Travel courses in Jeju are changing. In the past, after arriving at Jeju Airport, most did not stop by Jeju-si. In general, tourists would immediately take Road 1100 (No. 139) to stay in Jungmun or Seogwipo and visit Seongsan Ilchulbong.
The first wind of change is led by Jeju Olle trails. Since 2007, 26 courses spanning 425 km have been created, with more than 5,000 people completing the courses each year and making it to the “Hall of Fame.” The number of tourists wanting to walk on the well-organized Jeju Olle trail, even if they cannot complete the entire trip, started transforming the style of traveling in Jeju, which had required car rentals.
The second is the trend of “living one-month away from home (handalsalgi).” Jeju is the best domestic destination for this newly emerging travel trends. As the demand for temporary living increased, Jeju became known as the optimal place in terms of both its environment and cost. Regardless of travelers’ age, many are increasingly seeking information about living for a month in Jeju.
To discover this different Jeju, the warm island where spring arrives first, let's take a look around the western part of the island with beautiful natural scenery and plenty of cultural facilities.
1. Eco Tour
|Hwansang Forest Gotjawal Park|
The unique name of “Gotjawal,” is a combination of “got,” meaning forest, and “jawal,” meaning “thicket” of intertwined trees, vines, and stones mixed together. Hwansang Forest Gotjawal Park, an irregular rocky area created by the flow of aa lava erupting from the volcanic island's Doneori Oreum, is cool and humid at lower than 15 degrees Celsius, even in summer. This allows the various flora from both the northern and southern limits to coexist, such as Jeju’s indigenous ferns and vines. There are breathing rooms between the stones at the entrance, and vines are tightly wrapped around it. Filled with plants of strong vitality that grow back after they’re cut, this sprout forest is home to more than 800 species of trees, including native mulberry, muku tree, camphor tree, and vines, and over 130 species of fern. When you see the “conflict” created by the vines that wrap up the old tree and roll up only to the right and only to the left, you can’t help but compare them to human life. Gotjawal is a treasure trove of the ecosystem, but it is also a path for meditation that makes you think about how to live in harmony with nature.
In November 2019, The Planet, an ecological cultural complex that exhibits Jeju's ecological culture, was opened at the former site of a substation at the entrance of Jungmun Tourist Complex. The complex consists of “Buddy Friends Character Exhibition Hall,” which features characters created from endangered species such as white-eyes and larks, “Biodiversity Exhibition Hall” about the earth's nature, and “Ecology Academy” that holds education programs on ecological arts. At Character Exhibition Hall, the most popular features are dolls of five characters, a painting of Jeju called “Geomeong Forest” as imagined by illustrators, and the colorful “Feather Forest” made of feather shapes that resemble the Pantone color chips. If you look up “The Planet,” you'll see countless photos of children in Feather Forest. The second hall, the Biodiversity Exhibition Hall, features a space for 'Kusalnang Story' about a spruce tree from Hallasan. Moreover, a theater is screening videos such as the microscopic view of a scoop of seawater and about Christian Moullec, a pilot who led and flew with migratory birds. There is also a section that concisely shows the 4.6 billion years of the Earth's history through infographics is quite impressive.
2. Architecture Tour
A modern building stands out next to a road in Daejeong-eup. Make a turn around the building, and you will see a house that looks quite familiar. The number of pine trees next to the building with the round window is also similar. This is Chusa Hall, a house that resembles the house in Kim Jeong-hui's “Sehando.” Chusa Kim Jeong-hui, a late Joseon scholar and calligrapher, was exiled to Jeju for nine years in his fifties during the tumultuous political period. During his stay in Jeju, he worked on studies and dedicated his efforts in calligraphy, completing the Chusa style and drawing “Sehando.” In 2010, architect Seung Hyo-sang designed a new building at the site of Chusa’s exile as a memorial for his art world. The exhibition hall displays Chusa's “Sehando,” National Treasure No. 180; “Panjeon,” the tablet of Bongeunsa Temple’s plaque; “Muryangsugak,” the plaque of Daedunsa Temple in Haenam, as well as letters to acquaintances.
There is also an important architecture at St. Isidore Ranch, in Sannoknam-ro of the middle mountainous area in western Hallasan. St. Isidore Ranch is famous for its organic milk from cows that graze on the green grass of Jeju. Nowadays, it is a tourist attraction for those who come to take pictures. Irish priest Fr. McGlinchey, who came to Jeju in the 1950s, dedicated his life to helping poor neighbors by starting livestock farming and building nursing homes with believers for local economic independence. There is an architecture he built with the locals from the technology he learned from Ireland as a temporary residence on the ranch. Called “Ctesiphon,” this style of buildings was built around 2,000 years ago in Baghdad. It is a tent-shaped structure applied with silver grass and cement, even with the heating on the floor. In the past, only architecture students would come to see it, but it attracted the public's attention with the mystical photo of the old building, taken with the wide view of the green grassland spanning five square-kilometers. The wooden house at the entrance is a milk cafe, a cafe selling organic milk and dairy products from Jeju.
3. Gourmet Restaurants at the Western Tip of Jeju
- Nimome Vintage Lounge (니모메 빈티지 라운지)
|Nimome Vintage Lounge|
While heading toward Aewol from the airport, once you reach Oedo-dong, you will find Nimome Vintage Lounge, a beautiful café-like a seaside hut. The residents abbreviate this place as “Nibinra” and call it one of the best cafes in Jeju. It has a great view with nice decorations, and the cake tastes perfect. Sitting by the window on the first floor, you can embrace the sea of Aewol all to yourself. The basement floor is fun to explore with the owner’s antique collection from around the world. The inner section of the basement is the most romantic in the café with lace curtains.
- Cafe Chalong (카페차롱)
Jeju people have been storing and carrying rice cakes in bamboo bowls like lunch boxes, called “chalong. Inspired by Jeju's old customs, this Andeok restaurant serves their food in three-tiered wooden boxes. In June 2019, they renovated a stone house and opened this café, which became a social media hotspot in half a year. The three-tiered box, neatly packaged in bojagi, is packed with soy shrimp with fried tofu filled with rice, abalone butter rice, gimbap with black pork and egg, rolled egg sandwich, fried fish with aioli sauce, and Jeju's special product omegiddeok. There are so many customers that you may have to wait 30 minutes to 2 hours even if you start waiting at the opening time. You can also make a reservation first and then visit a nearby sightseeing spot.
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