On our fourth day in Jeju, we woke up to the boom of some uninviting thunderstorms. I could pretend that this happened at 4:00 am, when we were planning to make an actual sunrise voyage to Sunrise Peak. But I would be lying. Actually, we were planning a day-long hiking trip to Mt. Hallasan, but the weather thwarted our plans.
Instead, we waited out the storm and headed to Sunrise Peak. This is, as the name suggests, supposed to be a beautiful place to take in a sunrise. It turned out to be a beautiful place in the middle of the afternoon as well.
Seongsan Ilchulbong was formed by a volcanic eruption about 5,000 years ago. The 180-meter peak faces the eastern coast of Jeju Island, hence its colloquial name, “Sunrise Peak.”
The climb to the top didn’t take long at all, but it was a nice view. The most interesting part, in my opinion, was our climb down and the view of the hanyeo below.
The hanyeo are the women divers who collect abalone, shrimp, crab and other seafood used in restaurants and sold all over the island. The most impressive aspect of these divers is their age: the average age of the hanyeo is 75, with plenty who are even older. They use only the most rudimentary equipment to dive, and have been doing this for their entire lives.
This is a practice that, while widely respected among Koreans, is dying out. There aren’t exactly many young Korean women scrambling to take over this profession.
We had the opportunity to walk down to this area and watch them work.
After watching this, we decided to sample their wares. We headed over to a restaurant at the base of Sunrise Peak that advertised the famous abalone rice porridge of Jeju Island.
We finally got to sit at a traditional Korean table as well:The funny thing was that all the regular tables were occupied by Koreans when we came in, and this type of table was the only one that was free. So the foreigners removed their shoes and sat cross-legged!
Alex tried the abalone rice porridge:
I tried a mixed seafood soup: I wasn’t a huge fan of the broth, but loved all of the seafood inside. Abalone, shrimp, crab, clams…all delicious and very fresh. I had to get a little creative in shelling my fish, though, as the only tools that I had were a spoon and two chopsticks.
The graveyard of my meal:
For dinner that night, we decided to keep with the Korean theme and try the most highly-rated BBQ place on TripAdvisor for Jeju.
The meat was spectacular:
The actual experience…not so much. Our waitress was very pushy, and kept trying to show us both how to BBQ and how to eat. Had we never been to BBQ before, this would have been helpful. But even after we said that we lived in Korea, and illustrated some familiarity with how Korean BBQ works, she still insisted on hovering and instructing us how to eat our food. Oh, and laughing every time we ordered something in Korean. Needless to say, we were waxing nostalgic about our BBQ spot in Busan by the meal’s end.
But, the meat was amazing and the soju was much stronger than anything we’ve had in Busan. So there was that.
We really took it easy on our final day, so I’m not going to bother doing a post about that. It rained in the morning, so we lazed about a bit. By the afternoon, it had cleared up enough to go to a beach close by, with great waves. Not much to report in the way of cultural points of interest, but a wonderful end to our vacation nevertheless.
I hope you enjoyed my Jeju recaps! Thank you for reading.