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Friday, 2 November 2018

5D/4N in Jeju: Day 1


I'm rather surprised to learn that South Korea has more than 3000 islands off its coast. Out of these only 473 are inhabited and Jeju is the biggest. Jeju Island has always been portrayed as "the ideal getaway" in many Korean drama series that I've watched. A good number are even filmed on the island. Being a die-hard fan of Korean dramas, I am somewhat influenced and that is why Jeju is picked as our travel destination this time.

Jeju is a place where you can plan your own travel without much difficulty. Day tours are readily available and the public transport system is well organised. The Koreans are generally a disciplined lot and it feels safe to walk the streets. The only setback is the lack of English instructions and signage in public spaces and facilities and the extreme difficulty in communicating with people on the street. Since I had to plan for another trip for a group of friends a mere 3 weeks away, I decided to take an easy way out by hopping onto a Jeju tour from my home country. Anyway there was a free and easy day giving me the opportunity to plan a few things at my pleasure.


My flight was delayed an hour and it was past 3 pm when we checked out of Jeju International Airport. With not much time left we only visited 2 places on our first day in Jeju. 

1. O Sulloc Tea Museum 
O Sulloc Tea Museum is a very popular tourist destination in Jeju and is almost always a part of the itinerary in many day tours around the island. It is located beside a trunk road and it features exhibits related to tea. Among a few highlights are the Tea Cup Gallery, Tea Culture Room, an observatory, the Tea House and a gift shop. Tea Cup Gallery has a display of tea wares and utensils from the Three Kingdoms Period through the Joseon Dynasty in Korean history. Tea Culture room features Korean tea culture, Korean tea history, tea gardens around the world and a display of over 60 different types of tea. The exhibits are informative but unless you are very much into 'tea' they can be a bit mundane. The observatory is a letdown as the view you get from there is rather forgettable.

The Tea House is apparently the most popular part of the museum as it is packed with visitors queuing to get a taste of the the various tea products like Swiss roll, ice cream and a variety of tea beverages. 

This place is definitely over commercialised and the things sold are a bit pricey. I paid 10800  (approx RM40) for a piece of Swiss roll and a small cup of green tea ice cream. Yes they are good but not unique or very special.

Opposite the museum across the other side of the trunk road is Seogwang Tea Field and at the entrance are two sculptured tea cups that are covered by creepers. 


2.Camellia Hill
Camellia Hill aka The Forest Of Love And Healing is the biggest arboretum in Asia covering an area of 172,000 square meters. Boasting 6000 plants of 500 different species of camellia from various countries and 250 other plant species native to Jeju this botanical garden is worth a visit. It is well landscaped with a neat and easy pathway for visitors. It features a few plots of camellia forests of varying species, observatory, traditional straw houses, glasshouse, cafĂ© & shop, grass field, Yongso Falls and lotus ponds. 












Staying In Seogwipo
I had the privilege of staying in both the northern as well as the southern part of Jeju. For the first two nights we were checked into M Hotel which is located at the edge of Seogwipo City. Seogwipo is Jeju's second largest city and it is located on the southern part of the island. My hotel is just a short walking distance to the harbor. Its location is very peaceful but at the same time equipped with plenty of eateries and shops in the vicinity. Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market and a few food streets are just nearby.
From my hotel I could get a breathtaking view of the harbor and the smaller islands off the southern coast.
I could also see Saeyeongyo Bridge which links Seogwipo Port and Birds Island (Saeseom Island). This pedestrian bridge which is beautifully lit up at night is designed to look like the traditional boat of Jeju.


















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