Udo, Jeju, South Korea
Udo, literally Cow Island in Chinese, is so-called because it is supposed to look like a cow laying down. It is a romantic, intimate place despite the ever-present tour buses trekking along the main roads of the island. There you can find stunning sea vistas, old stone walls complimenting rolling fields and people getting their livelihood from the sea. One fine morning in April, we got up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus out to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). It is from the harbour in Seongsan that you catch the ferry out to the island. The ferry is a nice trip in itself – a fifteen-minute boat ride where one can watch the steep cliff of Seongsan Ilchulbong receding and the mounded slope of Udo emerging.
Traveling on Udo
Upon arrival at Udo one has a few choices of transportation. The ferry is able to transport cars, so if you are one of the lucky ones on this island who have their own wheels, bring them along. For those who don’t have wheels, you have three choices:
1. For the least adventurous, climbing into a bus that carts you over the island and stops at all the major tourist places is a good idea. The island is so small that you could probably see everything in an hour and be ready to go back by the next ferry, but you may need up to a few hours to take in all of the scenery.
2. There are a couple of places you can rent cute-looking scooters. However, the price is a bit steep – about 20,000 won per hour.
3. The most economical selection would be a bicycle. The bike choices range from grandma bikes with baskets in the front to nice mountain bikes with gears. We chose the mountain bikes which cost 10,000 won for the day. The gentleman renting the bicycles wanted us to give him our IDs as collateral, and, in return, he provided us with a bungee cord to strap our junk onto the bag holder on the back and a road map with his phone number written on it.
Things to see and do
We jumped on our bikes and merrily set off. The first stop was Hongjodangoe Haebin Beach (홍조단괴해빈 해수욕장), the only beach in Korea made of chunks of brilliant white coral. The next stop was at a cove filled with haenyeo divers. They were mesmerizing to watch as first one and then the next would go flippers up and slowly surface again, whistling as they emerged, hopefully with something to put in their catch baskets. We continued on our circuitous route of the island, making multiple stops to take pictures of the stunning vistas: yellow canola flowers contrasting with rock walls and the blue of the sea, young men doing military service by mowing said flowers down with scythes and Exacto knives, elderly women drying seaweed drying seaweed in the middle of the road, and the lava/sandstone cliffs at Tolkani (톨까니). At Tolkani, one can get a ride in a jet boat to explore the caves in the cliff. One can also hike up the hill in order to take pictures of the colourfully tiled roofs of the small villages set among fields of grain. Our meandering cycle took us less than three hours and then we caught the ferry back to Jeju.
Ferries run at least hourly. The first one to Udo is at 8:30 and the last one to leave from there is at 4:30. Call the ferry at 782-5671 for more information.
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