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Jeju Island: Saying Goodbye to South Korea

Me and the Jeju stone statue.
Me and the Jeju stone statue.

Vacation has officially started!  The past three days have been spent on Jeju Island in South Korea, which was a great way to bid adieu to the country I’ve called home for the past 3 1/2 years.

Let me be honest with you: Renee and I didn’t do much as far as sightseeing goes.  We needed to repack, reorganize and minimize, sort out some logistics and mail things home.  We needed to handle our Korean bank accounts before we left, and we needed to exchange our money for our future adventures.  It’s also about 45*F, rainy and windy here, and neither of us have a coat because we won’t need anything warmer than a thin long sleeve shirt for the next year or so.  And, to be totally truthful, I just wanted to relax.  I wanted to sleep in, eat my favorite Korean foods, grab a cheap/chic new pair of glasses, walk around the markets and visit the local shops.

The first day here we ate a huge meal of dwaeji galbi (BBQ marinated pork short ribs) and walked around Dongmun Market, picking up some Jeju chocolates and sampling oranges and dried sweet potatoes.

Jeju mountains
Jeju mountains
Symbol of good luck on the streets of Jeju City.
Symbol of good luck on the streets of Jeju City.

The next day I slept in longer than I have in who knows how long, and after we ran around town figuring out some banking logistics we found a TOMS shoe store and I got my very first pair (I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like I’m minimizing very well, but in return I got rid of two pairs of old shoes I had packed as well as a sweatshirt)!  Renee and I then found a grilled clams restaurant, something we had really been wanting to try, but it ended up being a bit of a tasteless, extremely chewy disappointment.  Ahh well, you win some, you lose some.

Grilled shells.
Grilled shells.
Yay!  New shoes!
Mah new shoes!

Our third and final day on the island was rainy and cold, but that didn’t stop us from going to Loveland, Jeju’s outdoor sculpture park that focuses on S-E-X (a seriously taboo topic in the country — pornography is illegal and TV shows get fined if there’s too much sexual content).  The best part of the park was the fact that we were surrounded by a ton of women in their sixties laughing hysterically the entire time.

Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.
Sculpture at Jeju Loveland.

After running around in the rain looking at sexy sculptures, we had our final meal in South Korea: Jeju Black Pig.  BBQ is by far my favorite meal in Korea, and this delicious breed of pig is special to this region because of the smoking technique used to cook the meat.

Our last meal in Korea!
Our last meal in Korea!

Like I said, all in all, this post is not a good representation of what Jeju Island really has to offer as far as sightseeing goes.  My suggestion if you’re going to tour the island is to rent a car if you have an international license.  You’ll have a lot of freedom to go where you please and you can go at your own pace.  If you can not rent a car, there are a few more options.  First, you can rent a taxi for a day, which will usually run you about 130,000 KRW (about $120 USD.  NOTE: you are also expected to pay all tolls as well as the driver’s lunch).  You can also go on a day bus tour.  Most of the day tours I looked at ran from 8:30am to 6:00pm with hotel pick up and drop off, and you explore either the west or east side of the island depending on the day.  The average price of the tours were 65,000 to 75,000 KRW (about $60-$70 USD).  The two tour companies that looked best to me are Explore Korea Jeju Tours and YEHA Bus Tours.

Flying into Jeju.
Flying into Jeju.

Tomorrow I say goodbye to Korea!  It’s been amazing.  Life changing. Challenging. Rewarding. I am forever thankful for the experiences I have had and for the amazing friends I have made.  Thank you for EVERYTHING!

Next stop: Hong Kong.

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Author:

I have circumnavigated the globe, I have lived overseas, and now I'm back in America about to marry my beautiful fiance, Renee. Follow our adventures in travel, getting healthier with Plexus and starting a brand new life.

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