We were already sore from so much walking yesterday, but we managed to kick it up a notch today and ended with spending a perfect family day on Jeju Island. Thankfully, we all got a little more sleep. I swapped beds with Gabriel and took the twin bed with the baby. Sounds like a tight fit, but I pushed it up against the wall and sandwiched Molasses in so I wasn’t worried about her falling all night. It was an excellent solution!
Day 22 South Korea Family Travel Journal
Family Beach Day on Jeju Island
Our plans for today were to check out a family water park! At Hotel Fine we found some brochures for Ocean Park off the eastern coast of Jeju Island, and it looked amazing! We actually tried to go to a theme park by the same name in Hong Kong when Eclair was a baby, but we couldn’t figure out the bus system to get there. Hong Kong’s Ocean Park is more of a rollercoaster type theme park by the ocean whereas Korea’s is definitely built around the ocean. Ocean Park reminded us a lot of Xel-Ha, with the water being a muse for the activities offered at the park. Unfortunately, it also seemed geared towards an older crowd; jet skis, blob jump, boating, rafting, scuba diving, etc. The Korean Ocean Park website offers children’s prices, but we didn’t know what activities the kids would be allowed to participate in and our experience lent us to believe our kids would most likely just be disappointed with the limitations imposed.
Instead, we found a water park just up the road from us at the World Cup Stadium. In fact, our taxi driver there played soccer in the World Cup against America back in 1994 and won! Thank you Google Translate Conversation. It’s located in the basement of the stadium adjacent to a Korean Jjimjilbang.
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33 Woldeukeom-ro, Daeryun-dong
Hours: Monday thru Friday 10am – 6pm | Closed Saturday & Sunday
Price: All Ages ₩24,000 | ₩3,000 to add jjimjilbang
When we arrived at Water World we found the entrance leading straight into the mouth of a shark! We were excited to see what we would find inside, but we had no idea what to expect.
If you are traveling to Korea with kids and plan on doing any amount of swimming you should be prepared for a few things. Koreans wear wet suits to go swimming, including a hair cap. While it appears that western style one piece swimsuits are acceptable, wearing your hair loose is not. Also, babies do not go swimming and you cannot find swim diapers in Korea.
We were not prepared for this, and did not have swim caps. We knew we were already out of place, but when we entered the water park there were masses of children shoulder to shoulder, and all had swim caps. There are signs everywhere indicating this requirement. So we left explaining we didn’t have the required swim caps for swimming in Korea and requested a refund.
Water World in Jeju, Korea begins indoors. After passing through the jjimjilbang, and up a flight of stairs the water park opens to a few small pools. One side was a pool about three feet deep the other side had a playground structure with a slide. Behind that was a lazy river that wound around the arena. There appeared to be an outdoor section though we didn’t investigate as soon as we saw the requirements.
There were so many children at Water World there was no room for swimming. They were shoulder to shoulder. They all wore wet suits that came to the wrist and the knee. They all wore swim caps, goggles and a life vest. They were all screaming at the top of their lungs, except when they stopped to gawk at us. No adults were in the swimming areas at all.
Chaise lounges lined the perimeter of the indoor areas but they all had a plastic placard on them that I presume read do not sit here. I’m not sure exactly what was going on, but a few minutes after we left all the children did too. We think they were part of a school group and were tempted to go back in, except for the fact that we didn’t have swim caps.
We didn’t get any clarification on whether or not this was actually a place for swimming, or if parents can swim with their children. We do know that we need to figure out what’s expected before attempting this type of activity again here in Korea though.
The kids were bummed, and so were we. We knew we needed to find some sort of water activity that the entire family could enjoy. We hadn’t yet found a swimming beach whilst traversing Jeju Island but we knew there had to be one.
But first, Molasses had a stinky diaper, literally and someone four years old had taken the wipes out of the diaper bag to put in her backpack and then forgot her backpack so we had to find a public restroom to macgyver some wet paper towels. We found a Dog & Cat Cafe, and a city building and let’s just say that people seem nicer in Incheon.
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Jungmun Saekdal Beach
Hours: Sunday thru Saturday 10am-7pm | Swimming is Prohibited at Night
Turns out there are quite a few beaches on Jeju, which would make sense considering this is an island. Our stay in Seogwipo was more on the harbor side of the ocean, whereas the Jungmun part of Seogwipo is the more beachy side. Jungmun Saekdal Beach was the closest to our location and just what we wanted. Jungmun Saekdal Beach was paradise and made for a perfect family day on Jeju Island.
I’m sure our family visited the most touristy beach, but you wouldn’t have known it. It was a slow week day and the majority of people here were surfing in the minimal waves. Sounds like beaches are much like the swimming pools in Korea, and not extremely popular outside of July and August.
There was a large cliff that rose out of the water on the west side of the beach, and a restaurant and marketplace was built on the outcropping. We found The Cliff that served a plethora of American food and a DJ to provide beats. We ordered pizza, hamburgers and fish and chips and weren’t hungry for 5 minutes.
We found free use of a cushioned square lounge that was shaded by an umbrella and enjoyed the warm afternoon while strangers babysat Molasses.
The water was freezing and the sand granules were huge! But, it was a beach afterall and we played for about two hours. The water is soft and smooth and tame; the sand was soft and warm; we all got buried and escaped dramatically; Molasses covered her legs and ate tons of sand, and we all cried when it was time to leave. Jungmun Saekdal Beach is a great family beach with bathrooms, hoses to wash off the sand, and sometimes showers.
Even if the sand won’t come off, which it won’t. It is like glue. After sunbathing, swimming, hiking, taking a taxi, eating dinner and showering, I still have sand stuck to me. Worth it, for the perfect family day on Jeju Island!
We also purchased some famous Jeju Island chocolates and were gifted a peanut brittle lollipop for the kids. Adults give our children candy constantly here. Oh, a little kid is sitting on the subway with their Mom and Dad? They must need candy. Oh, a little kid is quietly looking at what I’m selling? They must need candy. Oh, a kid has blonde hair? They must need candy, or juice, or lollipops.
Thus far our day had been pretty tame, so we were up for a little more hiking and heard that there were a few more waterfalls nearby the Jungmun Saekdal Beach.
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Hours: Sunday thru Saturday 10am-6pm
Price: Children 6-12 ₩1,500 | Adults ₩2,500 | Children under 6 and Adults over 65 Free
The Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls are located across a ravine with a visible red bridge covered in seven white nymphs. Even though Eclair refused to walk, and Molasses was asleep we decided to check them out. The views from the beach were enough to entice anyone and the forest called my Oregonian spirit to come breathe in the pure air and bathe in the blanket of green leaves.
274 stairs later by Widmore’s count, and 266 by Pie’s, we finished visiting the 3rd waterfall. And as we all know, what goes down must come up. We only started counting on the way back up from the last waterfall, and we were hammered by the time we were finally done. 274 stairs doubled, and multiplied by three equals a minimum of 1500 stairs.
It was well worth it. The waterfalls were each beautiful and majestic and it was an exquisite way to end our afternoon spending the perfect family day on Jeju Island in nature.
After our epic real life stairmaster routine, we finally ate at a black pork restaurant and tried our hand at this Korean bbq thing. I always thought Korean bbq was like American bbq, but Korean. But actually, Korean bbq is where the restaurant prepares the meat and then you cook it at your table. I don’t get the allure of doing all the work and paying someone else, but that’s exactly what Korean bbq is.
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복재시 연탄 구이
Black Pork Restaurant
Chilsimni Food Street
Gabriel found this place last night while searching for something other than seafood, distinguished from the dozens of other black pork restaurants because the cook was an English lad. That cook was not there tonight, but we did our best to figure it out.
Mostly, in part by watching the table next to us who arrived a few minutes after we did. We sat there patiently waiting so we could mimic their behavior while Gabriel was trying to look up how to do it on the internet, and I was trying to feed the baby. Finally, they began eating and the woman picked up a long green pepper from the bowl of leaves and eat it like an apple. So we thought, “Oh they are like bell peppers, yummy! We’re hungry and this isn’t pickled, hooray!”
Gabe took a bite and passed it over to me. It tasted a bit more bitter than a traditional bell pepper and I didn’t care for a second bite. Gabriel, however, decided to try it again. The second bite was more seedy and centered.
I’ve never seen Gabriel spit out food, and he spat out that bite immediately as his cheeks, nose and eyes started welling up. The hot and spicy hot lava fried chicken from Sinpo International Market was tame compared to this. I thought he was going to black out. He was totally checked out, and ignored everything me or the kids tried to say to him. His eyes were glazed over, he was sweating and he was completely shut off. We all kept asking if he was okay and he just kept staring into the distance with his shoulders up to his ears and his hands clenched on his knees.
I tried to get the attention of the chef to tell her that we needed more water, or soda. She didn’t understand so I pointed at the soda looking bottle on the table next to us. We she brought that to us, it turned out to be traditional Korean wine, and of course we don’t drink, so that did us no help at all. I felt helpless, and concerned; I’ve seen Gabriel eat everything and never act in this manner.
Finally his face started to turn flesh colored again, and he came back earth side. When we asked him if he was okay, he told us he just wanted us all to shut-up because he was in so much pain. We stopped after dinner for an Orange Fanta, and Gabe’s mouth still must have been burning because he drank half of it in one gulp. It was so bad, for the past few hours Gabriel has been talking about how awful it must be to do those ghost pepper challenges.
The last thing we did on our perfect family day on Jeju Island was get some ice cream and pick up a souvenir of our time on Jeju Island. A few trips ago we started collecting souvenirs outside of the obligatory magnet or keychain. After many of our magnets started to break, we instead started buying keychains and brought them home to string together. But we wanted something more to signify the culture we experienced and the adventures we had together as a family that brought us closer together. In Spain, we got Lladro; in Norway, a troll; in the Riviera Maya, a Mayan calendar, and here in Jeju we got a black pig lest we never forget Gabriel’s taste of hell.
Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped one more time to check the kids speed on the radar. Pie got up to 21kph, Widmore 18 and Eclair 16 and we played at the playground again before bed to end our perfect family day on Jeju Island.