My favorite island, Jeju

The TV program, “2 Days and 1 Night,” always inspires me to visit some places in S.Korea or to write about my past trips. Last week’s show also reminded me of my trip to Jeju Island in the summer of 2008.

If someone asks me to recommend one place to visit in S.Korea, I would definitely say Jeju Island. (Of course, if you want to feel the “dynamic Korea,” then you should visit Seoul.)
I’ve traveled so many places in the country in my life. When I was young, nearly every Saturday morning I was sitting in the backseat of my dad’s car and a few hours later, I found myself in a new place. And that tradition doesn’t seem to have faded away. Last weekend I was all over Gangwon province, eastern S.Korea, with my family. But I’m telling you, I haven’t revisited other places as much as Jeju. Although S.Korea has many other beautiful islands, but Jeju always shows me its new charm every time I visit the island.

One of my favorite places in Jeju is the Gimnyeong Beach, northesatern Jeju. It’s the whitest and finest sand beach in the island (Note: Jeju is a volcanic island, and some beaches have black sand.) and the water is the color of emeralds… It would be easily mistaken as one of the beaches in Southeast Asia. I hadn’t heard of the beach before, and it was a pure luck that I stopped by there on my way to Seopjikoji, eastern Jeju, from the airport, along the coastline. Ever since, it became one of my top beach destinations in the country.

Gimnyeong Beach, June, 2008

Another my favorite destination is the wood trail near the Mulchat Oreum. The oreum itself that uniquely has a crater lake is certainly a must to visit. But I love the wood trail more than the oreum, particularly when it’s foggy. (I think that trail is the Saryeoni Forest, but I’m not sure. I should check that out next time I visit Jeju. Another excuse to go back! grin.)

(Note: Mulchat oreum is closed until the end of this year.)

One of the oreums I really like is the popular Abu Oreum, eastern Jeju. I visited there with my friend @getthefish in 2000 and luckily we met the land owner at the entrance of the oreum and got allowed to hike up to the peak. (Note: The area is privately owned. Not sure if the owner decided to completely open it to the public now, but it seems like many have visited there without much trouble.)

View from the top of the Abu Oreum: A ring of cedars in the crater. I remember that we had to hike up the peak twice to take this picture as we found we had no films left only on top of the peak! (Yeah, there was a thing called a film camera.)

And if you like forest, I also recommend Bijarim Forest where you can see hundreds years old bija, or nutmeg trees. The huge, strong standing trees are just overwhelming.

Bijarim Forest

And really, try to visit the island every season. Jeju will definitely show you all different colors of beauty: Spring (flowers!), summer (beaches!), fall (foliage!), and winter (snow!!!). Ah… I should go back soon.