The very best thing about living on Jeju Island is having people come to visit. There is something about showing off what a wonderful place you live in that makes you appreciate it all the more. And sometimes the best days are the ones that aren’t really planned.
My friend Cat flew in from Seoul last weekend, and she had a list of things she wanted to experience on her first visit to Jeju. Most importantly she wanted to meet Jeju’s haenyeo diving women so we stopped at Gwideok Beach, where I knew there were at least some haenyeo statues for her to photo-graph. As luck would have it, we arrived to find the bay full of students from the haenyeo hakyeo (school). I knew of the school as we have published stories on it, but in my mind I imagined a class size of only about six. The reality looked more like 30 students, mostly young and including a few Westerners, and it was encouraging to see a new generation valuing a skill that is so much a part of Jeju. To truly make Cat’s day, a group of real haenyeo wandered past and she got to have her photo taken with them. We couldn’t have timed it better.
Next on her list was to hug a dolhareubang, and there is no shortage of those on the island. We mixed that mission with a tour of beaches, starting at Samyang for brunch then ticking off Iho, Gwakji, Gwideok, Hyeopjae and Geumneung, with a stop for ice cream and views at Kitchen in Aewol. Our busy day ended at Hamdeok, which is home to my favorite dolhareubang.
Cat didn’t get to Loveland this time around, or to visit the Daum dolhareubang (complete with laptop) but she did get sun, sand, sea and fabulous photos. And she has something to look forward to when she visits again.
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