Jeju Island, South Korea - Day Four + Experience Afterthoughts
To wrap up our four day trip, we decided on three activities before our flight back home to Manila: Hallim Park, Strawberry picking & hitting Duty Free for a little shopping. After the tiresome day three we had I woke up with my legs aching, some moderate sniffles and my lower back hurting when I'd cough. Yep, definitely out of shape. I was glad our final day was more chill and relaxed. (If you missed days 1-3, you can read them here.)
Our first stop was Hallim Park for our dose of nature through a huge botanical garden that houses different kinds of plants, flowers and some animals here and there. It was so gigantic that it was easy to get lost in (and I did get lost a few times!), but getting lost isn't an issue if you're in no rush. I love getting lost because you stumble upon places without expectations, so you're surprised each time.
My favorite spot in Hallim Park: the Cacti garden! I could stay in here for hours if it wasn't so darn hot inside. Haha
Palm Tree Avenue
The Tulips were in season!!!!
Look at all those beautiful Tulips! They look so perfect and in such pristine condition, I almost couldn't believe they were real. I actually thought they might be fake, but I didn't dare touch one. I'll just have to take Jeju's word for it. Peacocks chilling
Hello there, Ostrich! It scared the bejesus out of me because I was taking a photo while it was looking away, and then suddenly it turned its head towards me so fast, it was as if it was saying, "I SEE U" When it comes to colorful, this is my kind of palette. Such lovely colors and cute chubby birds <3Roadside view of a beach on our way to go strawberry picking. I loved this scenery. That dessert and coffee truck is the cutest thing.
We visited a local farmer who sold strawberries in boxes by the kilo (for only Php 400!!!) and also offered strawberry picking, and you were allowed to fill up your plastic container to the brim and eat the strawberries while you picked them as well. This was such a fun activity for me because strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. The farmer also taught us how to properly pick strawberries so that the stems dont die and could further produce more strawberries after we've already plucked them. The strawberries were plump, soft, deliciously sweet and juicy. They're the complete opposite of our local strawberries you can get from Baguio.
You pick a lane, and then you just start picking strawberries!
The best strawberries I've seen and tasted. What an experience. Parts of my hand were stained red afterward, because the strawberries were actually easily bruised that a lot of them I had to eat because I didn't handle them very well. Oops.
Duty Free Shopping
We stopped by Duty Free before heading to the airport to buy last minute gifts. Unfortunately, Jeju's Duty Free has a policy for foreign brands which is that you can't buy them right off the bat from Duty Free, they would have to ship it to you at the airport and that's where you pick it up, and it takes days. I was disappointed because I really wanted this MAC lipliner that only cost Php 800, instead of the usual Php 1,000 it gets sold here. So anyway, I stuck with the local Korean brands which you could buy right then and there with no problems... Except majority of the items were bundled with a Buy 1 Get 1 packs and by packs I mean they were big packs. Im talking 100 face masks in one pack, and you get another free so you get 200 total and seriously are you willing to put face masks on 3/4 of the entire year? Haha I ended up buying volcanic mud products from Innisfree, which I absolutely love. I also got something from Skinfood, which will be a cool giveaway for you guys because I love you all so so so much <3
Airport & Headed Home
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We had to be back at the airport 3 hours prior to our flight. A lot of us had to repack our luggage because cosmetics aren't allowed in your check-in. Since we bought a lot of cosmetics and skincare products at Duty Free, we had to stuff all of our buys into our already filled up suitcases. This is where I actually experienced having to sit on my bag so I could zipper it closed.
The airport, checking in, security and immigration lines were pretty uneventful save for the baggage officers contemplating if they should let me bring my 3 jars of fish paste with me on the plane because I forgot to put it in my check-in luggage. They almost didn't let me take it but I pleaded and said, "It's for my mom. That's all I bought for her! I need to bring it home. PLEASE.", and my begging worked because the baggage security guy looked at me as if he understood my peril, and then told me to run off to 7/11 and buy ziplock bags to place the jars of fish paste in. I did as I was told and then upon returning we placed the jars in the bag and he told me to be careful not to break it as if I was a 5 year old girl. So, to my mom, I hope you savor those jars of fish paste because I pleaded for them. They're not even that good, I am sad to report back to you guys.
Airport lunch consisted of Japanese food! I guess we got tired of Korean?
Wooosh, goodbye Jeju! Just like that, as swiftly as we had arrived, explored and fallen in love, we are whisked away on our Philippine Airlines chartered flight. From here I spent the rest of the evening finishing work (AGAIN) on the plane because I had a deadline to meet.
Imagine this: the entire plane is quiet, the lights are turned down save for some who have their reading lights on, everyone else around me is asleep. I'm typing away frantically on my tablet/laptop to meet a deadline the moment I land back in Manila and suddenly the keyboard bluetooth disconnects right at the same moment I hit backspace, it gets stuck on that command and my device starts deleting my two pages of work line by line. I panic and try not to scream, "NOOOOO WHAT ARE YOU DOING?", I'm on the verge of tears and only a few notches more before I go over my bullshit tolerance level, my device has malfunctioned and I see my work being deleted right before my very eyes. Thankfully the world decided to not completely shit on me because I forcefully shut down my laptop and upon booting up, it saved half of my work. That's the most eventful plane ride I've had my entire life and I hope that's the most eventful it will ever get; except maybe witnessing something cool on a plane like seeing a celebrity tumble drunk into economy, or witness a marriage proposal.
We finally land back in Manila to be greeted by this beautiful view of the city lights.
Here's a pro tip for night flights, something I learned on my flight to Germany last 2013:
If you're sitting in a window seat during a night flight and all the lights are turned off, cover yourself from behind your head with an airline blanket (so no other lights from the plane will cause a glare on the glass), now look out your window, while still having the blanket behind your head, and you'll see so many stars <3
I did this again on my flight home from Jeju and because Philippine Airlines's plane is in really great and clean condition, the windows were clean of scratches, so I saw more stars than I did on my Etihad flight. It was so fucking beautiful. I even saw shooting stars, and there were a lot. It's my favorite thing now, and I always prefer night flights for this very reason :)
I want to give a big THANK YOU to Rakso Travel agency for making this trip happen, and for the Jeju Tourism Board for arranging everything and making sure we had a great time. It was such a wonderful experience that I promised myself I would go back to Jeju one day and explore more, because Jeju has so much more to offer than what I showed here on my blog.
The 3 nights and 4 days trip to Jeju Island is definitely worth the time and money for the experience you'll get in this beautiful island. Even though the island's main income relies mostly on tourism, I love how Jeju still has that authentic feel and they never forget their roots despite all the museums and attractions that pop up that have little to do with their actual culture. The best part is that this island doesn't require a visa for Philippine citizens!
The chartered flight via Philippine Airlines through Rakso Travel is also heaps convenient. I know a lot of people prefer direct flights when traveling, and so Rakso Travel makes it 100% easier for you so you wont have to stop by Seoul before going to Jeju. Unless your plan includes Seoul, then this chartered flight is what I would recommend. Rakso Travel's chartered flight travels twice a year during the best season: Spring for those who want to experience the cold weather,g o on hikes and see beautiful sceneries and flowers in bloom; and Winter to experience some snow, go skiing and do other outdoor activities.
Our tour guide, Sunny, was the best tour guide I've ever had the pleasure of meetings and learning from! She was friendly, warm, open minded, funn, very hard working, and she actually made the Jeju tour ten times more fun! If you ever decided to go to Jeju and would love to book a tour with her directly or DIY your trip and meet her for 1-2 days, let me know so I can send you her email address! She does group tours for a maximum of 5 people in a group. :)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, every time I travel I always feel like I've left a piece of myself in the cities and towns I step foot on, and with Jeju I definitely left a big chunk of my heart. One day I'll be back again <3
For more information on how to make your own Jeju, South Korea trip happen or other travel destinations, you may check out www.raksotravel.com, or follow their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for more information.
Disclosure: This entire trip was sponsored by Rakso Travel & the Jeju Tourism Office. All thoughts & opinions expressed in this post are solely my own, with no influence from the third party.