A day trip to Jebudo Island, South Korea

A day trip to Jebudo Island, South Korea

by Kelly Garcia
Korea Ye! (koreaye.com)

We needed to get out of Seoul.  Make that, I needed to get out of Seoul. 

One thing I’ve come to realize on this tour is how much nature means to me.  Whenever we go somewhere and I’m in the quiet, surrounded by trees, hearing the sounds of a stream or smelling salty ocean air, I feel like I’m myself again.  I guess I’m realizing that I just might be a country girl at heart.  Who woulda thunk? So I Googled some day trips out of Seoul and happened upon a description of Jebudo Island (or Jaebu-do) and tides and mud flats and digging for shells and clams.  And that it’s only 90 minutes away and I was sold. We threw together some towels and sand toys and off we went. An hour later we were still in Seoul.  Or at least it appeared that way to me.  Will this city EVER end?  Seriously, I’ve never seen so many skyscrapers anywhere in my life. But eventually, skyscrapers gave way to green houses, and grape vines and interesting looking restaurants.  A sign for an insect museum and one for some kind of dinosaur egg place.  Things were looking promising. It took us about and hour and a half to get there. We made the turn to go over the bridge to the island.  Only it wasn’t a bridge.  It was a road that cut across a vast mud flat.  The tide was out.

The mud was dotted with vegetation.  Like whiskers piercing the mud.  Cranes pecked at the ground hunting for food. It was a really cool sight, actually. (Korea has some of the largest tidal flats in the world.  The tidal changes in this area have been compared to “the parting of the sea”.) When you get on the island, you can go right or left.  We chose right, passing many, many, many a seafood restaurant with many, many, many a white gloved employee trying to lure us to their establishment.  Instead, we chose to park and check out the pier.  And because my son was hungry, and we couldn’t figure out the restaurant menus yet, we bought a bag of shrimp flavored chips.  Turns out it made excellent seagull food.

We walked along the pier, feeding the seagulls.  The kids were having a blast!  Then we noticed one gull tangled in fishing line. He was flailing and flapping all over the place with everyone on the pier watching. My husband stepped into action, reeled that gull in and broke it from the line.  We waited for an irate fisherman to get into his business, but everyone kept right on doing what they were doing.  I thought my husband was a hero.  PETA would be proud.

Complaints about hunger were getting louder, so we hopped in the van and continued around the island.  While the other side was just mud flats and pier, this side had beach on it.  Hooray!  My kids won’t kill me!  We stopped at a random beachfront restaurant that had tables outside.  Nothing was in English, but the waiter/owner figured out something for us. Seeing that all the other customers had the same we had, I got the feeling they pretty much offer one thing at these restaurants–clams.  Actually, it was a bucket of clams.

Clams, and oysters, and shrimp and squid all barbecuing right there in front of you.  We were also given a metal tray for depositing the shells, a pair of gloves and some tongs.  The owner placed a bunch of shells on the grill.  After a minute the shells would pop open (my kids LOVED that!), then the man showed us how you pour the juice into the kimchi in the center of the grill, rip off one of the shells with gloved hand and let it cook a little more.  He was very kind. And the meal was SO good.  I am not a seafood lover and I loved it.  One of the best meals I’ve had in Korea for sure.  I’d go back just to eat that stuff!

After fillin’ up on mollusks, we hit the beach.  It wasn’t the cleanest beach I’ve ever been to (in fact I daydreamed about starting some kind of beach cleanup day while sitting there), but it was still really fun.  There were like a gazillion shells everywhere.  People were having a blast jumping up and down in the little waves.  My kids were loving playing in the sand and simply being at the beach.  And I was just happy to be sitting on a blanket looking at ocean.  And also, reveling in the afterglow of a satisfying  meal.

When we had enough beach fun, we rinsed off and continued our drive around the island.  Turns out just a few feet down there was a little beach strip!  There was a beachfront carnival, donkey rides, ATV riding, etc. The beach was a little bigger there and you could rent umbrellas and such. There were even little camp sites.  Cool! But we still had to make it back to Seoul that afternoon so we pressed on, continuing our loop around the island….until we came to a lineup of cars.  Lots of cars.  It turns out we couldn’t LEAVE because the incoming tide COMPLETELY COVERED the one road exiting the island.  Talk about a tourist trap, am I right? So what to do in this situation?  Well, if  you are my children, cotton candy is the answer.  We filled up on cotton candy and other street food and presto!  The water cleared and we were able to drive away.

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