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Adventures in Korea

Daily Archives: 15.6.2011

Jeonju – 전주

Visit Korea Year 2011 promotes Korea in many ways. One of them is the free tourist buss for foreigners. They offer trips to Busan (부산), Gyeongju (경주) and Jeonju (전주). Lotta being active like always, booked us tickets and there we went, last weekend. The bus left on time, at eight, even though the guide guy was very late. He also didn’t know how to speak. But the bus was comfy.

The weather was great (+32 degrees) and the Hanok village (hanok is a traditional Korean house)  was full of beautiful houses and galleries and crafts. By coincidence they were having a traditional music festival. It was great, I liked the traditional storyteller/singer kids the best. Here is a video Lotta took of the kid who won the talent competition.

We were planning on staying at Jeonju Guesthouse right next to Hanok Village. For some reason it was over booked, even though we had a reservation, so we ended up staying in a very pretty small hotel, upstairs of a hat boutique.

In the evening we went to search for dinner. We wanted sub but didn’t find, so we settled with Pizza hut. Surprising enough, that seems to be the only place in Korea you can’t buy beer with your food! There is a nice shopping are in Jeonju, full of young people and colorful shops. And their Daiso was huge.

Jeonju people were nice and talkative – they didn’t speak any English, but they didn’t let that bother them. Some of them we understood, too. Like the guy who helped us to find a naengmyon (냉면) (cold noodles) restaurant. We popped in one restaurant to ask if they served naengmyon, which they didn’t. One of the customers, an ahjussi, run after us and told us he was gonna show us the way to the best naengmyon restaurant of the city and it was a five minutes walk from the first place – in Korean of course. On the way he showed us his own store, which explained why he went through the trouble of walking us there. It was right next to the nengmyon shop. He told the restaurant keeper to serve us the best they got and probably with endless refills, because that’s what we got. And it was delicious!

Another random encounter was an American university professor and poet and his wife, who we met at a souvenir shop. He was very friendly and had his roots in Sweden. His wife told me I look just like Taru.

Sunday morning we headed for Doekjin Park, famous for it’s huge lotus pond. On the way we grabbed some sushi from Home Plus. I think we were the only foreigners in the whole shop. Jeonju buses are pretty convenient and the system was easy enough to figure out, with some help from tourist information lady. T-money works there as well, which is great. Doekjin Park was nice and serene – even though they had a wrestling competition going on there. Sympathetic Christian ladies wanted us to join their church and talked with us for 45 minutes, even though they didn’t speak a word of English.

Jeonju is famous for hanji, beautiful handmade paper, so we couldn’t leave the city without getting some. I bough six sheets for 12 000 won and I’m gonna hang them on my wall in Finland. Very beautiful!


Thank you Jeonju!

PS. I’ve never been stared at so much as in Jeonju. I felt like the only white person on Earth. I can honestly say Jeonju has not been spoiled by tourism yet.

Jeju-do – 제주도, 2.-8.6.2011

Jeju is the Åland of Korea. It’s an autonomous paradise island at the very southern end of Korea. Everybody told us to be sure to go there, so we went – me, Lotta and Anouk. Lotta, as a tourism major and utterly awesome human being, acted as our travel guide, made all the reservations and made sure the trip was a success. It was a success.

We reserved the flight tickets maybe a month ahead and got pretty good prices from Eastarjet– around 80000 won / 50  euros return. There is a direct shuttle bus from Hotel Castle near Ajou to Gimpo airport. Tickets are 6000 won one way and it takes one and half hours to get there – we expected a shorted ride and we got there only ten minutes before Anouk’s check in counter closed. Me and Lotta had a different flight a bit later so we were okay. Both our flights were delayed because of thick fog in Jeju airport. Luckily we were able to land – I heard some planes had to return and some were canceled completely.

From Jeju airport we took a limousine bus 600 to Seogwipo KAL Hotel, close to our first hostel – Doona guesthouse. Our hostel was great and the people there nice. A lot of Scandinavian color there – two dudes from Sweden and one from Finland. The guesthouse is owned by a Korean lady, Doona, and her family. It has very comfy beds and clean facilities and a nice porch to chill at. Close by is a nice Korean restaurant and a small convenience store. Bus number 2 operates to Seogwipo city.

Doona guesthouse

We spend the first day climbing Halla mountain (한라산). (Wouldn’t Hallavuori be a nice surname?) We took the Seongpanak Trail (성판악) – 9.6 km. You can get there by taking bus 5.16 from Seogwipo or Jeju city. Tell the driver you are going to Seongpanak and he’ll drop you off there.  To be able to climb all the way up to the summit you should be at the shelter checkpoint (about 8 km)  no later than 1PM, descending from the summit should start before 2.30PM, so leave early! The bus from Seogwipo takes about 40 minutes.

Seongpanak trail wasn’t as steep as the other ones, but it sure was long. It was good though, we got to see the other crater lake. It was surprisingly quiet – no echo there. My hip started hurting at 1700m, so I didn’t climb all the way to the summit. Lotta did! Well done Lotta. I spent a couple of hours napping in the burning hot sun and headed back to meet Anouk. There were quite a many high school students there, on a field trip. They were happy to practice their English skills with us.

Hallasan

On our second day we joined forces with Canadian Michelle and Finnish Miikka to see the Seogwipo area waterfalls and Jungmun beach. Cheonjiyeon waterfall is in Seogwipo city… easily reached by walking or if you are coming from Doona guesthouse, by bus number 2. Hop off at Napoli hotel or write the waterfall name down and show it to the driver.

Cheonjeyeon Waterfall and Jungmun beach can be reached with bus 600. Catch it from KAL hotel or the hotel I forgot the name for, close to Napoli hotel. Hop off right after the extravagant hotels in Jungmun resort, by Ripley’s believe it or not.

We left for Jeju city (제주시) on our third day. Same bus that took us to Hallasan operates all the way to Jeju city bus terminal. Our second accommodation Yeha guesthouse was conveniently located next to the bus terminal and they had a superb roof terrace!  Rooms were nice and every room had their own shower. Breakfast and one free drink included!

Yeha Guesthouse

We spend the day checking out Jeju city’s sights – Samseonghyeol Shrine (삼성혈), where the three demigods of Jeju popped out of the ground, Jeju Folklore museum (pretty cool place, learned a lot, but the sea creature museum next to it was too much – freaking scary, never gonna swim again) and the seafront. Ate Mexican food near City Hall, at Zapata’s. Very good food and handsome waiters!

Samseonghyeol

Seafront

The next day we took a bus to Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉), the sunrise peak. We didn’t see the sunrise, but the area was pretty. We also took a ferry to U-do (우도), a small island close to the sunrise peak.  The tour bus organized by the local people is well worth the 5000 won. It stops at the main attractions and you can get on the next bus every half an hour. It was a good idea to take my flipflops with me, since the pretty coral sand beach was, well, sandy. I built a sand castle! And ate seaweed. The island is very rural and the people reminded me of people back home. Oh, the owner lady of the convenience store in U-do ferry terminal is nice and you can get home made kimchi with your cup noodles.

Sunrise peak

We got back early enough to have time to check out the Tea museum. It was great, even though no-one spoke a word of English there. The cafe downstairs was picturesque and had awesome matcha yogurt ice cream. Of course we had to buy some small tea cups, but the real tea sets were too expensive. We also found a nice Indian restaurant near by (can you tell we are getting a bit tired of Korean food).

On our last day we visited the Manjanggul Lava-tube (만장굴). The bus left us 2 kilometers from the entrance, but by foot we were able to see the smaller lava tube entrances. On the way we stopped by the Kimnyeong maze, a huge cedar maze well worth visiting. Our tactic ar first was the famous “first right, then left” but since it failed we switched to “kai-bai-po” (rock paper scissors) and successfully cleared the maze. For dinner we had the best summer food, Japanese cold noodles. From now on I’m not gonna eat anything else but cold noodles in the summer.

A great trip! Yay!

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