Spring has most definitely sprung on Geoje Island. At time of writing we are enduring a heavy April shower that has lasted most of the day but up until this morning we have enjoyed two weeks of warm, dry afternoons with the temperatures often hitting the mid-twenties when the sun shines and it has been doing so frequently.
The verdant hillsides that surround us now luxuriate in differing shades and textures of green as the conifers are joined by their deciduous relatives. Fine, pale pinks of cherry blossom have been replaced by vibrant reds and purples of azalea. Tulips and pansies planted here and there have bloomed to add further bright splashes of colour.
Yesterday and the previous Sunday we were able to borrow a car and go exploring the extremities of the island. The majority of terrain here is hills and valleys right up to the coast with few large areas of flat land. It makes for some entertaining, winding roads and some beautiful scenery.
The island is not especially large and a leisurely circumnavigation can be completed inside a day. Two shipyards and the road bridge connection to the mainland dominate most of the north side. Add the high-density buildings, population and traffic that accompany such industry and you have the urban hub of Geoje where rush-hour can be just as frantically static as anywhere else.
Head southwards and within moments the tower blocks disappear, the traffic thins and the countryside extends its welcome. There are several beaches to visit of both sand and pebble varieties, each set within its own attractive, tree-lined bay. Just off shore are numerous small, sheer-sided islands that are probably uninhabitable but make superb additions to the scenery. Parts of the south coast are designated national parks, hopefully to preserve their natural beauty.
One of the many small islands off the coast
Tourist maps of the island show all manner of attractions seemingly right next to the road but we have found most of them very difficult to spot. Signposts for such things as waterfalls, ceramic art galleries and a Confucian School have all managed to disappear once we have got within a kilometre or so of the alleged destinations. During our searches we have managed to find a nascent miniature version of Kew Gardens and local Buddhist temple instead, neither of which was marked on the map.
Geoje Island is reportedly a popular tourist destination for mainland-dwellers during the summer and judging by the crowds and coaches we have seen already in some places, I can believe it. We will continue our coastal explorations as long as we can before the high season arrives, then perhaps turn our attentions inland. Who knows what we will find.
Azaleas as far as the eye can see…