Saturday, June 29, 2013

Driving Around Udo Island in Jeju

It was around Christmas holidays in Year 2011 when I took a handful of guts and finally conquered the commuters' jungle in Metro Manila - EDSA.  At that time, it had only been months since I learned the basic lesson of manual driving with an instructor or my brother in the passenger's seat but haven't tried driving alone yet.  The culprit who left me no choice but to gather much bravery to drive was the crazy traffic in the metro that got heavier than ever even beyond midnight, when going home after a mid-shift was getting more difficult.

Moving forward first quarter of Year 2012,  I took driving in full force! I live in the eastern part of General Manila Area where main roads are on uphill and where having your own car is much cheaper and more convenient than coming to work on public transport.  Every day, I mumble a prayer as I drive up Batasan Hills on manual transmission - when I need to perfectly work on clutch, gas and brake trying not to bump the car ahead of me or hit the one behind me.  I've always wished the traffic lights are always green!

Those were stressful driving days for me but was indeed a perfect training for me.  I've proven that you only need enough bravery in driving! It's like making quick decision to step on brakes when the car ahead takes an abrupt halt or makes an unwarned left or right turn.

By the time I scheduled my solitary trip to South Korea, I had much confidence that I can drive in Jeju Island too. I read from many travel tips and blogs that Jeju can be best explored via self-driving. I was about to take it but found out it was a bit expensive for a solo traveler like me. On top of that, I may not able to see the best places as I pass them because I need to focus on the road. So I scrapped if off from my list.

Then, I learned about Udo Island.

the ferry to Udo Island

Welcome to Udo Island
Udo Island is one of the islets surrounding Jeju Island.  From Seongsan Port, it is accessible in a 15-minute-ferry ride.  A day is enough to go around the Cow Island on bikes, ATVs or even on foot.  So I nailed it down in my itinerary in Jeju Island.

The island is as charming as its name. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with lots of rental booths for bikes, ATV and bus tours. Fees vary as well. Bikes can be rented for KRW10,ooo, ATV and scooter for KRW20,000 and Bus Tour for KRW5,000. I could join the bus tour but I wanted to drive on my own. Having seen the landscape of the island from afar, there are lots of uphills too so I gave up biking and went for ATV. After all, it's still a driving experience.

After I paid KRW20,000 for my two-hour-ATV rental, the guy gave me a quick orientation on how to use the ATV -which to push, to start, to break and how to open the engine of the machine. It's quite easy as I've driven a scooter and ATV before.

Udo Maritime Park offers a lot of places to go around the "Lying Cow Island" such as Udo Peak, Geommeolle Beach, Dongangyeonggul Cave & Sebin White Sand Beach. But living in a beautiful tropical country, Philippines,I have easy access to these so I just spent my half-day driving around Udo Island with my camera in a tripod, tied to my backpack that was safely trapped onto the net. (i needed a gopro!)

It's time to take that camera rolling!

I went first to the area where I saw houses - to the neighborhood and villages. It was perfectly serene and seemed like a normal neighborhood for me. The houses were separated with piles of stones that served as fences. I just drove everywhere for more than half an hour until I decided to go around the route encircling the island. I stopped in any places I thought best for photoshoot - the yellow wild flowers, the Jeju women from afar, the scenery.

From the island shores, you can see the women scuba divers of Jeju Island, their pride, who've known to catch the creatures from the sea as their means of living. Fresh from their catch, there are kiosks along the shore that serve food. I wish I tried but it was difficult to order without any menu to refer to.

Udo Light House

the many sights of Udo Island

One of the women of Jeju - they're strong to scuba diving everyday
in front of one of the cafes in Udo Island - South Korea seemed like cheesy in love. I've seen a lot of this kind for a photo.  For the time being, I sat on my own. Will see in the future if I can have somebody beside me.

South Korea as haven of coffeeshops, Udo Island is also surrounded with many cafes.  It was so relaxing to take a sip of coffee while looking at the calmness of the ocean, the sounds of the waves and chirping of the birds.  They're of different themes too.  I wish I could have stayed overnight in the island and just enjoy all the time in the world to just sit back and relax...and allow for the time to just go by.

various stops for food fresh from the sea
After two hours, I went back to the rental booth and returned the ATV.  By that time, it was 12NN already and the next schedule of ferry back to Seongsan Harbour was at 12:30. 

But then, I remembered one thing! I have to taste it's famous peanut ice cream!

Udo's peanut ice cream.
I took the ferry back to Seongsan Harbour for my next stop, Seongsang Ilchulbong.  It was a bit difficult for me to leave the island.  For some reason, I left my heart in there.  I always love the sea, especially the island.  It's my dream to have a resthouse in an island or at the top of the mountain where I can see the ocean.  As I sat down inside the ferry, I told myself I will go back and stay for the night.
My driving experience via ATV in Udo Island is making another dream happen! Watch it here! :-)

Additional Tips:
Getting to Udo Island
Take an intercity bus from Seogwipo or Jeju City or direct buses (Dongilju bound for Seongsan) to Seongsangri Port. Get off at Seongsalliipgu bus stop .  From Seogwipo, I actually took the intercity bus at Jungmun Rotary and just asked the driver if going Seongsan Ilchulbong.  You can see anyways the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong for the Seongsalliipgu bus stop.  Estimated travel time is 2.5 hrs.  From there, take the taxi for a quick 10-minutes drive to Seongsan Harbour. Then, take the ferry to Udo Island.  You may get one-way or return ticket.  It takes only 15-minutes to get to Udo Island.
1. Bus tour via Udo Shuttle Bus when 30 minutes intervals for every designated stops.  If you neither want to sweat biking around the island that will take much longer and have a driver license to rent ATV or scooter, this is the only option to go around Udo Island.
2. ATV or Scooter Rental - KRW20,000 for two hours
3. Biking KRW10,000 for two hours
There are a lot of inns and hostel around (some are on-going construction) but if you just wish to take a quick round and glimpse of the island, half of the day is enough and then spend the half of the day hiking up UNESCO Heritage, Seongsan Ilchulbong.


M!A AURORA said...


Izzati said...

Do they need international license to drive that atv?

Wanderer Claire said...

Hi Izzati,
Yes, they require driver's license to drive the ATV. :-)

Wanderer Claire said...

Thanks for the comment, Mia! :-)