Friday, October 18, 2013

KR&JP 2013 Travelogue Day 8: Art and flora on Jeju Island

To me, and to probably most other Hallyu afficionados, Jeju Island is one big TV series shooting place. Although that did play some part in my addition of the island to my itinerary, I did not end up visiting any TV series shooting spots; they were a bit out of the way, and the second reason I visited Jeju was that I needed to relax a little between my hectic Korea trip and my upcoming hectic Japan trip.

I had originally planned to take a ferry from Busan. However, after encountering various difficulties in getting reliable information in English, and thinking that I could do with more time on the mainland, I decided to book a flight from Busan/Gimhae instead. Incidentally, the Seoul-Jeju is the busiest flight route in the world.

Arriving well late into the evening, I made what I could of my night with a musical stop at Blue Hill Jazz Club on Ido 1-Dong (top left and right), followed by a ridiculously spicy chicken and gimjumeokbap dish (bottom left), a sampling of berry wines (bottom right), and a long-awaited foot massage (seriously, my feet were destroyed from 7 days of thundering across 6 cities).

My hostel was close to the sea, so I took a morning walk along the promenade to see the Pacific up close for the first time. I came to Jeju with no firm plans, and picked my itinerary based on the tourist map. Many places I did want to visit were far apart, and there was no rail transport, so I picked one: the Artist Village of Jeoji in the western part of the island. It was quite a trip, but taxis (and generally, public transport) in Korea are quite reasonably priced, and the lush island landscape is a pleasure to watch while in transit.

The centerpiece of the Artist Village is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Their Feng ZhengJie exhibition of iconic, colorful portraits of women was not due to open for a couple of days, but I managed to sneak a peek while they were setting things up.

The Village also hosts many artists' residences, making it a nice place to check out some architecture (top left). There are many public art displays too (top right), along with some small farms (bottom left) set up on the rich volcanic soil. The unique dol hareubang, or "grandfather stones", mascots of Jeju Island, make an appearance here too (bottom right).

A couple of smaller, private galleries were around, so I had a look at them too.

As in the rest of Korea, I saw a few examples of eco-friendly design on Jeju. Some familiar, like solar-powered lighting (left), and some novel, like grey water flushing (right), the latter of which I also saw in Japan. And like many other places in Korea, Jeju's direction signs for specific locations not only point the way, but also mention the distance -- very useful information to a tourist.

My main meal of the day was a late breakfast of pork stew at a Chinese-Korean restaurant (top left). I also recommend the quaint cafe (top right) at down the circuit road in Artist Village; they have great coffee, and very nice people running it. And, very appropriate for my destination, I sampled some plum wine (bottom left) and had a Japanese-Korean wudong (udon) noodle soup (bottom right) at the airport before my trans-strait flight to Osaka.

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