Jeju Island is known amongst the locals to be plentiful in three things: rocks, wind, and ladies. Rocks of course refers to the volcanic rocks that abound and make up the island, wind being that which wears at the islands coasts, and ladies of course being the Haenyeo, or Lady Divers of the island. Aside from being a spectacular cultural venture, Jeju also offers seemingly never ending series of photogenic landscapes and natural history sites.
We flew into Jeju International Airport in the early afternoon and made our way straight out to the coast for a chance to catch the final rays of the sun over the ocean. The location was chosen simply by its name, Dragon Head Rock. With a name like that, who could refuse? Various stories surround the creation of this rock, including those that suggest it was once a real dragon! Although the sunset didn’t offer up a lot, some moody black and white long exposures were definitely in order!
We started our 3 day moped tour of the island in Jeju city and headed east along the coast, soaking up the sun and letting the wind ruffle our clothes before dropping in to the Manjanggul Lava Caves for a little look. Although only 1 of approximately 7 kilometres of the tube is open to the public, it is certainly enough to get a glimpse of the power that created this island. The walls are adorned with the fascinating lines and structures created by the swiftly drying lava.
Next it was on through the fading twilight to the “Sunrise Peak” for an early night and an early rise. Getting up at 4am after a day long ride along the coast may not be easy, but it is certainly rewarding. Not following the tourist crowds an getting ourselves down onto the shoreline with Jeju’s ocean maidens led to a much better view of the sunrise over this small bay.
After a quick nap we set out along the coast again. The overcast day led to photographing a lot of daytime long exposures, thank you weatherman! With the ND400 in toe, I was able to pull off 30 second daytime exposures at our next location, Jeongbang Falls. This was great as I was not only able to smooth the water and make the falls look ethereal, but I was able to all but eliminate the occasional tourist in my shots.
One of my favourite things about Korea has always been the mix of old and new. Riding or driving around Jeju island will give you an amazing insight into the way things are and were done. While some buy their groceries at mega-stores in the cities, others dry their fish on fences by the sea.
Korea is a land of contrasts. A place where seemingly never-ending metropolis cities give way to natural beauty, young women follow every trend and fad on the television while older women do it the way they always have done, western hamburger chains are filled with the same children who eat pickled cabbage with every meal, and electronics mega-corporations fade out of memory as the sun sets over volcanic peaks.
Join Flash Light Expeditions on Jeju Island next spring to experience all this and more as you trek around the island and frame the pictures of a lifetime.