A few weeks ago some friends and I acting on a tip went to an island off the north of Jeju called Chujado. Knowing nothing about the island I packed some clothes and took off in a cab to catch the daily ferry. The vessel was called “The Pink Dolphin” and looked like a worthy enough boat. I boarded with high spirits not knowing I was getting aboard something akin to Willy Wonka’s chocolate riverboat. Five minutes into the ride the sea began to rock the boat. I tried to walk around but my legs were rubber. I sat down and closed my eyes trying to sleep. Poseidon had other plans. I heard the people around retching violently as their stomachs caved to the ferocious swaying of the boat, but clenched my jaw determined to make it to Chuja with my breakfast intact. This went on for an hour, the Dolphin carving it’s way up and down relentless swells and me staring ahead trying to keep my mind blank as my hopes for arrival slowly dwindled. The boat stopped miraculously and so did the demon in the my stomach. I stepped onto Chujado with relief and a new outlook on life.
The island itself is small. One major town center with a small village a ten minute car ride away. The whole thing is walkable in about seven hours and has an amazing Olle that winds along its coastline over hills and through fields. We found a cheap hotel to stay at along the trail that was right on the ocean and had a spectacular roof.
Our first night we feasted on pork Korean barbecue style where you cook it yourself on a grill built into the table and then did a night hike. On our way back to our hotel we heard noise from a staircase and investigated. Inside we found some friendly Koreans front of a big screen TV singing karaoke. A group of quiet friends watched approvingly from a table. One man in particular took a liking to us (despite speaking barely any English) and immediately began to buy us drinks that were magically replaced when empty. In return we sang them songs. I began with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and all of us closed out the night with a stirring rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The next morning we took off on a hike around the island and took in the sweeping ocean views. We realized we were running late for the departing ferry and fortuitously flagged down a Bongo who’s driver happened to be going right to the terminal. The ferry ride back was smooth. I even got a nap in.