Travel: Jeju Island: Sea, Shellfish and Haenyeo [buzz korea]

In my entire life, I’ve only been slapped once, and that was by my dad when I was an impertinent 8-year-old brat. I daresay I deserved it. Hah. Last week, I got slapped again – by the sands of Jeju beaches. I kid you not – the winds were so strong that they’d blow along the sand, which would slam into my stocking-clad legs like hundreds of mini bullets. Ouch.

Being bitch-slapped by the sands aside, Jeju Island is one of the new 7 wonders of nature, so I had to put aside my city girl and go forth to embrace nature.

This was the beach behind The Shilla Hotel – actually, we learned from our friendly and chatty cab driver during our cab ride to the Teddy Bear Museum that the beach can be accessed via 3 hotels – Lotte Hotel, The Shilla and The Hyatt.

We tried accessing the beach via Lotte Hotel Jeju, but the snooty staff wouldn’t even show us the way to the beach (cos you have to go through their grounds past the pool and the windmills). Hmph. Fancy hotel, fancy schmancy manners.

Thankfully, The Shilla’s staff were wayyyyy friendlier. They told us very nicely how to get to the beach – in fact, you can even trek around the grounds if you want to, and they have such a beautifully landscaped grounds with many trekking paths!

Anyhoos, enough verbal diarrhea – here’s photos of Jeju’s beach~~

Jeju Eating with HaenyeoBeautiful scenery from the top as we try to find our way downwards…

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (1)… let’s spoil the scenery! haha.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (2)Me looking all lumpy and clumpy with the 4 layers I had underneath – I really wasn’t prepared for the crazy winds of Jeju.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (3)On our way downwards. You see that tiny white speck there? That’s Jasmine. haha.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (4)Passing by a hugeeee garden with beautiful flowers – See the huge crowds of people behind me? I doubt they were all guests of The Shilla, but they were all happily trekking and wandering the grounds.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (5)Finally.. we are nearing the beach! Just about maybe 1,000 more steps downwards – you MUST wear track shoes or trekking shoes for good support, grip and traction. It’s really no joke – I was huffing and puffing as if I were Paris Hilton who actually had to carry her own handbag.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (6)We haz arrived!

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (7)Commemorative shot – plus, notice how our hair strands are flying all over the place?

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (8)

After wandering around for a bit and trying to do the Baywatch sand run, we found this place called Haenyeo Jib 해녀집. It literally means House of the Women of the Sea.

Now, Jeju is really well known for their haenyeo – women divers who would scour the waters for shellfish and abalone and other seafood to sell. In fact, they could hold their breaths for 2-3 minutes and were said to be the Mermaids of Jeju, since they could almost “live” in water. Click here to find out more about Jeju’s Mermaids.

Since we were there, we decided that we might as well indulge in local specialties and eat the seafood fresh, by the sea. There were a row of Haenyeo eommonis 해녀 엄머님 who had just a plastic table and chairs and their wares by the seaside.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (9)

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (10)A plate of shellfish / seafood / I don’t know what it’s called for just KRW2,000.  You can’t see the “meat”, so you’ll have to use a toothpick to poke into the tiny hole you see, and twist it out in a circular movement – kinda like coaxing it out of the shell.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (11)This is what it looks like – the longer the spiral, the more “meat” you’ll get to eat. Pluck off the small circular thing that I call “the sticker”, dip it with the red spicy sauce and you’re ready to go!

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (12)Happy with her long, long spiral.

Of course, the haenyeo also sell more than just shellfish – they have fresh octopuses that they can chop and sell to you on the spot. This is how they’re packaged, and notice the long knife at the bottom. This would cost KRW10,000. We didn’t order this cos I’m allergic to seafood and Jasmine can only eat that much.

Jeju Eating with Haenyeo (13)

HOLY MOTHER OF JACK SPARROW – THE OCTOPUS IS TRYING TO ESCAPE OMGGGGGGGG. I just kept having strange images of them climbing out over the styrofoam box and eating me alive… Run for your lives~!!!

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