Jeju 1 & 2: Flying, Guesthouses, Bijarim Forest, Manjanggul Caves and Loveland

Jeju 1 & 2: Flying, Guesthouses, Bijarim Forest, Manjanggul Caves and Loveland

This past week, all of the Native Teachers here at the Northern English Center were some of the first to take our Korean vacation. As with most vacations, it was awesome and well deserved. We got supremely lucky and were given the entire week off, and were even told months in advance that it was happening (you will come to find that this is extremely rare…) so we had ample time to plan and get ready to go on a whirlwind vacay. The 4 of us bounced several ideas around for our 7 days of freedom, but eventually settled on spending our week together on the beautiful island of Jeju.

First of all, tickets to Jeju are incredibly cheap. It cost us 90,000 won (roughly $90 USD) to fly to Jeju from Cheongju airport, about 30 minutes away from Chungju by train. The Cheongju airport is, blessedly, smaller than Incheon, even though it does have international flights. One of the strangest parts of flying domestically in Korea is the ease with which everything is handled.When we first arrived, the longest we had to wait was waiting to get our seat number on the plane. When you first reserve your ticket online you simply print out your reservation sheet, stand in the appropriate line at the airport, fork over your passport and printed material and they give you a ticket with your seat number on it. Simple, easy, efficient, much like all of Korea. Security was something else entirely. In the States I’m used to waiting in a super long line for security and then basically getting strip searched on my way through. Everything, carry-on luggage and regular luggage alike, is checked and re-checked with military precision, and God forbid you beep at all when you go through the metal detector.

None of that happened in Cheongju.

We got in line, handed a nice looking woman our passport, stood in a second, shorter line, threw our carry-ons into separate baskets and then just walked through a metal detector where they may or may not run you over quickly with a wand, as though it’s merely a courtesy rather than an actual security check. There was no taking off your shoes, I didn’t even take off my jacket, and when I beeped going through the lady with a wand asked me to lift my shirt a little, saw it was my belt buckle and waved me through as though I was wasting her time. Literally the easiest security I’ve ever gone through in my life.

The flight was a short one, about an hour, and when we landed we hopped in a taxi and went straight to the hotel. Here’s where it gets interesting: we got to the hotel only to have them tell us I had made the reservation for the wrong night and they were full because it was a high traffic vacation time. After about 10 minutes of slightly stressful panic because nearly everywhere was full, we walked ten feet from the hotel where we were supposed to be staying and found a guesthouse. It was super nice and only cost us 40,000 won (TOTAL) for the night for the 4 of us. It was definitely a win-win all around.

The next day we headed off on our first adventure: Bijarim Forest! It’s incredibly easy to get around Jeju, especially with how many Intercity Buses there are around, and it was fairly cheap as well. Here’s where I would highly suggest investing in a T-money card if you decide to head to Jeju because buses are incredibly convenient, not to mention much cheaper than taxi-ing it around everywhere. We took a quick taxi ride from the heart of Jeju City to the bus terminal and took a quick 30 minute bus ride out to Bijarim Forest. Once we got to our stop we took another super quick 5 minute taxi ride to the actual Forest since it was just slightly out of comfortable walking range. The Forest itself was beautiful and was definitely worth the trip out. It only took us about an hour to get through the whole thing though, and that was with strolling, so this is a good activity for maybe the beginning or end of your day.

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Afterwards we took another quick 15 minute taxi ride to Manjanggul Caves which is right next door to the Forest.

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That was slightly less worth the trip for me, but if you like rocks and being underground and science-y things then I highly suggest you check it out! If walking underground on rocks isn’t your thing, maybe skip out.

From there we headed to Loveland, which, if you haven’t read about it yet, is the greatest thing I have ever experienced in my life. We skipped out on posting pictures because of the sheer inappropriateness, but just know that if you have an open-mind and don’t mind seeing a park full of sex statues, this is the place for you. It’s amazing that such a seemingly conservative country as Korea has Loveland as one of it’s biggest tourist attractions, but we had a great time exploring and hanging out with the older women that literally arrived by the tour bus load with their husbands and boyfriends in tow to check it out.

After a rather long day of excitement we took the 780 bus down to Seogwipo to meet up with some friends. Seogwipo’s a great coastal area with it’s own share of cool things to see and do, but I’ve got more tales on Seogwipo coming up!

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