Howdy and welcome back! Last week, I went on probably my only true vacation that I will be getting before the semester starts again (sad, I know). However, this trip to Jeju Island was probably the most healing time that I have felt in a long time. Of course, it was very hot, humid, and a literal island, but I still had a very fun time, got to take a trip with one of my best friends, and had many new experiences.
Making my way to the Gimpo International Airport with nothing but a backpack and myself, I felt a bit nervous. I have only been to the airport twice since being in Korea: once when I arrived almost 11 months ago and the other time when I dropped off a friend who was leaving. You could say that airports give me a bit of anxiety, especially when flights were continuously getting canceled because of the many thunderstorms and rain in Seoul. I just wanted to be standing on Jeju land as soon as possible. It was then that I met my bestie at the airport and everything felt instantly better. After boarding our flight, we fell asleep for the 1 hour and 10 minute plane ride and woke up in the sunny island of Jeju!
One talkative 51 minute taxi ride later, we arrived at her aunt’s house and planned where we would eat dinner for the day. We ended up going to this restaurant on the southern coast of the island and got a great view of the ocean! After devouring the seafood pancake and 물회 in almost complete silence because we were famished, we walked to a nearby cafe and had the entire 2nd floor all to ourselves 🙂 We ended up staying there so late that when we went to leave, Kakao Taxi couldn’t find a driver in our area and we had a slight panic attack because it was very late and dark outside. Luckily though, we managed to find a driver and get back home okay. That night, I got almost no sleep because… the air conditioning unit in the house broke! ㅠㅠ And I woke up at 3am dying in a pool of sweat and humidity. Not a fun night, but the next day was when we had our first miracle of the trip.
Day 1 Gallery Dump:
Tip: If you can’t drive in Korea or don’t have a friend that can drive a car in Korea, you will most likely have to rely on taxis to get around Jeju. We used Kakao Taxi for this journey and I’ll warn you in advance that, if you don’t like talking to taxi drivers and want to just be left alone, play “dead” and “fall asleep” in the back of the car as soon as you sit down. They won’t talk to you then lol. Many taxi drivers, especially in Jeju, like to strike up conversations about Jeju’s landscape, new buildings, and random other things. I guess the job can be kind of lonely and tiring so that’s why they do this, but sometimes you just want to sleep…Shoutout to the only female taxi driver that we met for being amazing and understanding social cues <3
A loud buzzing of the house’s doorbell rang. Repeatedly. Confused, I woke up my friend and she answered the door. It was the air conditioning maintenance man here to save us from the heat! He quickly fixed the AC unit and, for the next 2 days, we were set with cold air circulating throughout the house.
Anywho, we started off the day by visiting a Jeju Starbucks where I drank the amazing 까망 크림 프라파치노 drink! It is a wonderful blend of frappuccino, black sesame, and cream and you can only get it in Jeju <3
Next, we headed to the Teddy Bear Museum! If you didn’t like teddy bears before going to this museum, I can guarantee that you will walk out wanting a teddy bear by the end of it. It was a super cute museum that had various exhibitions of bears in all forms, moving bear sets, artwork with bears, and the bears featured in the 2006 K-drama Princess Hours (궁)! Outside, they also had a very tall mechanical bear and a huge gift store (filled with teddy bears of course!).
For lunch, we headed to the west coast of Jeju to this restaurant called 협재칼국수. We ate their 보말칼국수 again in complete silence because the taxi ride that we had taken to get there didn’t understand the usage of speed bumps and drove hastily over every.single.one. -.-
After we regained our energy, we went to the many Jeju gift shops along the coastline and I bought way too much merchandise. No regrets. Also, throughout the beginning of the day, it was pretty cloudy, but once we came out of the restaurant, the Jeju weather did a complete 180 degree turn and became very sunny 😀 We met a very nice worker at the London Attic gift shop and found a cute cafe called Hotel Sand that connected to the 협재 해수욕장 (Hyeopjae beach). I soaked up a lot of nice views, saw the 비양도 (Biyang island) which was right in front of us and didn’t look real to me (because it was so beautiful to see with my own two eyes), and lots of sand. On the bright side, I finally found myself my very own TANGERINE HAT! FINALLY! At a discount 😉
Now, onto the main event and the best thing from this trip 흑돼지 (black pig)!!! When I tell you that this was the best meal that I have ever had in my life, I mean it. It is #1 on my top-foods-in-Korea list and is a must-try if you come to Jeju. It is like 삼겹살 but 10x better. 10000/10000 rating. I definitely went into a hardcore food coma afterwards because of how good this meal was.
On the last day in Jeju, I felt mixed feelings. My vacation was ending right before my eyes, I was having a great time with my friend, and I didn’t want to go back to dreary Seoul (which was still getting a lot of rain at that moment). I had gotten a great amount of sleep thanks to the fixed air conditioner and a super comfortable blanket. Today’s itinerary got a bit mixed up, but we still accomplished a lot.
First up, go to a Jeju photobooth! I live and breathe Korea’s photobooths because they are so much fun and help create good memories with friends. Once we finished up there, we went all the way back to the west coast again to an area called 애월. There was a cafe located in this cafe street called 몽상드에월 which used to be owned by G-dragon from the group Big Bang. This cafe was actually connected to a bunch of other places like a Knotted Cafe and a Fish and Chips restaurant and overlooked the beautiful ocean surrounding the island. This meant that it was pretty windy outside and I actually felt that I would blow away into the sea at one point. Once we ordered our fish and chips, we went outside to take photos with the ocean but gave up and ate our food inside because it was SO WINDY!
Day 3 Gallery Dump
More Jeju gift shops later, and the heat was beginning to get to me. For context, during the entire day I had been carrying a heavy 5 pound backpack with all of my things around the island. I looked like a hiker. I have discovered that my body doesn’t react to humidity AND heat at the same time (which is a basic Korean summer day), so I felt that it was necessary to just get to the airport early and wait for my flight there. Even on a Thursday afternoon, there were hundreds of people at the Jeju airport. It was very overwhelming and I began to dread returning to Seoul even more. My little vacation was coming to a closeㅠㅠ I eventually had to say by to my friend and hopped on my return flight, which featured a crying 6 year old girl who screamed bloody murder over and over and over again for 50 minutes of a 70 minute flight. Thus, I didn’t get any sleep and was not relaxed anymore
- Make sure to budget accordingly for taxi usage in your trip.
- Having a plan B for restaurants in Jeju is a good idea because, while Naver Maps may say that the place is open, once you get there, it could be on holiday (from personal experience).
- Wear good walking shoes/sneakers because you will be walking more than you think. One friend told me to buy shoe support insoles and it was probably one of the best things I did to prepare for this trip.
As the locals say, 3 days in Jeju isn’t enough and they are right, I wish that I could have stayed for a whole week to explore the whole island, but I didn’t think ahead like that and had to go back to Seoul early.
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