After 3 days in Busan, we moved on to our next destination; Jeju island! I had been there once before, a couple of years ago, but my mum and I both agreed that we should definitely go back again during this trip.
Gimhae Airport -> Jeju Airport
It was relatively easy to get to Gimhae Airport. After getting off the subway at Sassang station, we walked a short distance to transfer to the Light Rail to Gimhae (an adult ticket costs 1,300won). Although the light rail station at Gimhae was not directly connected to the airport terminals, it was a short walk (sheltered) away.
The Domestic Terminal was rather compact, but at least there was a Tom N Toms cafe at the Departures level where we could grab something to eat. There was also a food court on the upper level, but we did not check it out. As it was a domestic flight, there was no need to clear immigration, and we made it to airside quite quickly after the security checks were completed. I think that there were only 5-6 gates, all located directly after security, making navigating around the area a breeze.
After a short flight (50+min), which I slept throughout, we arrived at Jeju Airport. To get to the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, we exited via Gate 2 on the Arrivals level, and took bus #100. Bus fares within Jeju city cost 1,200won/adult, although if you use the T-money card, you would enjoy a 50won discount.
We had lunch at a random Korean restaurant along the street beside the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal. It was a rather interesting experience, as the restaurant was more of a small dining room in front of the owner’s kitchen and bedroom. From our seats, we could see into the bedroom where the owner’s daughter was drawing on a piece of paper and watching TV.
We ordered a Korean beef stew & a tofu stew, which were pretty decent, and cost only 6,000won each. The beef stew had a strong meaty taste, and was laced with spicy kimchi, which made it all the more tasty. The cold fishcake slices and the anchovies were yummy too, and we asked nicely for refills (which were complimentary of course).
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Bus #710 could be taken from the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal to Seongsan Ilchulbong, although it only stops at the nearest bus stop, which was 10min walk to the entrance.
A one-way adult ticket for the bus costs 3,300won, and the journey there took about 1h 20min. The bus driver made an announcement when approaching the bus stop, and the location was also reflected on the electronic screen at the front of the bus.
Entrance tickets cost 2,000won per adult. Before embarking on our uphill hike, we bought a bottle of cold mango juice at one of the stalls at the entrance to sustain us for the long hike. However the weather was just too unbearably hot, and we finished it before we were even halfway up. Luckily we still had bottled water, which by now was no longer cold, but still good enough to quench our thirst. For those looking to climb all the way up in summer, do remember to bring/buy enough water!
I think we took about 30-40min to reach the top, inclusive of the time we spent resting along the way. Gotta say that it was quite impressive to see my mum make it all the way although she had to keep stopping!
The views from the top were really nice, and we could see for miles around us. Naturally, we took pictures there to capture the beautiful scenery, especially since the weather was really good (although very hot).
The hollowed out crater was magnificent in its own right as well. Seongsan Ilchulbong was formerly an active volcano, but look at it now (picture below). The crater has been carpeted with lush greenery, and looks like a green bowl when viewed from the peak.
We stopped by the Seongsan Ilchulbong beach at the bottom of the mountain on the way out, however we missed the timing for the ajummas’ diving performance.. The performance takes place at 1pm and 3pm daily, so do take note!
After descending from the peak, we took a well-deserved break at Paik’s Coffee, which was located near the end of the Seongsan Ilchulbong carpark. There is really nothing better than enjoying the aircon and an iced drink to cool off after a hot summer hike uphill!
Hwaro Hyang Restaurant (address: 27 Gwandeok-ro 15-gil, Jeju)
We arrived back in Jeju city close to 6pm, and after making a quick stopover at our hotel to freshen up, we headed back out for dinner. We hopped on a taxi to get to Black Pork Street (흑돼지) from our hotel. We found out later that we could have taken bus #100 from the bus stop at the main road (“Hanguk Hospital”) to Dongmun Rotary (which was a short 5-10min walk away from Black Pork Street).
True to its name, all the restaurants on this street offered black pork meat for BBQ! I believe there were easily 5-6 BBQ restaurants along the entire stretch.
I had heard some good reviews of a particular restaurant there, Hwaro Hyang, hence we headed straight for that restaurant.
We shared a room with a raucous Korean family, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience of such a friendly and familial environment. We ordered the pork cheek (16,000won for 200g), and the black pork neck (18,000won for 200g) to BBQ. We also ordered a bottle of maekgeolli (3,000won), a type of Korean rice wine, to try.
The meats were pretty flavourful, and 400g was more than enough to fill us both up. We were pretty much left on our own to BBQ the meat, and we ended up smelling like burnt pigs by the end of dinner.
Was the black pork way better than the other pork meats we had tried elsewhere? In my opinion, not really. It was yummy yes, but this restaurant’s was not mind-blowing. The best black pork I had was in Hokkaido actually, and I still recall how tender and juicy the meat was after being BBQ-ed.
I did not really enjoy the maekgeolli, and thought it tasted like diluted alcoholic barley water. Perhaps I was just unable to appreciate it..
It was close to 9.30pm by the time we finished our meal, and we headed back to the hotel as Dongmun market was closed and there was nothing much to see anyway.