04 Jun - 07 Jun 2013 Jeju City

East Asia
Republic of Korea aka South Korea
Jeju Island
Jeju City
You & I Guesthouse +827045485648 master@uniguesthouse.com
Comfortable and clean a/c dorm bed with private locker for KRW 19,000.- or US$ 17.- per night. Including a sumptuous breakfast. Free wifi and fully-equipped communal kitchen/lounge in a brand-new, stylish and very clean guest house. Genuine backpacker atmosphere.
Well-organised, professional and friendly enough Korean staff; perfectionist management, but limited English.

Click below for an interactive road map of the You & I Guesthouse in Jeju City, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Matt: Exploring rather non-descript Jeju City aka Jeju-si, the volcanic island’s modern and busy capital, with its large seafront and famous West Dock Raw Fish Street where a dozen of family-run eateries serve Jeju’s signature dish, every kind of sliced raw seafood and sliced raw fish aka hoe.

Matt: Getting away from it all and taking the ferry from Seongsan to Udo Island aka Yeonpyeong-ri (KRW 5,500.- or US$ 5.- per person, return), famous for both its pungent garlic and sweet agar and touted as “The Mysterious Udo”, hence losing my way in impenetrable sea fog which I have never seen outside of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

Matt: Climbing to the top of the 182-m high, kimbap-slice shaped extinct volcanic crater atop Seongsan Ilchunbong (free entry for senior citizens), enjoying spectacular views into the forested punchbowl and over the jagged crater rim into the windy coastal plains of eastern Jeju-do and learning from an old villager that Jeju Island is also called Samda-do because of its abundance of rocks, wind and women.

Matt: Hearing the long exhaling sounds of a team of Jeju’s famous women free-divers aka haenyo, the representatives of the island’s matriarchal family structure, as the buddies emerged above the sea surface (…after having collected turban shells, abalones, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and octopuses for about two minutes, ten to twenty meters below sea level, these women free-divers rise up to the sea surface and make long breathe-out sounds with rounded lips), meeting with them later on the beach and enjoying the most delicious impromptu lunch of super-fresh abalone sashimi, raw onions and edible kelp, all this washed down with undisclosed quantities of well-matured soju, certainly Neptune’s version of nectar and ambrosia.

Matt: Descending to Manjanggul, Jeju’s most distinctive but overrated geological wonder and one of the world’s longest lava tubes, which reminded me of a more than 7-km long, but badly designed railway tunnel with much too sharp bends, with a height inaccuracy from 2 m to 25 m and with totally malfunctioning flood drains (admission: KRW 2,000.- per grownup but free for senior citizens, +82647834818).

Matt: Feeling folksy and a trifle yellow-feverish thus meeting and having a nice time with both (i) a chattering of beautiful young ladies from Seoul at the otherwise rather sterile Jeju Folk Village (admission: KRW 4,000.- per senior citizen, +82647874501), an open-air-museum which covers Jeju-do’s culture from shamans to aristocrats, and (ii) a fun-loving detail of saucy volunteers from the walled-in but very lively Seongeup Folk Village (no admission charge) where the villagers have lovingly restored their rock-walled, thatched-roofed traditional houses and are trying (a) to offer boring guided tours which nobody wants, (b) to sell kitschy souvenirs which nobody needs and (c) to serve awful and overpriced junk food to hordes of Red Chinese tourists who will never come back for a second time.

"Sometimes you have to go halfway around the world to come full circle."

Matt: Hopping uneventfully with low-cost carrier Eastar Jet (“Exciting Flying”) in a repeatedly pre-loved Boeing 737-800B from Jeju International Airport back to Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport for KRW 43,000.- or US$ 38.-, all inclusive, one way, connecting hereafter with the efficient subway (lines no. 9 and 2, fare: KRW 1,650.-) from the airport straight to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Gangbyeon station of subway line no.2, exit 4) and, eventually, taking an express bus through a well-tended, mountainous landscape to Sokcho (c. 160 km, 2 ¾ , KRW 17,300.- or US$ 15.40 per person, business-class like seats, driver not only in uniform but also with a genuine medal ribbon and white gloves, albeit zero English), a busy fishing town on Korea’s east coast which used to be a part of North Korea from 1945 to the end of the bloody Korean War (...which hasn't ended yet).

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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to blame;
It’s good take on responsibility.
Keep your bearings!