I have been staying in Busan for 6 weeks now and just had a chance to visit Geoje Island (거제도) located not far from Busan. We rented a car from Busan Station and drove to the island on Friday afternoon after we finished the Korean class. There were 3 nationalities on the trip; my lovely Korean friend, Hoyun, and my crazy Taiwanese friend, Kaxin, and myself from Thailand.
I booked a 2 bedroom apartment via Airbnb. The apartment was so comfortable & stylish and located in the middle of the island, very convenient to get around. I would highly recommend to stay in this place if you visit Geoje Island.
On Saturday morning we went hiking up 566 m high Gyeryongsan Mountain (계룡산). It was the highlight of this trip. We were very lucky with the weather as it was not as hot as we expected. It took us 2 hours to reach the top of the mountain and 1 hour on the way back. All along the way I very much enjoyed seeing, smelling and drinking in the nature! Seeing all those beautiful mushrooms growing and drying, smelling those trees, hearing animals and drinking the water from the mountain gave me the energy to live longer – I felt like I’m going to live another 100 years!
And when we reached the top of the mountain at 566m above the sea, we were rewarded with a spectacular view over the island. On one side the view is the rural area with green rice fields and many small villages and on the other side is the city view with modern high buildings. Seeing the rural side made me miss my hometown very much. We saw two different worlds from the top of Gyeryongsan Mountain!
Kaxin, my Taiwanese friend, had never been hiking before in her life. When I said that we are going hiking, she was like, “Really?” I said, “Yes, really!” She could not refuse to come with me probably because she likes my Thai cooking so much! During the hike it was a bit difficult for her but she tried her best and she did a great job of hiking and entertaining us at the same time!
On the way back I saw Korean people with a lot of plastic bottles and they were taking water from the mountain. Hoyun told me that Korean people believe that the mountain’s water is the best water to drink. You will be healthy and strong as you have received the energy from the mountain. Therefore many Korean people hike a long way to take mountain’s water to use in their house, some for drink and some for cooking. After hearing that, I did not hesitate to drink a lot of water from the mountain and even took one big bottle home for cooking in the evening. It was the most delicious water ever!
The beauty of nature..
When you visit South Korea you should not miss hiking. Therefore do a bit of working out to get fit before coming to South Korea. I have enjoyed hiking since I was a teenager and I did 2000m in Thailand 3 times and I always try to hike when I visit other countries. If you have never hiked before, I highly recommend you try. Do something different than you are used to and you will enjoy a great experience of traveling in South Korea.
We reached the bottom of the hill around 1 pm and saw a beautiful temple at the bottom of the hill so we just went in. It was a small temple but beautiful and peaceful. There was nobody there which I liked the most!
After praying at the temple we went for lunch. We found a local restaurant near the car park and it was the real deal! I highly recommend this place. The restaurant is located just opposite the Historic Park of Geoje POW Camp.
After we finished lunch we went to the Historic Park of Geoje POW Camp located just next to the entrance of the Gyeryongsan Mountain. It was enjoyable.
After a very long day we went home and rested before going to see the sunset. The day had not ended yet! Hoyun took us to the most stylish sunset cafe on the island. We enjoyed expensive drinks with a stunning sea view! However, there were too many people in the cafe waiting to see the sunset. Hoyun told me that this cafe is very famous and popular with Koreans; I was not surprised to hear that.
After an hour of sitting in the cafe I felt like I could not end my day here. No way! Then I looked around and asked Hoyun if we can drive to the other side to check it out. It was not a waste of time as we found the most peaceful and beautiful location to watch the sunset privately! Our day ended so beautifully and colourfully.
On Sunday we checked out from the apartment around 10.30 am. We just planned to go to the beach and drive along the seaside and then head back to Busan. On the way to the seaside we drove to a small village with a beautiful green rice field. I asked Hoyun to pull over and we just walked in to the rice field. This rice field reminded me a lot of my childhood when I lived with my parents in the countryside in the north of Thailand. Living with my parents in the countryside is one of the most delightful periods in my life. Without that lifestyle I would not have become the person who I am today.
We also met a local farmer who was cutting grass on his own. I went straight to him to practise my Korean by saying hello and saying that he has a beautiful rice field. He returned me with a big smile and said that his rice is very good! He was so friendly and delighted to see us as probably no tourist visited his rice field before! He even invited us to come to his house next time. How kind and wonderful he was. He reminded me a lot of my father who passed a way 20 years ago when I was teenager. My father was a hard working farmer and did his best for our family and to support me to go to college after I finished middle school in the village. But I did not have a chance to do anything for him.
After a great morning start at the rice field, we went to check out the Windy Hill, the famous viewpoint on the island.
After that we headed to Hak Dong beach, a stone beach not a sandy beach like I’m used to but it was beautiful and different. There were a lot of Korean people enjoying the weekend. I did not swim as I did not bring my swimming costume but it seemed no problem for Kaxin to swim with her jeans on! I like how spontaneous she can be; she keeps making me laugh all the time!
It was the most enjoyable weekend I have so far since I have been living in Busan for 6 weeks. The person who made this trip much more enjoyable than I expected was Hoyun, my Korean friend. He joined us at the last minute and recommended to rent a car and drive to the island. Hoyun is the most caring friend that anyone could ever ask for and I appreciated a lot his help and his hospitality. I hope I can repay his kindness when he visits Thailand.
Hope you enjoy reading!