Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Joy in Jeju: A Day at the Beach

One of the major reasons I wanted to go to Jeju was to spend a day at the beach. It's summer and I for one enjoy the hot weather because it pushes you to want to jump into a cool pool of water. However, Seoul seems to lack in this concept of public places to swim. Sure there are several along the Han river, but just a simple local place to go take a dive is out of the question.

Deciding which beach to visit on Jeju presents itself as quite a task. According to JejuLife.net there are about 13 to choose from, some of which being secluded, others with different color sand and some that are near local attractions. However, since we were close to Udo island I decided to head over there and enjoy the white sand it had to offer.


A closer look at Udo:
Our destination was to go from the Cheonjinhang port on the south side of the island up to the Hagosudong Beach on the North side of the island. But first one needed to make sure they had a good start to their day and we did that by making pancakes for breakfast.


The pancakes came out really good and were accompanied by some Agave syrup, which was all right. 

We packed up our beach gear and headed towards the island, which is done by walking down to the ferry at Seongsan Port. The walk over provided an interesting view of large sea-side equipment.



You might be looking at those clouds and thinking it is going to rain on our beach day, but don't worry they cleared out practically at the same time we arrived on Udo.

The ferry terminal was buzzing with people buying tickets and lounging around waiting for their boat to arrive. Odd thing is we arrived just five minutes before our boat sailed off and so got our tickets and immediately got in line.

The ferry ride takes you out past Ilchulbong, which gives you a nice side view of it's rocky outcroppings. Udo is named as such because it resembles the shape of a cow when it is lying down. In other words, we were heading to "cow island"! 

Arriving on the island, one feels a little woozy and spaced out, but then quickly lightens up to figure out how to get across to the beach side. There were several options one could have chosen, such as renting a scooter, golf cart or taking a bus. We opted for none of those things and instead went by foot. Again, using my GPS naver map system on my Android phone, getting there was a breeze.

The walk across Udo was greeted by a lot of sunshine and farmland, all of which was a perfect set up for taking a dip in the sea.

Some farmer and a scene with actual cows on a "cow island"...

One knew they were getting closer to the beach when you could see the water on the horizon. Indeed, I couldn't wait to get in the water. 
It seemed we had gotten there early enough as the beach was still not very crowded and you could rent a platform tent without any troubles. The platform tent cost 30,000 won for the whole day and was made of a flat large bottom, with a canopy roof.
At first I wanted to run and dive into the water, but as soon as my feet touched it I realized this was going to take some time. The water was a bit cool and so I waded around a while till my body got acclimated and then took the dive.


You really could walk out that far and even further if you wanted to. Looking back now, as I sit at my desk here, diving into that water couldn't have been more perfect. I always love that first feeling of going under a pool of water and right now wish I could be transported back there.

The rest of the day we spent under our tent enjoying snacks, a book to read and I did some sketching. When we went shopping we found this bag of chips labeled as "Tacos" and with the word "Mexico" labeled on the front.
I had never seen this in Korea before and thought they would make for a great beach snack. The picture on the front is pretty accurate, but the taste just passed as a regular nacho chip. I am not sure what they seasoned it with to make it like a taco, but it didn't really taste that much different.

My friend caught some "zzzz" and I enjoyed walking along the beach admiring how the tide went really far out.



More people came at this part of the day and had fun on the beach.
Nearby were some statues of the famous woman divers known for Udo and Jeju island. Some of the beach folk would stop and get their picture taken. We decided to do the same.


Although Udo has a lot more to offer than just beaches, we didn't see any of it. My goal was to come and enjoy the beach for a day and we accomplished that. The ferry schedule has it's last drop off at 6pm and so it was time to head out. 

I do hope to get back to Udo some day and see it's lighthouse and geological features, so who knows maybe I will! If you are heading to Jeju I recommend exploring this island as it has some nice beaches and great scenery to check out. Plus the ferry ride wasn't too expensive and there was even fried chicken on the island which can be delivered to you for 18,000 won.

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