Getting Around Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum (Tour Course 4)

Travelling in Jeju can be tricky if you haven’t figured out the right transportation. Unlike Seoul (or other big cities) which has a dense subway network and timely buses; Jeju’s more laid-back and endorses ‘slow-travel’ (천천히). Time can literally stand still when you’re waiting at a bus-stop — in the middle of nowhere. Most travellers prefer car rentals or taxis to explore the island. Local buses connect different parts of the island, but the erratic frequency can be a test of your patience. Jeju tourism’s Golden Bus (City Tour Bus) is a viable option to explore the sights of Jeju-si. Although, it’s best to have your route planned before you set out and the goldenbus guidebook can be a good starting point. 

We reached Jeju early in the morning and I had a couple of hours before check-in. We left our bags at the front desk and Basil dropped me at Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum. Cherry Blossoms or beotkkot (벚꽃) start blooming a week earlier in Jeju. Most of the trees were pregnant with buds in the last week of March. Timing is everything in cherry blossom viewing. I was early by a few days and I managed to catch only a couple of fully bloomed trees. It was the first day of my solo day trip and I decided to follow Route 4 from the Jeju City Tour Guidebook (pic above). I wasn’t sure how much I would cover, but I decided to take it easy and enjoy the experience instead. 

Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum (제주도민속자연사박물관)

The entrance was practically deserted when I reached the ticket counter. I didn’t have to pay an entrance fee (there’s free entry on certain days of the month) and I started with the exhibits outside the main gate. Jeju is an island that was formed by intense volcanic activity and almost every tourist site will have a collection from its turbulent geological past. I was particularly amazed by the exhibit of the ‘lava tree mold’.

First Views of Cherry Blossoms 

A large tour group was buzzing inside. A cherry blossom tree was the main attraction and had started a photo frenzy. I tried to avoid the group and found another tranquil location. The dry streambed had cherry blossoms spilling all over it. I’ve never seen a sight like this before and I wished the flowers were in full bloom.

Stonework & Rock Exhibition

I didn’t spend much time at the outdoor exhibition. I wanted to avoid the noise and I decided to come back on my way out.

Main Exhibition Hall

The main exhibition area was deserted. Most tourists had skipped this bit and preferred blossom viewing instead. The staff at the front desk were very helpful. I tried practicing my Korean and it helped me win smiles. Sadly, there weren’t any English brochures or  audioguides.

Natural History Hall

A short audio-visual presentation gives an introduction to the local folklore of Jeju. According to local legend: the founding fathers (demigods) of the island emerged from the three holes at Samseonghyeol. I had either forgotten about this or hadn’t read about it on my earlier trip in 2016. Another audio-visual presentation gives a geological introduction to the formation of Jeju. The rest of the hall has exhibits of volcanic rocks.

I’ve seen a wide variety of birds in Jeju (and the mainland), but have never been good with names. Birding enthusiasts will find this hall particularly interesting.

Folklore Exhibition Hall

The Folklore Exhibition Hall has exhibits of ancient ceremonial practices, structures of traditional Korean houses, and life-size replicas of ancient boats. I skipped the exhibition on the first floor and explored the outdoor exhibition.

Outdoor Folk Village

Exhibits of thatched houses and stone sculptures dominated the outdoor exhibition area. An entrance leads to the underground Marine Exhibition Hall. I skipped it and walked back to the Stonework & Rock Exhibition (outdoor). It was empty this time and I could get some shots of the main fountain.

Connecting Bridge

I exited the museum gate and entered the lawns of Shinsan Park. I explored a bit and found a bridge with a stunning view of cherry blossoms. I couldn’t read the name of the bridge and walked around. 

Exercise equipment was strategically located at the periphery of the stream. It was such a wonderful place for locals to come and get their daily dose of exercise under the shade of cherry blossoms.

Daegaksa (대 각 사)

I was tempted to explore Shinsan Park, but I also had to visit Samseonghyeol. I wandered around and spotted Daegaksa Temple. The temple doors were closed in the morning.

Samseonghyeol (제주 삼성혈)

It’s hard to miss the colourful main gate of Samseonghyeol. During my visit, repairs were underway, and the ticket booth was shifted inside. The girl at the counter spoke English and helped me with the directions to Jeonnong-ro Cherry Blossom Street (my next stop).

The Woods

Jeju is quite popular for field trips for Korean school kids. The shrine were buzzing with excited high school kids. I walked away from the noisy banter and explored the woods. I couldn’t escape fast enough and some curious kids asked me where I had come from. Unlike Seoul, in Jeju, locals (or visiting Korean tourists) don’t shy from small talk.

Samseongmun

This memorial altar was constructed in 1698 by King Sukjong. The main shrine inside (Samseongjeon) has the three ancestral tablets of the founding brothers of the Tamna.

Sungbodong & Jeonsacheong

I had hoped the students would leave before I reached these sites. But the cherry blossom tree had captured their fantasy. Most of the kids were clicking selfies and enjoying the shade.

Jeonsacheong was built for religious ceremonies by King Sunjo. Sungbodang (next to Jeonsacheong) was a dormitory built for housing visiting scholars.

Samseonghyeol (The Three Holes)

According to local legend, 3 demigods emerged from these 3 holes and gave birth to the Tamna Dynasty. Samseonghyeol loosely translates as 3 clans’ holes.

Casting Shadows

Jeonnong-ro Cherry Blossom Street (전농로)

Jeju KAL Hotel is the landmark to Jeonnong-ro. It’s a 10 minute straight walk from Samseonghyeol. I checked boards at the main crossing and followed the directions to get to the cherry blossom street.

I was early and the trees hadn’t blossomed yet. The road still looked quite spectacular and I could imagine how beautiful it would look in full bloom on the weekend. Jeonnong-ro Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the main spring festivals in Jeju.

Samdaeguksu Hall

There are quite a few eating options along the main street. I walked back to Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum and entered the restaurant on the opposite side of the road. It’s one of the restaurants recommended by the local tourism site. I didn’t feel like eating meat and opted for myeulchi guksu (멸치국). It’s a noodle soup in anchovy broth. The local ajummas were happy that I could speak basic Korean and pampered me. They were shocked when I politely refused kimchi. They gave me a bowl of water to wash the spice from the kimchi and eat it with my soup. I could get used to this kind of hospitality.

Shinsan Park (신산공원)

I had missed the Jeju Tour Bus and had to wait for an hour. So I popped into Shinsan Park to while away time. Shinsan Park was inaugurated to commemorate the arrival of the Olympic Torch in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Trails

There are multiple trails within the park. On a lazy afternoon, most locals were either enjoying the shade or walking along the winding paths.

Cherry Blossom Route

Soon enough, I came across some cherry blossoms. Bees buzzed around the flowers and it was quite a sight.

Landmarks & Sites

I was sleep deprived and found a bench at the outdoor gym. There are other buildings and sculptures in the park. I decided to skip them and take in the moment instead. The Natural History Museum shares its premises with this park.

Cherry Blossom Love

I didn’t want to miss the tour bus again (I wasn’t sure about the local bus) and after admiring the cherry blossoms, I walked back to the bus stop. I purchased a single entry ticket to the next stop and decided to do a day tour on the next day.

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Walkers. Wanderers. Travellers. Now in Seoul.

18 replies on “Playing Hide-&-Seek with Cherry Blossoms in Samseonghyeol

    1. You’re not mistaken! 🙂 But, those blossoms were in Seoul. These are in Jeju — an island of the coast of Korea. I’m just greedy and want to see blossoms in different locales. 🙂 We completed 3 years in Korea and this is our fourth cherry blossom season. Time flies!

  1. It sounds like you had a good day in Jeju by yourself. Lol at everyone wanting to see the main cherry blossom tree, and it must have been quite a lot of people and noise for you to walk the other way D: You got a very nice shot of one of the trees, and also you saw a few more later on 🙂 So interesting to know Samseongjeon and the surrounding parks and exhibits are visited by school kids, and it sounds like they are hang-out spots lol. That was so nice of the wait staff at the restaurat to help you wash down kimchi. I don’t eat spicy and would find it hard to refuse kimchi since it is eaten pretty much every meal over there 😀

    1. I don’t like accompanying Basil on work trips, but he forced me on this one. lol. Travel is difficult in Jeju. So I had planned the day before our arrival. This place looked fantastic a few days later. But I was happy with what I saw.
      It’s so hard to say no to kimchi in Korea. lol. I didn’t want to waste it because my stomach can’t handle the spice. The ajummas/emos (aunties) are so sweet here and my broken Korean is helping. 🙂

    1. How could I forget your Jeju trip? lol. I was stalking you for a year and your Hallasan post was incredible! We travelled to Ulsan on the Easter weekend. There are so many fascinating places here and the local tourism isn’t promoting them properly. 😦 My brother (et fly) loved Korea!
      We’re back to gloomy spring rains.
      Come back to Korea! Miss ya! xoxo

  2. They are the most magical sight when seen in density, aren’t they? Although the very early blossom here was beautiful I still miss the soft pink crescendo of them in the UK. 🙂 🙂

  3. What gorgeous blossoms!! Oh how glorious. And I do love that park you popped into, due to it’s informality We are heading to Chicago soon to visit family and certainly hoping to experience some of the joys of spring, especially as in Sri Lanka it is always just one eternal summer. Either wet or dry, but always tropical and hot. No blossoms.

    Peta

    1. My next few posts may cause cherry blossom fatigue. 🙂 I don’t think I could ever get bored though. Most local parks are pretty casual and locals don’t care about foreigners. 🙂 I like it that way.
      I was thought about you after reading the news of the shocking attacks in Sri Lanka. 😦
      Have a good trip to Chicago! Thanks for stopping by, Peta. xo

  4. Jeju looks so pretty and with quite a history but it sounds like it was a bit of a challenge escaping the hoardes of people wanting to photograph the blossoms. I guess it’s almost inevitable in cherry blossom season. But oh, so beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us Cheryl xx 🌸🌸

    1. It is difficult to get a good shot. But it’s worth it. I love cherry blossoms. It’s our anniversary marker. We completed 3 years in Seoul. And what a what to get over a long winter. Your such a kind soul! Your words brighten my day. xoxo

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