Our trip to Jeju would see us departing from the coastal city of Yeosu in South Jeonnam province. The hassle of getting to a location like Yeosu is outweighed by the fact that the ferry is an ostensibly more convenient way to transport your bike than on a plane. Perhaps slightly cheaper too, if you include the cost of couriering your bike via a packing service when you fly.
We set off from Yeosu in the early hours of Friday morning. Third-class tickets ran us about 40,000 won per person with an additional fee of 3000 won per bike. We stowed our bikes in the bowels of the ship and set off for the main deck where we quickly reserved comfortable spots to get some shuteye. The ferry ride itself is a typical Korean ferry experience. Bodies huddled together on rock-hard floors in the third-class cabins, with ajosshis fuelled by copious amounts of soju and fried chicken. Thank goodness for headphones. Ryan, having done this route a few times already, gave some sage advice to find a comfortable spot in the lounge area and to occupy a couch.
The boat docked in Jeju around 7am and we quickly went down to get our bikes and set off. After having to put up with rowdy ajosshis during the boat ride, the crisp sea air was refreshing and the views, well the views were sensational. Ryan even found some fame with the locals and had his picture taken. It quickly warmed up and without a cloud in the sky, the first 40 or so kilometres were absolute bliss.
That didn’t last long though, as a relentless head wind along Jeju’s west coast made it feel as if were riding into a brick wall. Either that, or I was horribly undercooked for this ride and didn't realise it. The highway roads along parts of the north-west coast weren't particularly scenic either, and I kept waiting for the trail to lead us back along the coast.
Hidden in the tiny Jeju town of Daejong on the south-east coast is Goro, a restaurant serving fresh Japanese fare where we stopped for a quick bite before heading on.
We continued on along the south-west coast in more favourable conditions and after what felt like a few treacherous climbs, arrived in Seogwipo where we’d post up for the night and meet up with some friends.
Horribly hungover, we departed Seogwipo at around 8am and decided to only go as far as Seongsan, for a distance of about 55km. Despite some foggy weather, we managed to avoid any rain and were able to enjoy much of what the south-east coast had to offer. This part of the route was thankfully a lot flatter than what we had ridden the previous day. We re-fuelled with some Chinese before heading to the world-famous Seongsan Ilchulbong; a UNESCO volcanic crater. No trip to Jeju would be complete without Jeju matcha ice cream either, which we got at Cali Soft Serve.
Our original plan was to do this trip in two days, but in our current states we (or at least I) didn't feel the need to rush back to Jeju City. In any case, we wouldn't have been able to make the Saturday ferry back and spending the day hanging around Jeju City seemed pretty pointless anyway, so it's just as well that we made the most of the afternoon in Seongsan.
We had also considered catching a Sunday morning ferry back to the small fishing town of Wando (about two hours from Jeju by boat), but found out that those boats weren't running due to maintenance. Either way, if you're considering doing this route then it's reassuring knowing that you have a few options to get back to mainland.
Feeling a lot more spritely, we departed Seongsan at around 7.30 on Sunday morning, once again to heavy mist and fog which was nothing short of aesthetic and made for ultra-moody scenes.
Despite visibility being very poor for most of the morning, the mist burned off by the time we reached Hamdeok on Jeju’s north-east coast. Brunch was jjampong and mandu, and it wouldn’t be a bike tour if we didn’t stop off at a typically Korean aesthetic cafe.
To be completely honest the first two days of riding had been rough, but this last day felt a lot more effortless. The mid-morning sun was just perfect, and the final stretch leading back to Jeju city was scintillating.
At around 2pm on Sunday afternoon, we were back at the port in Jeju City (along with all the other riders), and ready to get back to mainland.
One thing that blew me away about the ferry was the full service restaurant, and watching the sun set from the deck with a beer in hand was the perfect way to end a trip which had been in the works for some time. Out of the three major bike trails I've completed,