Photoessay: Udo, Jeju’s Cow Island

If I were to describe Jeju Island in colors, I’d choose green, orange and black. If I were to describe Udo, a small island off of the big island, I’d say it was black, white and blue. Grey has always been one of my favorite colors, so it’s not hard to imagine that Udo stole my heart from the beginning and never let it go. Renting a motorbike and scootering around the perimeter made it that much better.

Udo means cow island and is named that because the island is apparently shaped like a cow lying down.

udo island map
Yeah, I don’t see it either. Anyways, let’s just move on to the pictures that make sense.

ferry boat udo korea
This is a photoessay about an island so it’s only appropriate that I begin with a photograph of the ferry that took me there.
jeju udo cow island
Black rocks and bright white sand made quite the pretty picture. It looked like this all over the island.
rhodolith korea jeju udo islet beach
This beach, named Seobin Baeksa, is the only beach in Korea filled with rhodolith, which are like coral but unattached to things. You could call them the tumbleweeds of the ocean.
bike black rocks jeju udo
What’s a rural islet without a rusting kiddy bike?
blue ocean black rock udo island islet
Rolling, clear blue waves are one thing I may never see enough of.
hermit crab wild nature rock ocean udo korea
I found a family of hermit crabs, and I temporarily kidnapped this little guy so I could take a picture of him. Which I messed up/overexposed, and have somewhat salvaged enough to show you. Adorable.
coast table beach udo jeju korea
And of course I stopped for coffee, enjoyed at one of these coast side tables.
coffee shop book writing abreathofforeignair
The coffee shop gave you little books to write it while you were waiting for your order, so I took that opportunity to promote myself. No shame.
cat sleeping photograph jeju udo island korea
Aww, a cat sleeping on top of someone’s laptop. Why isn’t that surprising?
udo island korea field black rocks green
Considering that Udo is formed by a bunch of old volcanic rocks, it’s understandable that the attempts at farming aren’t very intensive.
boat water circle island jeju udo korea
Things to do next time I go to Udo: get dizzy and nearly vomit on a speed boat.
sunlight water cliff udo jeju korea island islet
Dramatic views included.
cat jeju udo island islet korea beach water rocks
I spy with my little eye…
udo islet jeju korea rock tower buddhism
Stack a rock and make a wish; these pillars are all over Korea, especially in Buddhist temples, but they suddenly look like precarious feats of gravity when done with porous, volcanic rocks.

white black lighthouse udo island jeju korea beach

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Have you ever been to Cow Island? Did you spy the hiding kitty?

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Photoessay: Korea’s Jeju Island

I love a lot of things, like coffee, new shoes, blankets and hot cocoa, comfortable rides on public transportation; but there’s not much I love more than the sound, sight and smell of water meeting land. That said, it’s no surprise that I adored Jeju Island.

Even though it was November/December, Jeju has just enough of a warm climate to sustain fruit and farming for most of the year. Coming from the bland dead of winter, the green fields and mandarin orange trees were a sight for sore eyes. The island also was borne of a volcano, so the majority of rocks are porous and black and fascinating. Some of the beaches are a normal white and since it’s the end of fall, some areas of the island also sport the browns and yellows of retiring plants.

So when the blues of the ocean, the green and orange and the black and the occasional white or brown or yellow come together, it’s like walking into Toys-R-Us for my eyeballs. I did my very best to capture some of the beauty on camera, but there was nothing like seeing it in person. Here are my best shots.

mandarin orange jeju black rock korea
The orchards and plots of land are traditionally surrounded by low walls, built by these black volcanic stones. Gorgeous.
green field jeju korea
More of those low walls, partitioning off small seas of green.
goat olle trail jeju korea
The local wildlife showed up during one of my walks. While they blend into the black rocks pretty well, they stand starkly in contrast here among the browns.
sunset jeju island korea
Ah, sunset. Nothing better.
boat grass water jeju island korea
Is it possible to be in love with your own picture?
shoreline jeju island blue black korea
The blue water and black rocks were incredibly vivid and beautiful.
jeju statue korea
These little guys popped up all over the island in different sizes, shapes and materials. (Oh, and the flowers too!)
dog hump beach jeju island korea
Sometimes you try to take pictures of dogs at the beach and they quickly get into a weird humping position right when you click the shutter. And then sometimes you put it on your blog, anyways.
star anise to be a whale jeju korea
The star anise that went into the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life.
rock shoreline cliff jeju island olle korea
Why are island rocks SO cool? Please explain this to me.
black rock shoreline jeju island water blue korea
THESE COLORS I can’t get enough. They will haunt my dreams.
tree twisted waterfall jeju korea
(This is the waterfall where I saw nearby female divers.)
restaurant ajumma korea jeju
Sitting down to eat “boring” abalone rice porridge.
oranges path jeju korea
One of the many little winding paths that traverse Jeju’s mainland.
shoes sit cafe abstract jeju korea
Just enjoying the view and my coffee (and snapping pictures of my shoes) at To Be a Whale Cafe.
jeju island orange black rock beach water windmill
The picture that epitomizes what Jeju Island is famous for: wind, water, beach, black rocks and a delicious little mandarin orange.

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Which picture is your favorite? Have you ever been to an island similar to Jeju?

You can also find me on the ABOFA Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. There’s also an email list, if you’d like to subscribe.

Rural Korea: 6 Things to Do, See and Experience

A shot from my backyard in rural Korea.
A shot from my backyard in rural Korea.

It’s true: not many Westerners think of vacationing in Korea at all. And it’s even more true that those who do come to Korea spend the majority of their time in Seoul. As for short excursions out of the city, famous temples and mountain hiking tend to be the way they go. Rural Korea? Why would anyone go there?

I want to change that.

Continue reading Rural Korea: 6 Things to Do, See and Experience