In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #28: South Korea. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
VIDEO – Country #28: South Korea
South Korea blog post
- How I was Denied Boarding a Plane Going from Jeju Island, South Korea to Beijing, China
- Jeju Island – Review of the Most Peaceful of the Seven Wonders of Nature
- Complete Jeju Island, Beijing, Taiwan, and Indonesia Spending Breakdown
Arriving at my hostel
It’s nice to travel to a developed country sometimes. After backpacking in several rough southeast Asian countries, I was now back to first-world amenities. After getting off the plane, I managed to figure out how to take the local bus to reach my hostel.
Upon checking in, I was surprised how comfortable this hostel was. Sadly, this hostel no longer exists but back then, it was the perfect hostel for me. I made some friends with some travellers here as I prepared myself to join a full-day tour of Jeju Island the next day.
Saryeoni Forest Trail
I befriended the tour guide who got along with me really well. After rounding up a family of Filipino’s who is also exploring Jeju Island, our first stop is the Saryeoni Forest. Here, we went for a short hike. The hike reminded me of my home town which is Vancouver, Canada. At this point, I’ve been travelling non-stop for five months and despite not feeling homesick, the feeling of home was nonetheless comforting.
After hiking, we stopped by this Korean restaurant to eat lunch. And the food did not disappoint! I love Korean food!
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
After stuffing ourselves with a wide variety of delicious Korean cuisine, our next destination is to hike up Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. Personally, I didn’t think the hike was too hard but some of the older folks in our tour felt challenged by the steep stairs.
Woman diver exhibition
Upon completing the hike, we went to the base of the trail and all the way down the water. From here, we would be watching a local cultural exhibition of women diver catching shellfish in the water.
I loved the song they sang prior to diving which appears to be their pre-dive ritual. Afterward, they proceeded to immerse themselves in the cold water in an attempt to harvest some shellfish.
After the wonderful exhibition, our tour guide drove us to Hamdeok Beach. I suppose this place would be a lot better if we went during the summer. But because it’s still winter in South Korea, the beach was freezing. After taking some pictures, we left shortly after to avoid the cold.
The main event of the tour is the longest navigatable lava tubes in the world. These lava tubes are one of the reasons why Jeju Island is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. And from my perspective, it did not disappoint. Exploring the cave-like lava tube is the kind of adventure I enjoy. I’m also a science nerd and love learning more about how this lava tube came to be.
Self feet massage
After an enjoyable tour, we wrapped things up by going to this weird place to massage our own feet. Basically, you have a room full of floor sinks and you dip your feet in the warm water. Then, using an assortment of cosmetic products, you start cleaning your feet until it feels really smooth and soft.
It’s a strange experience but this is the kind of stuff you do when you travel.
Eating black boar with the tour guide
After the tour was done, the tour guide dropped off the family of Filipinos. The tour guide decided he would treat me to the local specialty dish which is the black boar since we hit it off and became friends right away. He’s an interesting person with questionable character traits. He kind of reminds me of my best friends growing up in Canada.
Denied boarding the plane
The next day, things turned for the worst. My next destination is Beijing, China as I was hopping around Asia in the last few days before I complete the Asia portion of my trip. I was due to go to South America soon and wanted to tick off visiting all the wonders of the world.
Upon checking in the airport, the flight attendant told me that because I don’t have a China Visa, they won’t let me board the plane. The plane I was taking was connecting through Shenzhen and that would require leaving the airport to catch the domestic flight. Because of this reason, I was only allowed to fly to Beijing directly if I wanted to enter through the 72-hour Visa-free method.
The flight attendant ended up booking me another flight and I paid over $350 which is more than I normally pay for flights. Later on, I tried claiming my lost flight with World Nomads but was denied because they said it’s my fault for not getting a China visa beforehand.
Travelling to Jeju Island in South Korea was an amazing experience. Looking in hindsight, I should have stayed here for a week and shaved off some of the time I spent in Vietnam. But, you don’t know these things until after the fact so lesson learned for future travels.
I will definitely return to South Korean one day as my travel experience here was a good one and I do like Korean people a lot.