Around 100 people joined the walk in the Gujwa-eup countryside for the newly opened Songdang trail. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
Songdang Wishing Village Tour was held on July 4 as Jeju Tourism Organization seeks to promote tourism in Jeju’s harder-to-reach corners.
Walkers took two paths in the area which allowed them to appreciate the local countryside and rich cultural heritage. A free shuttle bus service also ferried participants to and from the site and English-speaking guides were on hand for international visitors.
The Jeju Weekly spoke with some international Jeju residents after the event to gauge their reactions.
Blayne Scott, Canada
Blayne Scott wants to see more tours in the future. Photo courtesy Blayne
"I enjoyed the event and the opportunity to see a side of Jeju island most foreign visitors miss. Our English speaking guide “Mr. D” was very helpful and friendly."
"I’d like to see more English-guided walks in the future because it shares aspects of Korean culture with visitors who would normally be unaware of the rich cultural history Jeju has to offer."
“For future improvements, I would suggest advertizing with local language centers, and perhaps sending a message to the local Jeju school board. Many foreign teachers, or students, would be interested in such a fun experience.”
Sachin Mahajan, US
The free shuttle was a major plus for Sachin Mahajan (left). Photo courtesy Sachin Mahajan
The shuttle bus
“I really appreciated the free shuttle service for this event... [W]e may not have participated without the shuttle service since it's not always easy to find certain locations we're unfamiliar with.”
“Our guide was fantastic. He was so knowledgeable and friendly. He shared not only the background of the shrine myths, but also his personal experiences. His family has resided in Seogwipo for over 600 years!”
“Yes, more guided tours, please and thank you! Anyone can take a walk and read some signs, but there is something more rewarding about doing it with a group of people while being guided by a local expert.”
Jia Min Tan, Singapore
▲ Jia Min Tan says organization should improve at future events. Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
In my personal opinion they did not take the initiative to gather the visitors who came for the English tour... At the shuttle bus pick up point I was overwhelmed by Koreans and had no idea where my group was... I think it would have helped if the people who organized the English tour had taken more steps to look out for and gather the people recruited for the tour.
Even though I can understand some Korean, it is still very difficult to understand culture and history. [Through these tours] we get to travel to lesser known places... and to delve deeper into Jeju culture.
I think it would be better if English could be included in the event (the introduction, speech, brochures and other materials) since foreign visitors were invited and it is not a Korean-only event. Being more mindful of your foreign guests and being more inclusive.
Catrina McBeath, US
Catrina McBeath (second from left) wants to see more insight into local culture at future events. Photo courtesy Catrina McBeath
“I think village tours... can be a valuable experience, especially for people who want to enjoy the quieter, natural side of Jeju."
Heritage and nature
“There are many beautiful and historical places on Jeju, but these two points don't always overlap. I think that's a shame because they are both very prominent features of the island itself.”
“I wish there was more emphasis placed on sharing insight into the culture and history of the area such as the tradition of wishes.”
Nadeem Khan, UK
Nadeem Khan was a big fan of the free edible root. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
“I enjoyed the free melon and the roots that the farmers gave to everyone the most. I thought the roots were quite interesting and I found it useful that they give clear instructions on how to use the root.”
“The English-speaking guides were very knowledgeable about the Songdang area. I was impressed by their level of English.”
“English-guided walks [are] a great way to find out about Jeju history. [I]t would be interesting to see what other surprises are in store on future walks.”
Areas to improve
“I personally suggest later starts... Maybe an afternoon tour would benefit the people that prefer a lie in on the weekends.”
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