|Eastar Air is a small airline. I had never heard of them before, but I think they mostly do short domestic flights around Korea. I managed to get off the bus at the airport, though I realized after I got off that I was at the International Terminal instead of the Domestic Terminal. No worries. Even though it was cold the walk was short enough. Check in went without a hitch. The agent was bothered by the fact that I had no visa. "Um, I can be here at least 30 days without a visa," I told her. Ah, was all she said. The flight was short, less than an hour. The Jeju Island airport is much newer and nicer than the Busan airport, but I didn't see much of it. A girl at the Tourist Information desk told me which bus to take to my hotel. City bus again. Ugh.
Somehow I just guessed right at the bus stop. I wasn't quite sure where to find the hotel from the stop, so I wandered down a couple of streets looking for a hotel like the picture I had of the Hotel Robero. I found a man at a little store and showed him the picture. He knew exactly where it was and pointed to it. As it turned out, I was less than a block away when I exited the bus if I had just kept walking on the main street. Hm.
It was early, just a little past 9:00 a.m. and the guy at the desk really wasn't interested in helping me. Check in is not until 2 p.m. I asked for help with a tour or something. He didn't speak much English and let me know he was too busy to worry with me. He did go get someone else out of the back room who, after a short argument, came out to help me. Mostly, he told me to take a cab to the bus station and they would help me with a tour. After a little thought, I decided to set out on foot.
I had breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts. Then, wandered to the local fish market. It was a cornucopia of fish. But there were also little stands selling local tea, oranges and tangerines, local candy, and little replicas of the Dol Hareubang, the stone grandfathers. These were little stone men that used to stand guard all over the island. Some 48 of them still exist. But now, there are new Dol Hareubang all over the island, especially in gift shops, and they come in all sizes. The "real" ones are carved from volcanic stone, though there are many fakes made of...well, anything from plastic to cement. I bought a little gift (pasalubang) for Sang and Diane and a Dol Hareubang for myself. Not the 4 foot variety, but the 8 inch one. A "real" one, of course.
I found a little kiosk tourist information booth and the girl working there seemed happy to have someone to talk to. Jeju is a big tourist destination, but to say I am here at off season would be an understatement. I am here at dead season. And, it is colder than Busan. The girl helped me book a tour for Saturday. I decided on a tour of the Eastern section of the island.
I went back to the hotel and got checked in. Nice room. After s few minutes I was off again to check out the dragon head rock. The walk was nice, if a little cold. I had to cross a suspension bridge. Fun. The dragon head drew lots of tourists, though it was a little anti-climatic. A rock. If you use your imagination you could see a dragon head. I got my obligatory pictures in any case.
I decided to head over to the street the tour books call black pork street for dinner. Black pork...actually the pigs are black, the meat is pretty much the same as normal pork...is a signature dish on Jeju.
I found the street pretty easily and went into the first restaurant on the round. The place was one of those cook at the table places. This was slightly disappointing to me as I was envisioning black pork cutlets. Not to worry, they kicked me out of the restaurant anyway. It seems they have a rule against dining alone. Steve Martin would have put that in his movie about the lonely guy if only he had known.
The second place welcomed me. At least all of Jeju is not so nasty. Where is al the Jeju warmth I read about? They recommended a special pork dinner. As soon as I agreed they started bringing food to the table. The pork was really fatty bacon in big slabs. I was hopeful at least some of the fat would cook away. One man cut my pork into little pieces to finish cooking then turned the fire off. No, crispy bacon... The lady came back around and showed me how to eat it. You put the bacon fat on two different kinds of lettuce to make a little bacon fat taco. Then you add some kimchi, some special sauce, some onion. You roll it up and eat it. It takes a while to chew the bacon fat, but if you put enough other stuff on the taco it's not quite like eating a fat taco.
There was a sign for a sauna in the basement of the hotel, so one more hot room before turning in. I may be addicted to Korean sauna.