The island- Jeju

Just 130 kilometres off the south coast of Korea, there lies an island. It is an island where you are surrounded by oranges trees, where the crashing of waves is never too far and where the possibility of dinosaurs and unicorns living harmoniously together is distinct. This island is every photographers dream with stunning scenery and photo opportunities lying everywhere. The island? Jeju.

For those of us on the mainland, Jeju is a place we merely hear about. Korean families go there all the time and bring back tales of hiking and orange eating. So for four girls, sitting in Paju one Friday night, the idea of heading to Jeju for a weekend excursion became a reality. It was all too easy to book tickets, with many flights and many airlines flying to the island. After a quick internet search, accommodation became available and again thanks to the world wide web, a car was also booked before we had a chance to finish the bottle of wine.

Two of our group arrived Friday afternoon and after picking up the car, we started on the 40 minute drive to the accommodation. What we arrived to was a modern looking house on farmland just off a main road. Our room (although apartment is possibly a better word) was large enough to fit all 4 of us comfortably and the balcony was almost as big as the room itself.

Jeju

The Trick Art museum, open until 11pm, gave us plenty of photo taking opportunities while we waited for the gang to arrive.

Jeju2

Jeju3

The sound of silence the first night was deafening. No barking dogs, no drunk adjussis, just silence in its purest form. It was like we were the only people on the island and nothing outside of our room existed.

Refreshed and ready we hit the big tourist spots on Saturday. A short drive saw us on the coast and we enjoyed spectacular views of Sod Island.

Coast

On the bridge

on the coast

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is perhaps one of the most beautiful in Jeju. After a scenic walk, strolling through nature and wildlife, the waterfall appears.

Waterfall 2

Wa6terfall

As a keen photographer, I enjoyed beautiful, elegant photo opportunities of the natural landscape on the island. I’m pretty sure, my friends were slightly sick of the words “we’ll just stop for two mintues. Look how beautiful that is” I used to see my life in pictures but with watching the waves, it transformed to music and pictures. So lyrical, so beautiful. Despite the freezing conditions, I was more than willing to wait for the right light, the perfect conditions.

scenary

scenary2

scenary3

Rock

rock 2

photo

We did many of the usual tourist things and quality assured the oranges;

oranges

Just as we were about to discover the hiding place of unicorns, (possibly at the top of Hallasan) our flight beckoned and it was back to Paju.

For anyone considering a trip to Jeju, consider the following;

1. Rent a car. It’s the only way to get around. There are loads of rent a car agencies at the airport and it’s pretty cheap to hire one for the weekend.
2. Shop around for flights. There are loads of companies that fly to Jeju. Shop around for the best value. We flew Jeju Air. Flight time is only 55 minutes.
3. If you’re only going for a weekend, organise what to do in advance. Hallasan will take a few hours no matter which route you take so prepare accordingly. Try to get your attractions in one area, then move to the next and do all the attractions in that area and so on. It saves a lot of time.
4. There is plenty of accommodation available for every budget. We stayed at Jeju Ecosuites. We booked a special deal through Agoda. The owner was foreign and was super helpful. Its a most beautiful place to stay but it’s in the countryside so it’s a good idea to have a car to stay there.

Guam-Encouraging the anti-craic

Craic. It’s a great word. One that people don’t use enough. “What’s the craic?, Any craic? How’s the craic?”, all phrases you might hear an Irish person say.  But what exactly is “craic”? (pronounced “crack”) Well, for each it is different.  In Irish, craic is the word for fun.  So each person has their own version of what craic is.  For me, it’s a good music session where everyone seems to be having good craic and the session itself is good craic and the whole night turns out to be good old craic.  In Korea, a night where it’s 6am and you don’t know where the time went because you were having such craic is great craic. So you get the drift, to each their own.  Everyone has an individual idea of what great craic is.  

So let’s talk about “anti- craic”. This is a phrase that describes the opposite of craic.  Like anti fun.  Something where you stand there going “what’s going on here lads? No craic” That’s anti- craic.  I’d like to present a case study of anti craic as seen on Guam.  

Guam is an island full of resorts. These resorts have pools and restaurants and gyms and everything you can think of.  What they ultimately do is encourage you to spend all day hanging around the resort with just the people you travelled with, enjoying the facilities on offer.    There is only so long that one person can spend beside the pool or on the beach before one gets cabin fever.  It also encourages you to shy away from interacting with other people.   This is anti craic. Should you succeed in spending the day at the resort, you might want a few drinks at night.  Excellent, head down to the bar.  But be sure to go early enough because it closes at 12.30am, way past my vacation bed time.  Complete anti craic. Couple this with the fact that on a regular Friday night there are about 40 people in the bar.  For those 40 people there are not 1, not 2 but 3 security guards.  Not only have people spent the day avoiding one another but now they want to make sure we don’t somehow randomly start a fight with each other or heaven forbid order a drink past 12.30.  Anti-craic.

If you were brave enough to somehow venture outside the resort and head down to a bar, you are in for a big shock.  You should expect to be the only craic happening in that bar. Not only that but the 3 bouncers will I.D. you and ask you random questions like ” So you’re just passing through?” What was it that gave me away?  After a drink and 2 games of pool, you’re all done.  Back you go to the safety of the resort. Complete anti craic.

When I’m on vacation, there’s nothing I love more than to stay in bed longer than I usually would and enjoy a nice little lie in.  Forget it. If you stay in a resort, you must report for breakfast between 7 (it’s ridiculously early) o clock and 10am.  This is well and good if you have children and you’re all up anyway but it defeats the idea of having a lie in. Unless you want to skip the breakfast that you paid for and pay through the roof for the food in the cafe.    Anti craic.   

Then there’s getting around the island.  All of the touristy things are in the one place, more or less.  If you don’t have a car, you can use the trolley system.  Grand.  But if you have a car and you decide to explore the island be prepared to “explore”. Guam seems to have a problem with road signs.  And by problem, I mean they don’t exist.  You get a rather sketchy looking map with a load of road numbers on it and off you go.  ” Where are we?    Oh I don’t know somewhere along road number 3″. Excellent, I’ll spend the rest of my day driving along road number 3 trying to figure out either 1)  where on the map we actually are or 2) if anywhere on road number 3 actually looks like something I actually might somehow recognise. And if, like me, you like to go “for a spin”, don’t come to Guam.  The speed limit around the island is 35. Great for encouraging safety first but you are essentially taking your car for a walk and would probably end up going faster if you went in reverse.  Another classic example of anti craic. 

And to finish off my anti craic rant, let’s talk about the NYE party tonight.  It’s at the resort (surprise).  There’s dinner and later a band or a D.J. (nothing that’s too  much craic).  There will be a fireworks display at midnight and afterwards a party.  But only until 1.30am, that’s when it finishes and everyone will head home.  Or to the respective floor that their room is on.  That’s only 90 minutes after you ring in the New Year. Wow, such great craic……NOT… complete anti craic. 

I feel like my first luxury holiday will certainly be the last for the upcoming future as all roads in a resort lead to a town called anti craic. 

As ever, feel free to leave comments below and Happy New Year!