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Jeju Island and Jen's Visit

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 9 February 2008 | Views [10082] | Comments [2]

My time in 'The Land of the Morning Calm' is coming to a sad end. In a few weeks, I'll be on my way to Thailand for a week vacation, then I'm off to teach English in Cambodia for three months.

I want to backtrack right now because I have done so much since the last time I wrote. During 'Chuseok,' (Korean Thanksgiving) my best friend from Canada, came to visit me. She was here for ten days. During those ten days, we took a four day trip to Jeju Island.

I had been wanting to go to Jeju Island, since the first time I arrived in Korea. As every Korean will tell you, 'Jeju is the place to see.' Jeju Island is often called, the 'Hawaii' of Korea. Many young Korean couples go there for their honeymoon.

We took a discount airline called, 'Jeju Airlines' to get to the Island, which is Korea's largest island. The island is oval shaped, and is 73 km from east to west and 41 km from north to south. Jeju Island has a temperate climate, thus, why it is called 'the 'hawaii' of Korea. Jeju also has 'Hallasan' which is the highest mountain in Korea, and sits (more like towers), in the middle of Jeju. We could see Halla mountain from anywhere on the island, but it was hard to see the peak because it is so high up (1950 metres).

The plane we were on made me a bit nervous. It was a propeller plane, and it was extremely small. It was kind of cool to leave from Gimpo airport, because we had a nice view of Seoul during the day. Seoul is soo huge! When we arrived on Jeju the view coming down was awesome. Jeju is a volcanic island, and the beaches are full of black volcanic and basalt rock. The contrast between the green of the island, the blue of the ocean, and the black of the rocks was magnificient.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the temperature. Even though it was October, we found it really warm compared to Seoul. We didn't even pack any long sleeved shirts. We saw palm trees, and found out that mandarins, are one of the main fruits that they grow there. Jeju oranges are famous in Korea. They are sold all over the island, by Adjumas (older women), at every tourist place we ran into. In the airport, Jen - being the smart thinking ahead one - decided to buy a rain poncho. She said, that it is better to be safe than sorry. I thought that she may have been right, so I decided to buy one too. As we found out the next morning - Jen was right.

We hopped on a bus and headed to Seongsan, which is located at the northeastern tip of Jeju. We were excited to climb, Seongsan Illchulbong (sunrise peak), which is a volcanic crater, surrounded by 99 sharp rocks. Many people climb this mountain to see the sunrise. We booked into a room which had incredible views of the ocean, and of illchulbong. We arrived at night, so we couldn't see much.

The next morning we planned on getting up very early to hike up the crater. When the alarm went off at 530am, we looked out the window and realized it was very foggy, and rainy. We decided to wait a bit, to see if it cleared up. We headed out around 8:30, and knew that we had missed the sunrise, but wouldn't of seen much with the weather the way it was. I didn't forget to grab my poncho, on the way out.

The climb was amazing. The crater had stairs that went up on side of the crater. You could see all of Seongsan, and Udo Islet, which was across the sea. It rained quite a bit, as we started off, but as we neared the top, it cleared up a bit. Thankfully, we got some nice pictures.

The view from the top. It started to clear, finally.

Here is the volcanic crater at the top of the Illchulbong. What an awesome view. The east sea is behind it, but the illusion of the photo, makes it look like the sea is at the same level as the crater, but the crater is much higher up.

 This was the sign in front of the crater, to give some information on this unusual looking crater that is shaped like a crown.

Here is a view looking towards the small strip of bridge that you have to cross to get to Seongsan, which is the northern most tip on Jeju. I am surrounded by the sea here. What a surreal moment.

The next day, we took a bus over to the southern part of Jeju, to Seogwipo. This area is known for their famous resorts, and Jungmun beach. It also has quite a few waterfalls, that we discovered. This one below is, "Jeongbang Waterfall." It is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly into the ocean. At 23 metres, it is one of the twelve most beautiful scenic views on Jeju Island.

I wish we had more time to spend in Seogwipo area. We only had a day and a half to take in all the sights. We then headed to see another famous waterfall on Jeju. This one is called, "Cheonijiyeon waterfall." It has been designed and protected as a natural monument. Wow!

 We also took a bus, to try and find this famous temple named, "Yacheonsa" that we saw in the tourist booklet. I had read that it is supposedly the largest Buddhist temple in Asia. I really had to find it. We got off the bus, and had to walk for about 15 minutes before we stumbled onto it. On the way, we were surrounded by Orange groves. Can you believe it? Rows and rows of orange trees. The oranges (mandarins), were still green, and not ripe yet. However, it was truly a sight to see.

It was truly a peaceful walk towards the temple. There was no one around, but us, and mandarin trees. I noticed how different Jeju seemed to be, compared to the rest of Korea. It was way more laid back, and there was a lot less people. What a splendid vacation, indeed.

We finally ran into Yacheonsa, and were we ever amazed at how intricate, and huge it was. This is just one part. We walked around the grounds, and I took many pictures. Here are just a few that I took that day.

 On the way out, you get a whole view, of the area. How peaceful can this be. I wanted to stay here forever.  Almost, surreal looking. There were many wild flowers growing in this area. I decided to snap afew of the beautiful flowers that were growing near the temple.

We saw many other sights, on Jeju during those four days. We packed everything in, so we could see as much as possible. On the way home, I had spectacular views of the sunset from the plane. What an end to a truly magical place.

 

 

 

Tags: the great outdoors

 

Comments

1

Wow, what a nice tribute to our visit to Jeju Island! I'm so glad that I had a chance to visit you in Korea, and especially that you suggested we travel to Jeju Island. I can't wait to see you again and to share more travel adventures with you.

  Jen Feb 10, 2008 2:15 PM

2

Nice pictures and commentary. I'll have to make it to Jeju someday soon. Details will be on my Korean trip blog:

http://nathangoestokorea.blogspot.com/

  Nathan Jul 27, 2008 11:01 AM

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