After leaving Jeju, we headed straight to Boseong, country's renowned tea region, if mostly for the sights and tea bags they primarily produce. Like half expected, it turned out to be quite a heavily touristy place, however we did visit on a public holiday which might have contributed to the crowd. We normally rather steer clear of tourist hot spots, as authenticity usually lies elsewhere, but this was worth a visit even if just for the views.
First we walked through a charming forest that surrounds the plantation and saw squirrels playing and running around - considering their size, those animals are making a surprising amount of noise! Then we climbed a seemingly endless flight of stairs all the way up to the top of the hill where the plantation was situated. Flushed and out of breath but with a sense of satisfaction, we reached the top. The whole Boseong valley opened up beneath us and we realised the walk was definitely worthwhile.
Still in Jeju-do, with another tea themed day in sight - we went to visit O'Sulloc tea field and tea museum and finished off with a visit to a wonderful bonsai garden.
The day started off rather cloudy with even a few tiny rain drops, so not very inviting for a day out on a scooter. After checking the weather forecast though, we saw that it's supposed to clear up by 1pm and decided we'd take the plunge anyway.
It was an adventurous ride down the highway on a tiny scooter with cars and trucks speeding past us...which we survived just fine :) (Did I mention that neither of us really drove scooters or motorcycles before?)
Once we arrived to the museum, we had a look around the inside and then the tea fields with neatly trimmed bushes. We were told before arriving to Jeju that at the beginning of their operation, O'Sulloc have imported Japanese technology to make green tea. We got a confirmation when we spotted the fans in the tea field, the same ones we know very well from Japan, maintaining the perfect air temperature. We have seen no such fans on other Korean tea plantations.
Eventually we sat down to have some tea and wanted to try to Korean powdered tea - which was sadly not on the menu. So we had the top and second grade green tea, to compare. They were nice, but none of them quite earth-shattering. All in all, they have a wonderful packaging and design at O'Sulloc, with some decent tea as well, however generally their teas simply aren't up to the standard of the ones we had in Daegu.
After the tea museum, we went further to see the Spirited Gardens, about 50 years old bonsai garden/park - bonsai trees that have grown quite a bit since being planted half a century ago. It was very pleasant to walk through this carefully arranged composition of trees, rocks and water with bridges. Fascinating and beautiful.
The following day, we moved up to the North of Jeju island, where we had some amazing food (meat for Niels, mushrooms for Mojca) and a day long walk.
First stop was the Gimnyeong Maze Park, where we joyfully got lost, working our way out from the maze and succeeding in the end!
We then carried on on foot to see the Manjanggul - world's largest lava cave created by volcanic activity, which was a dark but compelling sight. While inside the tunnel, I imagined how lava must have once been violently flowing through it, wreaking havoc underground, resulting in this natural monument today. It was a nice refreshment from the heat as well.
After a short flight from Busan, Jeju-do opened in front of us. This incredibly green island with too many sights to visit in a few days, was a splendid break from the bustling cities we visited beforehand. We stayed in the south where most tea plantations are located. Jeju island is famous in Korea for its green tea, as well as other local produce such as huge and juicy tangerines.
On a wonderful sunny day, with a pleasant breeze no less, we took off on a rented scooter to explore the Jeju southern tea fields. While we were visiting a few sights on the way there, the weather got really hot and we were very happy to arrive at what turned out to be the perfect place for a break. Straight away we spotted tea cups arranged neatly (and somewhat funnily) all around the tea house, which made us smile and feel this place is all about tea. Impressed by beautiful views of the plantation and the valley beneath it, we sat down to have some tea and of course some green tea ice cream. Our taste buds were more than pleased! Our other senses enjoyed when, properly refreshed, we took a walk around the tea field afterwards.
Everything from tea field to the tea house was so nicely done, it felt like being in a tea fairy land :)
The walls inside the tea house were covered with hundreds of hand-written notes from the happy visitors of the tea field and the house.