Sunday, 22 May 2016

Jeju 4-Day Itinerary: Day One

Read Day 1 here - Hallim Park, BBQ Pork
Read Day 2 here - Jeongbang Waterfall, Yongmeori Coast, Saeyeon Bridge, Seopjikoji
Read Day 3 hereSangumburi Crater, Yongduam Rock, Mysterious Road, Dongmun Market
Read Day 4 hereSeongsan Ilchulbong, U-do, Jeju City


Beautiful Jeju
We took a red eye flight from Hong Kong to Jeju with HK Express. This was my first time flying with this airline and I thought my experience was fine because I had the right expectations for a budget airline. No snacks, water or blankets were provided but it was only a three hour flight. They were the most lenient budget airline regarding baggage allowance that I have flown with. We each had a backpack for this short trip and one hand carry bag. The lady at the check-in counter only asked to weigh the hand carry bag. At first I was a bit worried about going over the 7kg limit for carry on items but it turns out that I didn’t need to worry at all.

However, I would not necessarily recommend using this airline if you have small children. Check-in in Hong Kong required going to their counter in Terminal 2 then walking back to Terminal 1 for the gate. We were told their counter at Terminal 2 closed at 12am. Our flight was at 2am so I wonder what happened to the people who thought they could check in after 12am. Hong Kong Airport was very convenient and the walkways from Terminal 1 to 2 were easy but it could be a hassle with small children and luggage.

I thought the timing was good to not waste time and start exploring Jeju right away.  We flew out of Hong Kong at 2am and landed in Jeju at 7am local time. Jeju is one hour ahead of Hong Kong. At the airport, we ate our first Korean meal at the food court and I napped while waiting for the Lotte Rent-A-Car shuttle bus to begin running at 8am.

The Korean rental car companies had booths inside the airport but the ones that were more foreigner oriented (aka offered their services in languages other than Korean) were off-site and required a shuttle bus to get to their office. Since we don’t read or speak Korean, we could only choose among the rental car companies with English websites. We chose Lotte Rent-A-Car in the end because their website was the most user-friendly and the price was pretty comparable to other companies.

The first step to renting a car in Jeju was to get our International Drivers Permit (IDP) in our home city, then we could register to reserve a car online. The process at the rental company was easy and the lady behind the counter spoke English fairly well. If fact, many people in the service industry we encountered in Jeju either spoke English or Mandarin, if not both. Adding a second driver was free.

She directed us outside to where the car was parked and a man with a tablet walked around with us to check the scratches that were already on the car and marked them off on his tablet. He demonstrated to us how to use the Korean GPS. From the website, I thought we would be getting an English GPS and I was only half right. The GPS menu was only written in Korean but the voice navigation had an English option. That part was a bit confusing because keying in locations was easy but using the functions such as “Search Nearby” or going back to the last address was difficult because we couldn’t read the menu! We rented a KIA Soul and the total came to about 200,900 won for 3.5 days.

It was easy to use the Korean GPS because we just had to key in the phone number of the place we wanted to go to. Although we did buy a data SIM card for this trip, Google Maps was barely helpful compared to the Korean GPS. Google Maps did not have a lot of the places we wanted to go to even though they were popular tourist destinations! As well, free WiFi was available at most locations that we stopped at. Many did not even require logging in or registering after connecting to the WiFi.

Our first stop was to Hallim Park 한림공원 (phone number: 796 0001) in west Jeju.  Admission to the park was 10,000 won per person. We saw many dol hareubang 하르방공원 which were stone statues wearing bowler hats and considered protectors of the island. There were many types of flowers and trees in the garden. We went through three limestone caves which were much cooler inside compared to the warm outdoors. 


Hallim Park
Cave at Hallim Park
When we finished the park, we walked across the street to the beach. The white sand paired with the black rocks against the blue ocean and clear sky made a beautiful picture. That was the first of many beautiful beach sightings on this Jeju trip.

Beach across from Hallim Park
We went back to the car, keyed in the phone number for a restaurant for lunch and set off. That was when we encountered a problem with our GPS. We realized that the voice navigation was in Korean even though the man at the rental company had set it to English for us. We pulled up at a gas station and tried to use Google Translate to go through the menu word by word for 30 minutes. I didn’t exaggerate the time it took. We couldn’t find it and in the end we asked a nice lady at the gas station. She didn’t speak much English but she understood what we wanted and called the rental company for instructions on how to change the voice navigation back to English. It turned out that the GPS reset every time we turned off the car. We learned how to choose the English option from her and thanked her for the help. I wished I was aware of this so that I could have asked the people at the rental company to show me how before we drove off.

For lunch, we had the famous BBQ pork and naengmyeon (cold noodles). It was so delicious and our table was filled with dishes of banchan and various vegetable leaves to wrap our sizzling meat. After all the fatty meat, I thought I would be too full for the naengmyeon but I was not. There were actual ice cubes floating in the broth to keep it cool. The julienned cucumbers, gochujang paste, egg and noodles mixed together created an appetizing and refreshing bowl perfect for the warm weather. I finished close to a whole bowl by myself. Eating meat was pricier than eating seafood on Jeju Island and our meal with 3 portions of BBQ pork and 2 bowls of naengmyeon came to about 75,000 won.

BBQ Pork
Naengmyeon
After a satisfying lunch, we went to a beach nearby with lots of squid hanging to dry. There were also wind turbine visible in the area. 


Wind turbine
We drove to the centre of the island to Hallasan National Park 한라산국립공원 (phone number: 713 9950) and arrived at about 3pm. The hiking trail said it was closed for the day. My guess was that since it takes 5 hours to hike to the summit, they didn’t want people on the mountain if they couldn’t make it back before the sun set at 7pm.

We drove to our hotel, Seogwipo KAL Hotel in south Jeju. The hotel wasn’t walking distance to much nearby and was quite old. It was probably a nice hotel back in the day but it hasn’t been upkept very well despite the KAL name. Carpets were stained and tiles were obviously patched. It was clean but felt very worn in and not worth the higher price point. At least there was free WiFi, which was not available at another KAL hotel we stayed at later in the trip.

That’s the end of our first day in Jeju! After a day of great weather, we were met by heavy rain and wind the next two days.

Read Day 1 here - Hallim Park, BBQ Pork
Read Day 2 here - Jeongbang Waterfall, Yongmeori Coast, Saeyeon Bridge, Seopjikoji
Read Day 3 here - Sangumburi Crater, Yongduam Rock, Mysterious Road, Dongmun Market
Read Day 4 here - Seongsan Ilchulbong, U-do, Jeju City
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4 comments:

  1. hi,
    i will be travelling to jeju on April 2017. I was browsing thru some hotels for jeju before booking and i come around this hotel name Central City hotel jeju. I saw their website the hotel looks good and price reasonable... need your advise if this hotel is ok to stay as pics sometimes is deceiving.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much! This post is really helpful! May I ask, which car rental company did you opt for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! :) We used Lotte Rent A Car. I wrote about my experience here: http://thevivienave.blogspot.com/2016/05/jeju-day-one.html?m=1

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