As Hawaii is to US citizens, so is Jeju to the Koreans.
Jeju is a large island off the south coast of South Korea, a little over one hour’s flying time from Seoul. Jeju airport is very busy as MB and MB2 witnessed, and caters for domestic and international flights. Tourism become even more hectic during covid as it was an in-country free-to-travel-to destination. The native population of the island is approx 600k and Jeju Island is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Shield Volcano in Hallasan National Park in the centre of the island is the tallest mountain in all of South Korea.
MB hired a car at the airport on arrival and quickly discovered that car hire procedures are not exactly as they are back home. Take the ‘fill the tank to the same level you received it when you return it’ rule. This normally involves filling the tank to the max when dropping it back, ie. to the same level you received it. But on turning on the ignition of the small Kia that MB had hired, MB immediately noticed that the petrol gauge was registering zero petrol in the tank. As in totally zero. Nada. Nothing. The dial did not move even 1 mm when MB turned on the car. So, realising that the car was only running on fumes, and starting to sweat, MB instructed MB2 to keep her eyes peeled for a petrol station or this car journey might come to an immediate stop. MB2 thankfully spotted one only a few hundred meters from the car hire yard so a solution seemed to be immediately at hand.
But all was not what it seemed. MB jumped out of the car, grabbed the petrol nozzle, and looked at the digital display. Sacre bleu! Merde! It was totally in Korean script, with no English language translations to be seen. The normal green/black hoses that might distinguish petrol from diesel obviously were an unknown principle in Korea, so the hoses gave MB no clue which one to use. Nor could MB even work out how to turn on the hoses or which button to press, let alone extract any petrol from them.
Enter the scene, Korean speaking and reading MB2, who jumped out of the car on hearing various blasphemies from MB, hit a series of touch-screen buttons on the large digital screen and said “proceed now dad” as if this was some problem she solved each and every day!
And onwards they went!
There are multiple attractions on the island and MB and MB2 covered many of them. There’s a very interesting National Stone Park (called ‘The National Stone Park’!) that has extensive rock sculptures and statues (unsurprisingly!) which must have taken hundreds of years to complete all those years ago.
MB & MB 2 also visited a waterfall in the south of the island and the Manjanggul Cave, the 12th longest so-called Lave Tube cave system in the world.
But for MB and MB2, the favorite haunt by far was the Dongmun traditional night wet market where some of the best street food in the world is cooked. MB and MB gorged themselves each night on market food treats from fish to various meats and veg and all sorts of delicious Asian combinations that they had never before encountered. Take a look at the video (last below) to get a flavour of the action and the food.
From Jeju, MB and MB2 took a 4-hour ferry journey to a small city called Mokpo in the South West of the Korean peninsula to catch up with a certain Irish nun.
But that’s a story for another day!
Shots + 1 video:
The guys preparing the food were part chef/part DJ: