Wednesday, September 29, 2010

28 Sep 10 - Day 5 (Jeju)

Morning call at 6:30am and we gathered at 7:30am to travel elsewhere to take breakfast. We had abalone porridge with other side dishes. We were told that the abalone was blended into the porridge so we could only see tiny bits of it. Of all the breakfast so far, this was something I like best coz it was simple. We were told that most Korean try to eat their three meals at home coz eating out is expensive. Korean eats rice for breakfast and if the wife was to cook porridge, the husband would ask, “Am I sick?”

Jeju Abalone Porridge

We then moved on to see the Mysterious Road where the road appeared to be sloping upwards yet in actual fact it was downward sloping. We did a couple of experiment where first we stopped the engine of the coach and it moved forward; another test where we pour water and saw it flowing to what we perceive was up slope. It was all due to optical illusion. Took some photos and picked up a couple of stones to keep as souvenirs.

This kind of stone statue is found everywhere in Jeju

Stone cool from volcano lava

Next stop was to O'Sulloc Tea Museum but we were early and the place didn’t open till 9:30am. Saw the tea plantation and thought we might have time to see that later so only explore the nearby park. The museum opened and it was only a very small one displaying various tea cups. Then there was another section selling the various tea leaves, tea products and food made from green tea. Most of our group members were gone and so we quickly bought the green tea ice cream that Hanna recommended and ate on the coach.

While traveling, we saw some graves with stone walls surrounding them. Hanna said to know if the dead had many or few friends, we could find out from the height and thickness of the stone wall around the grave. If the dead has many friends, the stone wall around the grave will be high and thick, the opposite is true. Some graves had square shape and some had round shape. Hanna said square shape is the normal kind and if it was round, it meant the grave was that of an unfilial son coz he died before the parents.

Went to the Teddy Bear Museum where we were given about 40min to cover four levels. So told M that we had to maximize our cameras where she took the outer rim of the displays and I took the inner rim of all the levels before heading out to the park where there were more Teddy Bear structures. Headed back in to browse the shop where M bought a guy bear wearing traditional costume and I bought nothing.

Some photos of the teddy bears in the Teddy Bear Museum :

Next was the Seongup Folk Village where we were given explanations of their culture and lives. Jeju has three ‘many’ (三多) – many women, many stones and many wind, and three ‘no’ (三无) – no beggars, thieves and no front gate. The three ‘no’ were because Jeju used to be a country itself and was self-sufficient. People didn’t have to worry about food so there were no beggars or thieves and hence no need for front gate. So instead of front gate, they only had three wooden logs as gate. When three logs were up, it meant no one’s home; if two logs were up, it meant the owner was out at work; if one log was up; it meant the owner would be back in an hour and if three logs were down, it meant owner was home and visitors were welcomed. The traditional houses were made of stones plastered with horses’ poo and the roof made of straws.

The three logs gate

The traditional houses in Jeju - This belongs to the Chief

Jeju men were fishermen and many died in the sea so left with women and children. Women, in order to survive, became divers (海女) who dive holding their breathes to catch octopus and shellfishes. Hence there were many women in Jeju. As Jeju used to have live volcano, and the lava cooled to become stones, hence many stones. Surrounding many houses and along the roads we could see stone walls and they were not stuck together using any adhesive. They were just piled up and even if it was very windy, they won’t collapse unless pushed physically coz they were stones solidify from volcanic lava. So the stones have many holes and wind jus pass through them.

As the ground in Jeju was made of the hollow lava stones, whenever it rains, water just sips through the ground. Hence, in order to save water, they tie ropes to trees and at the end of the ropes, places a big urn to let the water drip into it. And in order to prevent insects from breeding, they put frogs in the water. In the past, men didn’t have to work and women had to carry heavy jugs up to Mount Hana to collect water. They had straw woven cot where they would carry their baby boys around when they worked.

Some photos from the Seongup Folk Village :

Then we were brought to a house where the guide introduced us to their local products such as raw honey, 五味子 Honey and 灵芝 tea. Tried the fermented fruit of 五味子 and could taste sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Most of us bought a bottle of raw honey and a bottle of 五味子 Honey each.

Was given sometime to take photos before heading for lunch where we had Heukdoeji (grilled sliced black pork) with side dishes. We were told that due to the strong wind, there might be chance of boat capsizing while sitting that to cruise the sea to see the Seongsan Sunrise Peak. So Hanna suggested taking speedboat instead where the ride would be over in 15min. Thinking that we might be able to view Seongsan Sunrise Peak proper if we took the slightly slower one with the family of three and so we opted for that. It was very windy and we had to put on raincoats and life jackets before getting into the speedboat.

Riding the speedboat

The ride was exhilarating and M was seen snapping some photos of Seongsan Sunrise Peak. After the ride was over, went to the restroom to wash up and waited for the others. The driver then drove to Seongsan Sunrise Peak where we were supposed to buy tickets to go up to view the surroundings and take photos. However, majority of the group didn’t want to go up the slope and so in the end, M and I didn’t get to go up. Only took photos at the base of the Peak.

Seongsan Sunrise Peak

Then we went to a Tangerine Orchard for a short photo taking. Tangerine was not in season so those on the trees were green. According to Hanna, they would only be ripe in mid-Oct. Ripe tangerine could be seen sold at the back of vans and these were grown indoor. The four friends bought some earlier the day and let M and I had a taste. The tangerine was really soft and sweet and seedless.

Next we headed to Yongduam Dragon Rock and we had to climb the steps down to the beach. There were many other tourists from China and Hong Kong. Hanna said we might be able to see women divers on the other side and so M and I quickly climbed up the steps and went down another one further up. We managed to see them and they were already packing up for the day. We were tempted to try the live octopus sashimi but given the limited time, we had to give up. Picked our way across the rocks and managed to get to the other side which was where we were initially and climbed the steps back up.

Women divers packing up for the day

Finally we went to the Phoenix Island which was the filming site for Boys Over Flowers. Didn’t watch that drama and according to M, Lee Min Ho was starred in it with curly hair and he became famous after that show. Walked around the place, took photos and would have like to walk further up if we had more time. We passed by a church which was the film site for another Korean drama was named All In. Ended the day with dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The food wasn’t fantastic but I enjoyed the Jajangmyeon and the stir-fry squid. While eating, M and I could hear the rest of the table complaining about the food especially the lady from the couple.

Some photos from the last few places :

Went back to the hotel by 6:45pm and since it was really early. The four friends suggested going to the shopping street nearby so we decided to gather at the lobby at 7pm. Mei Shan was late coz the lights in her parents’ room weren’t working. So M and I went ahead leaving the rest to wait for her. Checked out some shoe shops and clothing. It seemed that prices for most of the branded shops were either equivalent back home or higher for brands like Fila. Like in Tapdong Street, most of the boots were with killer heels.

Went to Lotteria to get food and saw the rest there coz they didn’t eat much during dinner. They dined there while M and I bought Shrimp Burger Set takeaway. Went to Etude House to get the Rice Collegen Handcream for sis’s SIL and the Hello Kitty Lip Balm for myself. While walking back to our hotel, we detoured to another road and saw a stall selling Teobokki so bought a box back to eat. Along the way also bought a big bottle of aloe vera drink. Settled down and started to eat our food while chatting about our group members, our thoughts about traveling and my past traveling experiences.


 Lotteria Shrimp Burger Set

Thoughts: It would be better if we had more time for the various places. Would have loved to see the tea plantation and have more time to admire the teddy bears. Got to learn more about Jeju history and the culture. Seongsan Sunrise Peak may have provided a great view but we didn’t get to see. Also it was a shame not able to try the live octopus sashimi at the Yongduam Dragon Rock and see the women divers in action. As there are many other attractions around Jeju, I hope to be able to do a trip back there again in the near future.

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