With camera in hand, Ben visits Jejudo, known as the island of Gods!
Jeju-do, also known as Island of the Gods, is off the tip of South Korea. Don't be confused by an abundance of Jejus. Jeju-do is the province, Jeju-do is the island and Jeju-si (si meaning city) is the island's capital.
There are 3300 Korean islands, and Jeju-do is the largest and most popular. Its volcanic rock, frequent rains and temperate climate make it very similar to the Hawaiian Islands, both physically and as a place for honeymooners. Like Hawaii it offers hiking, spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, majestic waterfalls, horseriding or just relaxing on sandy beaches.
Tourism is one of the main industries, but despite its popularity there is still much to like about the granite island. It boasts so much natural beauty it is a designated and protected cultural treasure.
In the centre of the island is the 2000 metre extinct volcano of Hallasan, South Korea's highest volcano. It towers over fertile fields, forests, quaint villages and hotels on white sandy beaches. The snow-capped peak of the extinct volcano pokes through the clouds and is visible from almost everywhere on the island.
Jeju-do has rare lave-tube caves. These are formed when overflows of lava from eruptions quickly solidifies and become plastered to the channel walls, creating natural levees. Hyeopjaegul, on the north-western side of the island, was discovered in 1981 and is unique in that it has stalagmites and stalactites, usually found only in limestone caves.
The island grows fruit, mushrooms, cactus for ornamental use and tea making, barley and vegetables. Enormous grazing pastures support horses and cattle and tens of thousand of bats leave their caves at dusk and blacken the skies.
Despite being just 85 kms from the Korean mainland, Jeju-do had virtually no visitors for centuries. This resulted in their own history, traditions, dress, architecture and dialect evolving.
One very obvious sign of this are harubang (grandfather stones) carved from lava rock. Anthropologists are still debating their purpose but all agree that there are similarities between the mysterious statues of Easter Island and Okinawa. Whatever their purpose and origin, the harubang is synonymous with Jeju-do and is evident everywhere in one form or another.
The stretch of coastline known as Jusangjolli has spectacular hexagonal-shaped rock columns which look as though they have been cut out with a biscuit cutter. They are the result of lava quickly cooling and contracting.
Halfway between Seong-eup and Jeju-si is the Sangumburi volcanic crater. It is 350m in diameter and 100m deep and is one of 360 parasitic cones or secondary volcanoes on Jeju-do.
At the extreme eastern tip of Jeju-do is Seongsan, a village nestled at the foot of Ilchulbong, the spectacular volcanic cone. It is one of the island's more beautiful sights.
Haenyeo, Korea's female divers, are found on a number of outlying islands, but the most numerous are in Jeju-do. They have amazing stamina and without any diving equipment they can hold their breaths underwater for two minutes and reach a depth of 20 metres.
Keumneung Sikmulwon is a park containing dozens of stone sculptures. Many are traditional harubang but other Korean and Oriental symbols of religion, folklore and society are represented.
Mystery Road is an optical illusion which tourists just have to test out. The road looks as though it is leaning uphill, but a ball or spilled liquid goes in the opposite direction you would expect it to.
Jungmun Resort is Jeju-do's largest, made up of a number of five star hotels, condominiums, restaurants, shopping and sightseeing attractions. It has Mt Halla as a backdrop and ocean waves lapping at the front.