“Jogio” (pronounced “cho-gee-oh”) means “there” … and has become the root of every joke we say in Korea, even though half the time the context in which it is used makes no sense whatsoever, we find it absolutely hilarious and it’s an incredibly fun word to say.
“do” (pronounced “doe” means Island) – i.e. Jejudo means Jeju Island.
“pokpo” means “waterfall”
“bally” means “hurry”
Now for the good stuff …
So Thursday night I felt like it was Christmas Eve … or, even better, like that Disney World commercial where the little boy says “But I’m too excited to sleep!” … that is exactly how I felt knowing that in a few short hours I would be landing in paradise. How could one possibly sleep with that on the brain?
I went to school Friday morning – pink luggage in hand – taught a couple classes – and then took off at lunch time to the Paradise hotel in Haeundae to meet up with Caitlin and fetch a ride to the airport. There were a few minor delays and last minute stresses as Caitlin faced some squabbles at her school … and at one point I actually found myself texting her … “…. so you’re not coming to Jeju?” and then immediately scanning the bustling streets for a potential new travel buddy. But luckily Caitlin pulled through and we “jogioed” off to the airport with our taxi driver Min-su. We knew we were in for a great weekend when we met Min-su. He was an absolute delight and found us incredibly curious and hilarious (but, then again, who wouldn’t?) …
At this point it was 1:00 PM and our flight was scheduled to depart at 2:30 PM, and since neither Caitlin, nor I had been to the Busan airport, we weren’t sure what sort of time frame we were in for as we heard anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and 20 minute ride… so needless to say, we were a bit anxious to get moving. Luckily all it took was for us to say to “BALLY BALLY MIN-SU!” <Hurry, Hurry Min-Su!> and we were off faster than wrapping paper at a birthday party. Min-su took our instructions whole heartedly and jogioed us to the airport with a swift hop, skip and a jump. We arrived at the airport with ample time check in, get our tickets, have a wardrobe change and snap some self portraits to start the trip. Needless to say, this set the tempo for the remainder of the weekend.
Because we are girls going to paradise we obviously brought everything but the kitchen sink … in our rolley girly suitcases … so needless to say, we were a spectacle every where we went. We made a scene boarding the plane as we appeared to be the only two people bringing any sort of bag with them – and we had many – suitcases, purses, snacks, cameras, umbrellas – we were prepared for everything and anything. We finally made it to our seat which we sat in for what felt like 5 minutes … literally, by the time the plane got off the ground, we were served a beverage, then it was descending time …. total in air flight time of about 35 minutes. This, however, was enough time for Caitlin and I to scare away the local Korean man sharing our row with us. Maybe it was the over abundance of English that got him, or our broken Korean, or Caitin having her love texts translated by the flight attendant for all the plane to hear – regardless, he didn’t like what we were putting down so he jogioed on out of his seat and in to a new one.
So just as I’m finishing my last drop of tomato juice, we start to descend and pure excitement sets in. Well, excitement and anxiety as we were not really sure what sort of predicaments we’d find ourselves in. But nevertheless, lonely planet guide book in hand, we got off the plane and entered palm tree heaven. From the airport we took a taxi to E-mart as in Caitlin’s stressful afternoon she failed to grabbed her running shoes … so it was at E-mart we discovered (yet another inside joke of the weekend) – “Big Tens” – Caitlin’s new running shoes.
After a few wrong turns and incorrect directions from locals, in the sweltering heat, we managed to find our way to the bus terminal. We decided to head to the Southern coast to the second largest city on the island and the main tourist / resort area – Seogwipo. The bus ride cost us a whole 3000 won (roughly under $2 CDN) … and just over an hour later, we had traveled the entire island from North to South – through the middle of the island. Once in Seogwipo it was evident we needed to eat and we stumbled upon a familiar site – Orange Shop (*A kimbop chain that can be found all over Korea*). After dinner it was time to find our motel. After browsing the suggested places in my Lonely Planet book we decided to get a room at the Bally Motel at a mere 30,000 won a night total. It wasn’t a bad establishment, and the receptionist was, again, hilarious and found us to be rather peculiar. The only pitfall with the Bally Motel – the TV remote batteries were melted into deformity so that made late night TV watching a challenge.
Once Bally felt like home, aka clothes and girl things all over the place … we decided to walk around and check out the night life of Seogwipo. To our dismay, there was not a whole lot to do aside from small local taverns and restaurants … but we walked around and enjoyed the scenery anyway. Then we decided to jogio a taxi to check out one of the famous beaches nearby – Jungmun Beach. We once again were paired up with the most amazing taxi driver – every one seemed to find us to be a spectacle and absolutely hilarious – so we granted him some giggles at our expense as we verbally abused him as we randomly shouted the few Korean words we know. He probably thought we had turrets. Anyway, along the way we decided that we just had to try the infamous Jejudo Tangerines and asked our taxi driver – whom we nicknamed “Walter” to stop off at one of the fruit stands on the side of the road. He, again, found this hilarious, and gleefully agreed, so Caitlin and I purchased the first of many tangerines that we would devour over the course of the weekend. The girl at the fruit stand was insanely cute and spoke really great English and we managed to bargan a 20,000 won box of tangerines to 5,000 won – but she gave us about 10,000 won worth. Amazing. They are literally like heaven in your mouth. We obviously let Walter inside our heaven as we offered him a couple tangerines for the road and then we were back on our way to Jungmun Beach.
A pretty expensive taxi ride later we arrived at Jungmun, but unfortunately it was far too dark to make out much of anything … but we strolled along the water and the path by the beach and made a promise to come back the next day to get a better view. We ended up on the resort grounds of the Hyatt hotel – which was gorgeous – and it was here we met Rambo – a rugged, high-heeled wearing taxi driver. He appeared less than interested in taking us back to the Bally Motel, but he was more than helpful in getting us oriented with the bus that would take us there. So we waited around for what seemed like forever, mosquitoes devouring a fresh citrus blood, and then we jogioed on to the bus at Rambo’s command. Apparently the bus was not a direct route to where we wanted to go, but we got to do a drive by of all the local resorts in the area and after missing our destination stop, we were dropped off a the KAL Hotel. We made use of the free internet and tourist brochures in the lobby, then had the congierge fetch us a cab back to the Bally motel. Upon arrival we were exhausted and ready to rest up for a big day the next day.
We woke up Saturday morning, got ready for the day and the jogioed out of the Bally motel – again, pink rolley suitcase in hand. We stopped off at a local coffee shop for breakfast and made use of their free computer and internet to plan our day. From there we headed to Cheonjiyeon Pokpo <waterfall>. We decided to inquire within the tourist information centre to get some ideas on an itinerary … it was here that we met yet another wonderful character who became our Hercules as he saw two damsels in distress – he let us stow our luggage in the storage closet! haha greatest news we received all day 🙂 So luggage free we strolled through the gorge … it was about a 10 minute walk to the waterfall, took about 10 minutes for “picture taking and to chat” (as our English tourist informant informed us) and a 10 minute return walk. The gorge was bustling with other tourists and I was approached by an English academy employer from Jeju inquiring about whether or not I could work at her English Institute in Jeju City. After informing her that I was infact already employed, she gave me her number anyway, snapped a photo for Caitlin and I, and then was on her way. I obviously saved it – never know when I am going to need a job on an island.
After the Cheonjiyeon Falls we took a taxi to Oedolgae – “Lonely Rock”. It was here that we made were made the biggest spectacle of life and it was also where we were introduced to the Jejudo Angels – but I will get to that. So Caitlin and I unload the taxi, again, rolley, girly suitcases in hand – but this time, we were faced not with a sweet tourist informant to stow our bags for us – but instead, staircase upon staircase to lug our luggage up and down. This didn’t stop us. So onward we trekked, causing yet another scene. We couldn’t help but laugh it off – I mean, I already stand out in a crowd in Korea – why not give them something exciting to look at? So we admired lonely rock and within moments our lives in Jeju changed forever – we met our Jejudo Angels – the most loving beautiful and kind Korean couple from Seoul – Chang-hyun Jo and Hye-won ~~~!!!!~~~~!!!!~~~ There was a bit of confusion at first as Chang-hyun Jo tried to make conversation with us and we immediately translated it into “oh, do you want us to take your picture? ok ok ok!” but to our astonishment, this wasn’t what he was trying to ask of us. Instead, he saw two damsels in distress and explained to us that him and his girlfriend had a rental car and they wanted us to join them in touring the island for the day. This was like music to our ears! After confirming that we were headed in the same direction – we jogioed our luggage into their car and we were off to the next destination.
With our new friends we were off to Jeongbang Pokpo <waterfall> which was incredible. This waterfall is said to be the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the sea and it certainly is a natural beauty! We took some more pictures here, grabbed some more tangerines and water then we were back on the road. The next destination was LUNCH. We drove to Pyoseon Beach which is an extremely wide and shallow watered beach. It was pretty fascinating to see, but we didn’t have much time to tour around. We ate lunch and from there we went to a Jeju Folk Museum where we educated on some Jeju Island history and facts, as well as posed for about 3890 photos. It was kind of neat, but the humidity was definitely getting to us, so it was back on the road heading to the next stop.
We made a couple stops along the way on the side of the road for some breath taking photos ops. The weather was less than desirable island weather at this point – overcast and starting to rain – but we didn’t let it stop us. We ended up making an additional stop at an observatory on the coast. This place was like the twilight zone – sort of felt like we were entering the future – minus the horse drawn carriges that trickled the venue. I guess this observatory is the set of many famous Korean dramas and movies … so it was nothing but another opportunity to take a million photos. AND … I mean, ride a 2-seater bicycle! What else would you do on an island? This was insanely hilarious to Caitlin and I as we jogioed our way around the observatory on good ol’ Number 9 – nearly dying on more than one occassion. Too funny for words. Also, please keep in mind I was wearing a skirt, so I’m sure Jejudo got a little more Britney Spears action than they anticipated getting. haha
After the observatory there was little time wasted before we back on track to our final destination – Seongsan Ilchulbong – “Sunrise Peak”. It was our understanding that our new friends needed to depart at 6 PM for the airport … but next thing we knew, we were jogioing up Sunrise Peak in flip flops and skirts – purses in hand. hahaha …. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Big Tens to make their debut, but there was no time to spare! The climb was only about 20 minutes, but it was about a 90 degree angle climb from the bottom to the top, and again, in the humidity, we were dying. Once we reached the top it was totally worth it. We were overlooking a good part of the island, and could even see U (pronounced “ew) Island where we planned on heading the next day. Sunrise Peak is an extinct volcano with a summit shaped like a punch bowl. It is completely forested and an amazing green color. Catching a glimpse of the sunrise on top of Ilchulbong would be amazing, but we made it there just in time for the sun to set. We headed back down to the base and back to the car where we were bracing ourselves for a tearful goodbye, but our new friends were not finished with us yet. They wanted to make sure we were set up with a place to stay for the night, so we quickly drove to the hotel Caitlin and I had picked out to stay at. Unfortunately there were no rooms available. Fearful that we’d be left stranded on the street with no place to stay, Hyun-jo frantically drove to two other places, finally coming out victorious at the 3rd motel! At this point it was about 7:30 PM and they still had to drive to the airport in Jejuew friends and we were off to get cozy in our new digs for the night. City to catch their 8:20 plane back to Seoul. From there it was a tearful and rapid farewell to our n
The couple that operated the motel were again, insanely nice. The adjuma – old woman – literally ripped my suitcase from my hands and trekked it up 3 flights of stairs without hestiation. This lady is probably as old as my grandmother – but she was just a-motoring! From there, we had two freezing cold bottles of water hand delivered, the air conditioner pumped up, and clean comforters on the bed. It was like a whirlwind of excitement! We soon after found a local place to have a delicious meal at, grabbed some snacks and then called it a night after an eventful day touring the island.
Sunday was yet another busy and exciting day. We grabbed some coffee and more tangerines and then headed to the ferry destined for U Island. A mere 5,500 won each got us a return ferry ticket to the island. The ferry ride itself was about 10 or so minutes but this ferry is packed full of people in true Korean style – on the floor. Upon arriving to the island, we again were unsure of what course of action to take as we had our suitcases in hand, making a spectacle of ourselves yet again. But within steps of getting off the ferry, fate handed us the gold card – A Golf Cart. With very little hesitation / convincing, our luggage was in the golf cart, my expired Ontario license and 50,000 won was handed to the rental man and we were on our way around the island. This was honestly the greatest thing ever – next to of course having the cutest Korean couple tour us around in their rental car with them. We had the golf cart for 2 hours and we were bound and determined to see the entire island in that time which is not a difficult task as you can bike the island in about 2 hours. But with photo ops at every corner and two foreigners touring an island, you never know how long these things will take. It ended up taking us the full 2 hours, and upon returning the golf cart, we were greeted by the strangest weather – it was completely sunny yet there was a light rain starting. U Island was a magnificent sight. The weather was constantly changing; one minute clouds with a light spitting of rain; the next minute sunny and hot; I think on a cloudless day, the water color would be even more breathtaking than what it was, but it was still beautiful. At the end of our 2 hours on the golf cart, and our cameras full of pictures and our luggage back on it’s wheels, we headed back to the main island of Jeju via the ferry.
Once on land we jogioed another cab and headed for Gimnyeong Beach – a white sandy beach with clear blue water. Again, if the weather was nicer, it likely would have been even more spectactular. From there we headed to Manjangul – lava-tube caves – which was interesting for the first 5 minutes. It is a 13.5 km long cave that is freaking cold and dripping wet. We lacked the proper attire for trekking through a cave and didn’t realize that once you reached the end of the cave, you’d have to turn around and walk back … so we were a little anxious to get out of there by the end of the first 13.5 KM walk. Once we were back out in the open we decided to make our move to Jeju City, as the weather wasn’t looking very promising so exploring any more beaches seemed a bit unneccessary. We started making our way – again, suitcases in hand – to the high way to catch the bus – as we were tired of taking overpriced taxi rides (Don’t take the black taxis in Jeju! They are every where and they are expensive!). As we approached the end of the museum’s drive way, it started to rain pretty hard and again, we were damsels in distress. Another Jejudo Angel came to our rescue – a bus driver. He jogioed us onto his bus and gave us a free lift (which was insanely far away, walking distance, from where we were) to the bus stop we needed to be at in order to get to Jeju City. This gave us the momentum boost we needed and we made our way to Jeju City, checked into our nice, cheap, HOTEL, that was fully equipped with everything we needed, including a computer! After a bit of down time we decided it was time for dinner and after reading about a Mexican restaraunt in my Lonely Planet book, we decidd we needed to check it out. We were not disappointed. The chef apparently learnt his trade in Mexico City. It definitely felt like I was in Mexico – the food was delicious and the atmosphere (minus the Korean wait staff) was like I was at an all inclusive restaraunt. I obviously couldn’t help but think of my many family vacations to Mexico … mom and dad, I think you’d love this place!
After dinner Caitlin and I strolled the streets of Jejusi back to our hotel, and on the way, of course, stopping to buy some tangerines to bring back for our school staff. We also stopped to get some face masks, and decided to enjoy our last night in Jeju while relaxing and watching k-pop music videos on YouTube. Not a disappointing night as we were in for yet another long day.
5:00 AM rolled around far too quickly and before you knew it, Caitlin and I were on our way back to the airport to catch our 6:30 AM flight back to Busan. We were once again a spectacle getting on and off the plane with our luggage, bags, boxes of tangerines and orange chocolates, and of course, breakfast and coffee in hand. Once landing in Busan we were overcome with great sadness as it was back to the grind and we found ourselves discussing when we will go back to visit Jejudo again. We’ve decided it will be sooner rather than later. 🙂
All in all it was an amazing time. We unfortunately didn’t have the sunniest skies, but with the humidity, it was probably a good thing that it was a bit overcast. As well, we didn’t have a chance to go back to Jungmun beach during the day, nor did we have time to explore the West side of the island, so a trip back will definitely be happening.
In general we found the people of Jejudo to be exceptionally nice and overly helpful – and surprisingly their English was incredible. Very few times did we have to repeat ourselves, or even speak in broken English in order to convey our message. And often times when we would speak in Korean, they would speak in clear English back to us. It was quite a change from that of Busan … but I suppose tourism is their main industry so it is to be expected. They are even thinking about declaring English as their second national language of the island. Pretty neat!
In total, Caitlin and I spent 50,000 won each for 3 nights of decent accomodation, which we were both really happy about. We also learned a lot about each other on the trip — especially that Caitlin loves air conditioning and I love the heat … and when I sleep with air conditioning on I wake up with puffy eyes. WEIRD! I literally slept with a hoody on all three nights … hahaha
I’m sure I am leaving out some other details … but I was kicked out of starbucks due to closing time, and this has to be the longest blog written in the history of blogging.
I am so excited to meet up with our friends Chang-hyun Jo and Hye-won again sometime soon and I definitely can’t wait for my next trip back to Jeju.
Hope you enjoyed reading and enjoy the pictures 🙂