The ferry arrived at the Jeju City port just after dark and we rode out the gaping mouth to a full moon and the smell of the ocean. Seoul Joe had connected us with two Korean women living on Jeju, so that was our first stop. Tipi and Chae welcomed us like family, showed us our room and prepared a delicious home made dinner. They humbly told us how they rode 125cc scooters from Vladivostok (eastern Russia) all the way to England. It took them exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day.
We spent our first day enjoying the twisty island roads lined with volcanic rock walls. We visited a giant crater and walked in awe through the Manjanggul Lava Tubes. Jeju boasts the largest lava tube system in the world stretching over 13km underground. Lava running horizontally below the surface created the tunnels, which are up to 30 meters from floor to ceiling in places. Our evening was spent drinking Makkoli, a local fermented rice wine and eating barbecue pork (삼겹살) with Tipe, Chae and two Korean guys who run a kite boarding business. An acoustic guitar was brought out and I played a few tunes. The kite boarding instructor had a great voice and sang Korean songs.
The next day we rode to Seogwipo City, which is on the southern coast of Jeju Island and met up with Ralph who owns a scuba diving shop there. We did two shore dives but didn’t see anything too exciting. As we hopped on the bikes to leave the dive shop I jumped on the motorcycle and pulled in the clutch cable only to hear a snap as the cable broke. We joked that this was strike three for the bike. First was the leaking oil, second the chain and sprockets and now the clutch cable. On the positive side, the cable couldn’t have broke in a better place. Ralph drove me to a bike shop where I was able to buy a new clutch cable for $10 and it was an easy replacement. Back in business we hit the road and checked out a nice waterfall before heading back to Tipi and Chea’s.
We rose bright and early on Saturday morning and rode the bikes an hour inland to the base of Mt. Hallasan. At 1,950 meters (6,400 ft) Halasan is South Korea’s highest mountain. It was a beautiful and challenging hike up the densely wooded dormant volcano. Our route was the steeper of the two paths leading to the summit and at times both Ryan and I were drenched in sweat as we climbed the steep slope. It took us four hours to reach the summit and three hours to descend.
2 friends, 4 weeks, 1 epic motorcycle adventure across South Korea!