Cruising… to Jeju Island, South Korea

Well it’s Golden Week in Shanghai and do you know what that means?? Everybody is gone! Well not really. But a large percentage of the city has gone back home to other parts of China for the week-long holiday. So the streets are less crowded, the pollution is minimal and there is a cool breeze in the air. It is a beautiful thing! I love this time of year!

Last week we went on a holiday of our own, a 4 day cruise to South Korea and Japan! We did a similar cruise 2 years ago to different places in Japan like Tokyo, Hososhima and Wakayama. However, this cruise was a little different. This time we were on an incredible Royal Caribbean boat and we were one out of only 3 American couples on board!! The rest of the guests were Chinese which made the cruising experience unique, like always.

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We left Shanghai last Saturday and set sail for South Korea with our friends Randy and Jenny and their daughter Sammie. The next day we arrived in Jeju, a volcanic island in South Korea. While the rest of the boat set off on Chinese bus tours, we took a taxi to Seongsan Ilchulbong or “Sunrise Peak”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a 40 minute ride through open fields and orange groves, we saw a chunk of rock rising from the sea. Seongsan Ilchulbong is a tuff cone formed by hydrovolcanic eruptions that created a bowl-like crater surrounded by steep cliffs. It basically looks like a giant stone fortress in the sea. Cool.

In the mid-afternoon heat, we began the steady climb up the cliff, maneuvering through the throngs of Chinese tourists. It was a beautiful day and I was excited to be in South Korea for the first time!

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It was going to be fun!

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We love stairs. Look, so happy!

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We passed by several of these funny little stone men, said to be protectors of the mountain. Locally they are called “dol hareubang” or “stone-grandfathers”.

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With our friend Jenny. Why am I so tall.

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After 30 minutes of intense stair climbing, we made it to the top of the crater! It was quite amazing to see.

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Looking awesome (and tired).

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Thankfully there was a legit staircase back down the cliff, which was a lot easier than the stone staircase on the way up. We had an amazing view of Jeju Island!

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With little time to spare, Jenny and I ran down to the ocean to take a few photos before finding our taxi driver again.

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After only 10 minutes or so we had to run back up the stairs! I was ready.

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On the way back, we saw a lot of people walking around with these oddly shaped snacks that looked cream-filled? Oh dear. Sammie bought one and found out that it was ice cream! The design is actually genius because it prevents the ice cream from melting onto your hand. But it just looks totally inappropriate. Hahaha.

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We didn’t have any time to shop for souvenirs so we piled back into the taxi all nice and sweaty for the long drive back to the boat. It was perfect timing because we arrived back early enough to quickly board the boat before all the Chinese tours. We even had time to go for a swim and we had the pool deck all to ourselves!! It was glorious. Almost like a real vacation!

That night we enjoyed a nice dinner and went to bed early. We were exhausted from all those stairs and we had to rest up for Japan the next day.

We love cruising!


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