From meditation to an off-road adventure, Jeju has it all
While still airing on the side of caution, many are beginning to venture outside the confines of their homes for the first time in months since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Despite having to be confined during the one-hour flight, the short trip to Jeju Island makes it the perfect destination for those with a case of the travel bug.
In recent years, a trip to Jeju could be entirely centered around cafe-hunting, as many talents from the Korean Peninsula including K-pop stars and actors began opening up coffee shops in some of the islands most scenic spots. But considering the amount of time people have been spending indoors, Jeju's outside options are likely the perfect remedy for those quarantine blues.
Let nature heal you at Seogwipo Forest of Healing. The 15-kilometer-long (9.3 miles) forest trail awaits to offer tranquility accompanied with the occasional bird song alongside the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.
For those who want to minimize any energy-consuming activities, head to the barrier-free trail, designed for wheelchair users, which is entirely flat.
Close to the entrance is a place where you can bathe your feet and give your body a signal that its time to relax. The temperature may take some getting used to but before you know it a feeling of calm will wash over you.
No matter how warm of a day it is, the trees lining the paths offer adequate shade from the sun and relief from the heat.
After bathing your feet, don't feel obliged to put your socks and shoes back on, or even dry them for that matter. Feel the wooden deck on your bare feet, or even venture into the areas where trees are planted to feel the soft soil.
There is a short trail covered with small wood pallets to stimulate the soles of your feet as well as a large tree trunk lying on its side that you can walk along and test your balance.
After walking around aimlessly, you will happen upon some wooden sunbeds to lie down on and even take a nap.Give yourself enough time to rest and become completely immersed in this green world.
There is a forest therapist on site that can give you more information about how to fully enjoy the forest, as well as guided tours. For more information, go to healing.seogwipo.go.kr or call (064) 760-3067~8. The entrance fee is 1,000 won ($0.83) for adults.
If communicating with the nature is a bit too quiet for you, take a trip to Mulme Healing Farm. In western Jeju’s Aewol, farmers have decided to offer urban residents a chance to experience the more relaxing aspects of their daily routines. These days Mulme Healing Farm is particularly popular with those in the service industry who come in groups to take time to forget the stress of their jobs.
A farmer and resident of the area came up with the program after he became interested in meditation.
If you go now, it is sweetcorn harvesting season, so you can walk through the corn fields and even pick one for yourself. Known as chodang corn for its sweetness, this particular type is especially popular among foodies who like to eat it raw on the spot and feel the syrupy taste in their mouths.
The guide will then take you for a walk beside a small lake and along a trail. Although the “wellness walk” itself might be short and not-so-special, the guide makes it a fun and interactive experience by encouraging participants to do squats or jumps in teams or by themselves as part of a game. The point of this game is to use the muscles you don’t normally use every day to realize the importance of regular exercise.
At the end of the walk you can take part in a mediation session on a hill overlooking the village. You can sit and cool down after working up a sweat on the trail. Some treats from Jeju, warm tea or cold juice, are also served. There is a swing attached to a branch of a large tree for whoever wants to take a try.
After exercising and meditating you can enjoy a healthy lunch made with locally grown ingredients.
Full-day or two-day programs are available, besides a four-hour session that is 40,000 won per person. The two-day program includes planting vegetables and horseback riding.
For more information, call (010) 8703-2478 or (010) 9194-9582.
As Jeju is a volcanic island, rice fields that are common throughout mainland Korea are rarely seen.
However, there is one place where rice is grown on Jeju — Hanon Crater. The crater used to be a lake, but about 500 hundred years ago people saw a chance to grow rice. You can enjoy an overall view of the fields from the top of the crater before taking the stairs down.
Rice grown here isn’t sticky enough for the general taste of Koreans, so it is not used as part of a meal. Instead, this rice is sent to make Jeju’s local alcoholic beverages like makgeolli and soju.
There is a visitor’s center for those wanting to get more historic and environmental information about the crater. Call (064) 733-2912 for more.
If you're looking for a more extreme activity then look no further than Jerazin Jeju Camp, which is one of the few places that offers off-road experiences on Jeju Island. Taking the less traveled roads definitely makes you feel like you are an explorer and the bumpy roads offer quite the ride.
The camp owner is preparing to install 360-degree recording devices so those who want a memento of their experience can purchase a video of the adventure.
You will be assigned with a trained driver and have to be at least 120 centimeters tall to take part. It costs 39,000 won per person.
After a bumpy ride, you can relax and regain your composure by a tranquil pond. If you are lucky, you can spot some horses lounging. The driver is also happy to act as your personal photographer.
For more information, go to www.jejuoffroad.kr or call (070) 8880-3900.
No trip is complete without some tasty treats. Head down to Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market for a roll of gimbap filled with grilled mackerel pike. On either end, the head and tail of the fish peek out. There is nothing else in the roll, but the salty, greasy feel with warm rice wrapped in laver. Other treats, from raw seafood to local citrus, are all available at the market to fill up after a day of adventure.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [email@example.com]