Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Jeju Cycling Tour - Part One

part one - part two - part three - part four
Prelude: Ferry Journey & Night One

I'd been planning to do this cycle trip (which we dubbed the "Jeju-icidal Tendencies" tour) around Jeju Island with Sean and Jenny ever since my cycling trip from Seoul to Busan. The latter trip was pretty tough, 500km over 4.5 days starting on a tequila hangover as I had just DJ'd at SHAKE the night before, so I knew this Jeju excursion was going to be pretty mellow in comparison. Sean had threatened to bail out when the Jeju trip was looming because of his heavy workload for his masters degree, but he got his priorities straight and was soon back on board. Also joining me was Andy, jumping straight in at the deep end having only bought his bike about a fortnight before the trip.

The trip started in Gwangju on a Saturday where we had to stow our bikes under the bus and head to Mokpo. It was pretty cheap, about 5,000 KRW. From there we would cycle across town and take the ferry to Jeju, a journey that would last 5 hours. The staff in the main Mokpo terminal were pretty useless at pointing us to the correct terminal so if you plan on taking this trip be warned. "저기요" (over there), she barked at us, which hardly illustrated that we had to actually go and find a completely different terminal.

The Jeju ferry only cost 30,000 KRW (15 quid) including the bikes so it was pretty good value. We bought a few bottles of makkoli to keep us ticking during the journey which would see us through to sunset. Initially we set up shop on the top deck but it got ridiculously windy so we sought out the massage chairs and spent most of the journey there, listening to music and lapping up the amazing Mokpo makkoli (see below). Those four bottles seemed never ending. 






The aforementioned Mokpo makkoli. You must try it.


I couldn't get to the front of the boat to do a Titanic impression, but it was windy enough to do one without any railings to lean against.


Sean and I making the most of the massage chairs.


The makkoli starts to work.


Andy (right) and I in the Jeju Brewery.


Sean, Jenny and a little Korean girl (right). She kept coming over to play with us until she knocked over Sean's nearly empty drink. Her Dad was pretty embarassed by that and bought him a brand new drink despite our protestations; we were about to leave anyway. Now we had to finish it off! Ha.


Last sighting

This is the last I saw of Andy and Sean. Jenny and I headed back to the hotel at midnight. Those bottles of mineral might make you think these boys were being sensible. You'd be wrong!

Day One: Jeju City - Hamo Beach
(gpx file download)

The route, Jeju City to Hamo Beach, via the country roads. 72km.

The Hangover

A picture says a thousand words, but I'll keep on typing anyway. This is the sorry sight of Sean and Andy on Sunday morning. Sean greeted me at 9am with a beaming grin and a coffee in his hand declaring,"Hey, you're not dressed, we're ready to go!". I had guessed that he had headed to the hotel shortly after Jenny and I the night before, but it transpired that he had actually stayed up with Andy until about 7am. Andy was still fast asleep, Sean was winding me up, but he didn't have the last laugh. His smile quickly turned to a frown so we swiftly sought out the first haejangguk restaurant we could find to consume some "hangover" soup. It was to be a long day for those two. What happened that previous night we shall never know. (One thing is for certain though, don't mention room 601!)


Spritely dorks with a map.



Jenny's cheap Lespo bike adorning a jazzy Selle AnAtomica saddle. Damn comfortable saddle.

Much needed caffeine kick

Things are looking up for Sean. Caffeine high ensues.



Jenny tries to mimic the Haenyo statue (below)

Haenyo Statue

These haenyo statues are everywhere. Jeju is known for it ageing lady divers who can be seen all over the island gathering all manner of shellfish from the ocean. I got plenty of snaps of the real haenyo in action later in the trip.



Nap time in Hallim, an industrial port. The snooze started in glorious sunshine, but they awoke to gloomy skies. To sum it up in one word: "suffering". That's the price you pay for staying up all night. I sure felt smug after that good night's sleep!


Meanwhile, I sampled some local makkoli. I could swear it tasted like black pig (a Jeju speciality)



There are a few hills dotted around the north/west coast, but nothing drastic. Just enough for some enjoyable downhills. 



I don't believe for one second that palm trees are native to Jeju, but I like them nonetheless.


Windswept trees; evidence of high winds, about the only bad thing we encountered. There wasn't a single day without wind and we always seemed to be cycling into it, no matter what part of the island we happened to be on. That's the downside to cycling here in autumn. Although there is virtually no rain and the sun was shining most of the time the wintry winds that you experience in Korea are just starting to pick up speed.


Cabbages? I'm talking about these vegetables, not Sean and Andy.


There are a lot of wind farms on Jeju and I quite like them, although some of them are in the most ill thought out places blocking otherwise amazing views. They've started building a few out at sea which I guess will be more costly but at least they don't obscure the view way out there.


Windy toys

I prefer these to wind farms.


Koreans are always yelling "Hwiting" (fighting) for encouragement when they pass you. Sean takes those words on board as his vital organs go into meltdown.

Dead Snake Roadkill

When I cycled around New Zealand there was roadkill everywhere. In Jeju the only roadkill I saw were snakes and there were plenty of the little ones dotted about on the tarmac. That said, Jenny spotted a squashed kitten (sob!). Is roadkill an uncountable noun? Answers on a postcard.


Orange "kam Kyul" makkoli for fuel

Refreshing Jeju orange makkoli for fuel!

Raw beef and organs

After 72km cycling we dropped our stuff off at a pension next to Hamo Beach. I can't remember the name of it, but it was huge and can be seen right from the beach. We were starving! Andy doesn't eat seafood so we sniffed out a beef restaurant and ordered the largest beef dish possible. We were presented with this (see above). I had grilled beef on the mind and they brought out this platter of raw beef and organs. I managed to stomach a few pieces of raw liver and bit of the beef, but I had to stop there. This was not the hearty protein feast that I wanted to shovel down my throat. We were all feeling utterly disappointed at dropping 80,000 KRW on a bunch of entrails as can be seen by the expression on Jenny's face below

Jenny, not loving the raw beef organs
Jenny. Not impressed.


But then, what's this? At last a humongous plate of beef! Assah!

Raw Beef


Oh delicious grilled beef, how much we needed you! The disappointment quickly dissolved away when they brought out a sizeable plate of beef, not an organ in sight. We wolfed it down and hit the hay pronto. Day 1 was a lot of fun, for Jenny and I at least. Sean and Andy were still falling apart at this point. Sweet dreams!
(photos: Alasdair & Jenny)
part one - part two - part three - part four


  1. haha, yep, that's a pretty accurate account of what happened on day 1. The longest 72km of my life!

  2. Alasdair,
    My wife and I are planning this ride for next month.
    It seems the gpx links are broken?

    1. I'm not sure why the GPX links are broken. I used cyclemeter. Either way, it's pretty simple, just head counterclockwise along the coastal roads (stay off the main loop highway, which is not fun).

  3. Hello, just stumbled on this as I was researching for my own little bike ride on Jeju. I was wondering, did you make any hotel reservations beforehand? If not, was it ever hard to find a place to sleep?