Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Summer Vacation! Jeju, Day 1

Oddly, to me, Koreans all go on summer vacation. Why?? The country is a steam-box in the summer and the traffic is horrible! But since I married a Korean and live in Korea, we went on summer vacation. ^_^

Since it was our first summer vacation as a married couple, we decided to go to Jeju Island, an island off the south coast of Korea (that's supposedly called "the Hawaii of Korea" but it's nothing like Hawaii, so don't get your hopes up!). Lots of people go to Jeju for their honeymoon (but less so lately, I think, because plane tickets are getting so cheap!), just like Hawaii. Because of MERS, there were actually seats on planes and hotel rooms to be had, which was exciting (normally, you can't go to Jeju in the summer without a few months' head start to get your plane tickets and accommodations worked out!). Luckily for us, the husband, who is quite a bargain hunter, booked the travel and room two days before we took off. And then off we went!

I do not like or approve of these thin paper plane tickets. What happened to those thick cardboard ones?? And what happened to those card-stock ticket folder things?? Man, traveling is getting so cheap and flimsy now. Anyway, the flight from Gimhae Aiport to Jeju International Airport is just about an hour long, which is a nice little nap. 

We landed in Jeju, picked up our one bag (the teeny white suitcase seen in the photos above and below!), went to get our rental car, and then zoomed off to our hotel. Our hotel, the Jeju Grand Hotel (soon to be re-named to the Maison Glad Jeju) was under construction, so we never got to use the front entrance! What a bummer. But the construction made the prices much better (not cheap, per se, but less expensive, anyway), so that was a nice bonus. They're still constructing the outside of the hotel, but the rooms are all done! And our room was really very lovely. I love exposed brick and I love dark colors, and look at the wall behind the TV! Exposed dark brick. So pretty~ If only they had made the counter a dark color, I would've wanted to take the whole room back home with me. What is up with the blond wood?? Bizarre Korean fashion sense, methinks!

The room had two beds, which was a bit odd (who would sleep in the other bed??). The one shown below is queen or king, and the one in the foreground was a single, so we just threw stuff on it and used it for lounging. That chaise in the background next to my husband was amazing! It was grey and quilted and so comfortable. We tried really hard to figure out who made it, but there were no tags or anything! What the heck! Overall, the room was a win. The view was a bit odd, since we could see peoples' houses and restaurants, but we didn't look out the window very often, so it was fine. The floors were so pretty, too! Dark wood, unlike our floors at home (which are white wood, which is hideous). 

Since we had checked in and had our room and had thrown our suitcase into our room, we went off to have dinner. Eating would end up being quite a point of contention during this vacation. I get hungry while I sleep and generally wake up starving, while the husband is perfectly content to not eat until dinnertime. We generally ate once or twice a day, while I moaned and whined and had lots of beverages to tide me over. (I can be quite the whiner when I want to be, poor husband!)

The first restaurant we went to is called Seoul Restaurant (서울식당), and I was hesitant because DUDE, we're in JEJU, not SEOUL! What the heck! But the husband swore this was one of his top-three restaurants ever, and since he's an indifferent eater, I believed him when he said it was good. (An indifferent eater, to me, is different than a picky eater because they'll eat anything, but they won't say that many places are good. A picky eater won't eat much (or at all) when they don't like it.)

Do you see those little black specks? That proves that this pig is a black pig (흑돼지), which is what Jeju Island is famous for. There are black pig restaurants all over the place! And you can even see the cute little piggies, rooting around and such, if you go into the countryside and drive around. Very cute, though not so cute that I can't eat them! In the photo above, that one strip of unseasoned meat is all we had of the raw black pig, while the three little riblets in the background are what we had much more of- seasoned pig rib meat. I love the meat around the bones, so those three little riblets in the back were eaten after we had the unseasoned meat. (I preferred the unseasoned 오겹살 while the husband preferred the seasoned meat, but he loves sweet things, so I wasn't surprised.) Really good! Loved Seoul Restaurant and even wanted to go back another time, though we ended up not having time. (Or perhaps it was because we only ate once a day!!)

The way I like to eat my grilled meat- wrapped in lettuce with grilled kimchi and some 쌈장 (sauce), which was very good at Seoul Restaurant. Yummy, yummy! On a side note, whenever we go to grilling restaurants, the husband likes to command the grill. It's a bit control-freak-y, since most Koreans expect the youngest one at the table to man the grill. I don't mind, because it means I get to eat! Hee.

Click on the photo above for a larger version. I love the panorama feature on iPhones! This was at HamDeok SeongWooBong Beach (험덕서우봉해변) during sunset, though it was cloudy enough that we couldn't really see the sun setting. The beaches in Jeju are quite nice (though again, not at all like Hawaii, so don't compare!) and have better sand than the beaches in Busan. There were quite a few people at the beach, but not so many that I wanted to kill them or myself. (It took a lot of effort to crop out all the people!)

Because I had read online that mango juice was a big thing in Jeju, I wanted to try it. I love mangoes! But I'm used to the big mangoes with red and yellow and orange and green on the peels (I think the mangoes I always ate in California were Haden and Tommy Atkins), and the mangoes in Korea are tiny and yellow (I think they're Carabao mangoes, from the Philippines). The mango juice, however, was delicious! It wasn't juice so much as it was more like a shake or slushy, but whatever it was, it was goooood. Mango Ray (the website says it's for Rich Mango, but the address is Mango Ray! What the heck??), I love you so~~

And here's the husband, holding out the mango juices. They're tiny but so filling that it took me until the next day to finish mine! They're also expensive, but since we weren't going to be having mango juice anywhere else, I didn't mind forking over the cash for the juices. (We did end up having mango juice two more times in Jeju, but it was worth it!)

We drove around and took in some sights. There are so many empty and half-built buildings in Jeju, and those kinds of things always depress me a little. There were once so many hopes and dreams attached to those projects, and now they're derelict and just being ugly, ruining a nice landscape or cityscape. Sigh.

We went back to the hotel pretty early, since the traveling had tuckered me out, and watched TV and played on our phones and giggled and did all the things that two traveling ninnies do. Ha. It was a great first day!