Top 3 Observations of Jejudo, South Korea
1. The air is amazing since the island has no factories.
2. The island has been infiltrated by mainland Chinese tourists to the point almost every store employs a Chinese speaking sales associate during peak hours.
3. The insects here are HUGE. I swear…it is highly probable for a future invasion of gigantic mutant ants.
Today, I joined a tour to head East. After Korean ginseng (perfect gift for my grandparents: check!) and Korean cosmetics duty-free shopping, we headed to Jeju Indigenous Village.
I learned so much about the amazing “sea women”. In the village, the women start going out sea at age 10 to collect sea produce for a living. Jeju sea women do not have wear oxygen masks, so all sea women can hold their breath for 3-6 minutes at a time. In the village today, most sea women are 50+, with the oldest in her 80s. Since they perceive retirement as a move toward death, they keep moving and going back into the sea daily. Amazing.
When the Mongol conquest ended, they left most of the horses behind on Jejudo. The sea women rely on a powder ground from horse bone essence to protect water damage to their bones.
The society is structured so uniquely. The women do all the work, while the men only do 3 things all day: smoke, drink, and procreate. Due to the shortage of men caused by conquests and lifestyle, men are treated like kings and have 3-4 wives. While now the village had adapted towards more modern and equal perspectives, the culture remains fiercely intact.
For lunch, we feasted on the famous black-haired pork KBBQ. Select a tender piece of meat, smear with special sauce, add kimchi/seaweed, wrap in fresh lettuce leaf, and devour. Then repeat. Delicious!
Straight after lunch, we clutched our pot bellies and rushed to the pier, where we hopped on a boat towards Udo. Due to typhoon season, Jejudo’s waves got rather feisty. I almost got thrown off the deck, and most people looked super seasick. Finally, we made it to our destination in one piece.
For the next hour, I explored the 30-meter underwater world of beauty and mystery off the coast of Udo…in a submarine called Yonggoongho. The fish, the coral & the swank submarine experience were incredible. Even the horrific boat ride became not as horrific and totally worth it.
The day was far from over. Next stop: Seongsan Ilchulbong. Like Vietnam’s Halong Bay, if you haven’t been to Ilchulbong you haven’t been to Jejudo. The sun was a bright blue, the clouds were beckoning, and the mountain top was calling. So I dragged my slightly seasick and extremely fatigued body up to the top. The view was beyond breathtaking, and just being up there made me feel carefree and happy with the world. I celebrated my workout with some tasty Turkish ice cream.
Then we were off…to Seopjikoji. The area was uniquely formed by red volcanic ash scoria, and the natural stones formed unusual formations. It’s most well known of course, as the set location for popular Korean dramas, such as the iconic All-In starring Song Hae Gyo. Such a romantic area!
After stuffing my face again at dinner, I asked around and split a taxi with other travelers back to the hotel.
Time to recharge, and head back out to explore more! Time flies on this amazing sanctuary of an island.