Blog post Tom - Adventure of a lifetime: My trip to Jejudo

Blogger Tom Hollestelle in Seoul with the Seoul skyline in the background

During my exchange in Seoul, I decided to stay within the city and discover more of the country. In October we had a big break, of almost two weeks, and I took this opportunity to travel outside of the country, so via a very long layover in Taipei, the coffee capital of Asia, I continued the rather jaw-opening experience to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The trip as well as the holiday is a story to never forget, and perhaps write a book about one day, but for this post I want to provide more insight on what it is like to travel within South Korea. For a country with a capital city so technologically advanced, I was curious to discover more unknown areas of the country. And so, together with a few friends, I hopped on a plane to Jejudo.

Jejudo is definitely not considered a famous holiday destination for us Europeans, but when you go on exchange to Seoul, all you’ll hear people talk about is this place. You have no idea what it is, where it is, and why it is so popular amongst exchange students and locals. It is the ultimate get-away and weekend trip destination for many. Jejudo is a volcanic island, south off the coast of South Korea. The island is completely formed by volcanoes and volcanic eruptions, and since 2007, the volcanic island of Jeju can be found on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. In fact, the air route from Seoul to Jeju is the world’s busiest, with over 10 million passengers flown between the two cities per year. I was absolutely fascinated to see that there were 4-6 flights per hour to and from Jeju. A friend and I took off on a Thursday afternoon, only 15 minutes before another few friends of ours, and just a few hours before another group of people we knew.

Taking off during sunset was stunning as the view of Seoul from above was seriously indescribable. Only 50 minutes later we landed on the volcanic island, ready to explore. Our main reason for going to Jeju was to hike to the very top of the volcano, which also happens to be the highest peak of South Korea. And so we did, during our first full day with the entire group. Still suffering from food poisoning from Indonesia (of which I had just gotten back the day before leaving to Jeju), the hike was an immense challenge, and us a good 11 hours to hike up and all the way down. But how many Europeans get to tell their friends and family they’ve hiked to the highest peak of South Korea? Exactly!

Despite the relatively bad weather and still being sick from Indonesia, Jeju is an incredible island. So quiet, so clean, so beautiful. It really puts you in touch with nature and allows you to inhale clean and healthy air again, rather than just constantly ‘consuming’ dirty smog in Seoul.

Travelling within Korea is surely something I can recommend. Being the only two white people on the plane is something you won’t experience in Europe, and that makes the experience so unique. It sounds weird, but traveling allows you to really get in close contact with the locals. Book the ticket, run to the airport, hop on the plane, and discover South Korea’s paradise. Oh, and don’t bring oversized powerbanks in your hand luggage like I did, security almost mistook it for an explosive and had to run it by computers for about half an hour.

Blog post Tom - Adventure of a lifetime: My trip to Jejudo

Exchange provides an immense amount of opportunities, ranging from discovering a new culture, meeting new people, becoming tolerant to spicy and interesting looking food, and traveling.