In Port – Cheju City, South Korea
From the ship’s Navigator
Tonight we will sail on a northwesterly heading with an average speed of 21 knots toward Cheju City, South Korea. The total distance between Kagoshima and Cheju city is 297 nautical miles. We will embark the local pilot at 7:00 am. And expect to be alongside by 8:00 am. The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 68 degrees and a strong breeze blowing from the north with a force of 6.
Cheju City, South Korea
Located on the northern side of Cheju Island, it is the capitol of Cheju Province on Cheju Strait. In an agricultural area producing grain, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and cotton, Cheju is also a major fishing port. The city, a former penal colony, is the site of Cheju College, established in 1952. Since the establishment of the modern republic in 1948, South Korea struggled with the aftermath of Japanese occupation from 1910-1945, the Korean War and decades of authoritarian governments, undergoing five major constitutional changes, Even though the government attempted Western-style democracy from its founding, presidential elections suffered from rampant irregularities. Finally, in 1987 direct and fair presidential elections were held, prompted by popular demonstrations, and South Korea has been a multi-party democracy since that time.
The day was overcast as we sailed into the tiny port of Cheju City; however the harbor facilities seem to be well protected from the ravages of stormy seas. Overhead several Boeing 727 airliners made their approach and landed at the island airport. The harbor was also busy with arrivals and departures of several inter-island ferries. After a hearty breakfast, Barbara and I proceeded to the Queens Lounge to receive our tickets and bus assignments for our shore excursion named “Cheju Highlights at Hallim Weaver”. As we traveled through the coastal section of the city, there was not a lot to be seen through the fogged up windows of our tour bus. However as we progressed through the country side the windows cleared affording us views of small fields surrounded by basalt rocks that had at one time covered the land. Sort of reminded us of the fields we saw in Northern Ireland, with its rock walls and green fields. These fields were growing cabbage, leaks, and garlic, according to our tour guide; Kim Park. Kim shared that in his country a high percentage his countrymen have one of the following names: Kim, Lee, and Park. He also allowed as to the possibility of throwing a rock from a hillside and hitting at least one person with one of those three names.
An hour after leaving he ship, we arrived at Hallim Weaver Village. This complex of attractions consists of “8 Fantastic Themes” ; Palm Tree road, Ssangyong Caves, Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden, Folk Village, Bird Garden, Water Garden, Botanic Garden and a Stone Exhibit Hall. We were given only an hour and twenty minutes to see it all! I could have spent a whole day in just the Bonsai Garden; in fact that was where I spent most of my time. Since the island is sub-tropical, it is a popular destination for vacationing South Koreans from the mainland to the north. Today, was a national holiday (Alphabet Birthday), so there were a large number of teenagers enjoying a days outing. Our time was short, however, as we had to be back on board by 1 pm. As a cultural experience it left a lot to be desired and we were sorry we did not have a chance to interact more with our host country. This evening’s dinner menu did have some Korean themed dishes though. Barbara ordered the Kimche salad and Korean soup.
Tomorrow we have a restful day as we traverse the Yellow sea, then we visit our first of four Chinese ports; Dilian
Till next time,
Jack and Barbara