We left wonderful Jejudo Island for Seoul today returning to Fraser Place and an evening of shopping at Namdaemun Market and dinner at Jeil Naenmyeon in the Bukchang-dong area. We feasted on Kalbi beef and other specialities of the house. The evening walk along the south wall of the Deoksu Palace a with lighted walls and past the Seoul Museum of Art and the Chongdong Theater is a relaxing stroll. Now I am planning tomorrow’s task list of laundry, banking, and how to get tickets to our next activity. However, Jejudo is never far from mind. It was really a great place to visit.
Most people don’t know about Jejudo Island so here is a brief description. Jejudo Island is located about 50 miles off the southwest coast of South Korea (300m miles from Seoul) and is sometimes called the “Hawaii of Korea” although the latitude at 33° N is similar to San Diego (Oahu is 21° N). Jejudo island is about 700 square miles in size (a little bigger than Oahu at 597 sq mi, and a little smaller than Maui at 727 sq mi) and is Korea’s largest island. It has a humid subtropical climate, warmer than that of the rest of Korea and is known as the holiday and honeymoon island. We were surprised that the resident population is only a about half of Oahu’s resident population (approx. 600,000 vs 1.2 million) and tourist population about half that of Oahu with beaches that looked more like the Oregon coast than Waikiki. We did not find many Americans among the foreigners we met and several of the English speaking hotel and gift shop operators we met had studied in Canada. But the tourism industry would like to get the word out to the English speaking world including Americans to visit here and the Jeju Weekly News in English was launched just one year ago and is online http://www.jejuweekly.com/
so you can learn about things here before you visit.
The island was formed by a volcano named Mt. Halla that is Korea’s tallest mountain at 6,397 feet high. Americans in the Pacific Northwest may find it interesting that Korea has a tradition of wooden totem poles called jangseung or village guardians and on Jejudo Island this tradition is seen in stone statues called dol hareubang or “stone-grandfathers” that are reminiscent of the grand moai statues on Easter Island but much smaller. We saw some stone grandmothers too.
Jejudo Island has also become a hiker and volksportters paradise with a series of scenic footpaths and trails called Jeju Olle. We walked a segment of Olle Trail #8 along the coast at Jungmun Beach and picked up another segment at Yongmeori. In the recent issue of the Jeju Weekly there was a story about Jeju and Switzerland Tourism working together on a Travel on Foot program. Last year Jeju signed a cooperation agreement with Shikoku Japan known for its Ohenro Pilgrimage Trail. The small island of Gapado is getting in on the Jeju Olle trails too.
Olle Olle Olle Jejudo folks are the champs!