Day Four: Sunrise Peak & Korean Meals

On our fourth day in Jeju, we woke up to the boom of some uninviting thunderstorms. I could pretend that this happened at 4:00 am, when we were planning to make an actual sunrise voyage to Sunrise Peak. But I would be lying. Actually, we were planning a day-long hiking trip to Mt. Hallasan, but the weather thwarted our plans.

Instead, we waited out the storm and headed to Sunrise Peak. This is, as the name suggests, supposed to be a beautiful place to take in a sunrise. It turned out to be a beautiful place in the middle of the afternoon as well. 

ImageSeongsan Ilchulbong was formed by a volcanic eruption about 5,000 years ago. The 180-meter peak faces the eastern coast of Jeju Island, hence its colloquial name, “Sunrise Peak.” 

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThe climb to the top didn’t take long at all, but it was a nice view. The most interesting part, in my opinion, was our climb down and the view of the hanyeo below.

ImageImageThe hanyeo are the women divers who collect abalone, shrimp, crab and other seafood used in restaurants and sold all over the island. The most impressive aspect of these divers is their age: the average age of the hanyeo is 75, with plenty who are even older. They use only the most rudimentary equipment to dive, and have been doing this for their entire lives.

This is a practice that, while widely respected among Koreans, is dying out. There aren’t exactly many young Korean women scrambling to take over this profession.

We had the opportunity to walk down to this area and watch them work.

ImageImageAfter watching this, we decided to sample their wares. We headed over to a restaurant at the base of Sunrise Peak that advertised the famous abalone rice porridge of Jeju Island.

We finally got to sit at a traditional Korean table as well:ImageThe funny thing was that all the regular tables were occupied by Koreans when we came in, and this type of table was the only one that was free. So the foreigners removed their shoes and sat cross-legged!

Alex tried the abalone rice porridge:Image

I tried a mixed seafood soup:Image I wasn’t a huge fan of the broth, but loved all of the seafood inside. Abalone, shrimp, crab, clams…all delicious and very fresh. I had to get a little creative in shelling my fish, though, as the only tools that I had were a spoon and two chopsticks.

The graveyard of my meal:Image

For dinner that night, we decided to keep with the Korean theme and try the most highly-rated BBQ place on TripAdvisor for Jeju. 

The meat was spectacular:ImageImage

The actual experience…not so much. Our waitress was very pushy, and kept trying to show us both how to BBQ and how to eat. Had we never been to BBQ before, this would have been helpful. But even after we said that we lived in Korea, and illustrated some familiarity with how Korean BBQ works, she still insisted on hovering and instructing us how to eat our food. Oh, and laughing every time we ordered something in Korean. Needless to say, we were waxing nostalgic about our BBQ spot in Busan by the meal’s end.

But, the meat was amazing and the soju was much stronger than anything we’ve had in Busan. So there was that. 

We really took it easy on our final day, so I’m not going to bother doing a post about that. It rained in the morning, so we lazed about a bit. By the afternoon, it had cleared up enough to go to a beach close by, with great waves. Not much to report in the way of cultural points of interest, but a wonderful end to our vacation nevertheless.

I hope you enjoyed my Jeju recaps! Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

Day Three: Manjuggal Cave

Welcome back to my painfully slow recap of the vacation I took two weeks ago! We are now on Day Three, which is when we 1) visited the longest lava tubes in the world 2) almost lost my camera and 3) ate one of the best burgers of my life.

review of Manjuggal Cave on Trip Advisor described it as “quite dark” with ground that was “not level,” resulting in a two-star rating. I’m not exactly sure what that person was expecting while visiting a cave, but I found it to be quite a worthwhile trip.

The bus dropped us off a few kilometers from the cave, and the walk there was actually beautiful. I’m glad we didn’t taxi it, as many sites had recommended.

ImageImageImageOkay, so this is a little morbid, but beautiful at the same time. We saw so many pretty butterflies and dragonflies in Jeju, but they were all too quick for me to snap a picture!

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Finally, we made it to the cave:

ImageUnfortunately, my pictures inside the cave were pretty dark (duh) so I don’t have much to show you. However, I can tell you that this lava tube was formed about 300,000 years ago when a flow of hot lava deep in the ground made its way to the surface. Although only one kilometer is open to the public, it stretches about 13.4 km and is the longest system of lava tubes in the world. It’s also one of the most well-preserved, considering how old it is. I don’t know what determines if a cave is well-preserved or not, but apparently this one is. Here are a couple terrible pictures of it:

ImageImageThere’s a really cool rock formation behind us, I swear.

It was an interesting site to visit, and if nothing else, a great reprieve from the sticky humidity of the outside world. Note the cardigan I’m wearing, which I practically ripped off my body as soon as we emerged from the cool depths of the cave.

After grabbing a bus back to Jeju City, we were just about gnawing our arms off in hunger. Enter: Burger Trip. I don’t know if it’s because we walked several miles and I was absolutely starving, or if it really was as good as I thought it was, but this place was ahhhmazing.

I got the Aussie Burger (not to be confused with the now-defunct restaurant in Busan, R.I.P.), which had bacon, cheese, a hash brown and an egg. Oh, yes I did:

ImageWith the mandatory side of kimchi, of course. Even when you don’t order Korean food, you get Korean food.

This was Alex’s chili burger (a quick snapshot, because I would have risked losing a limb if I didn’t let him eat right away):

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Finally, a milkshake for two:ImageThis was a Belgian chocolate milkshake, which was absolutely delicious. I actually thought this place was legitimately good, not just I’m-in-Korea-and-this-will-suffice good.

ImageOm nom nom.

Anyway, that about did it for Day Three. The trek to the lava tube was pretty far, so it ate up most of our time. As fun as that was though, that burger might have been the highlight of my day!

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Loveland and Hyeopjae Beach

Day Two began as all vacation days should…at a leisurely pace, with a cup of coffee and a good book. Our plan was to hike/relax/hike/relax/hike (though you can see we didn’t exactly follow the itinerary), and today was for chillaxin’.

First, we headed to Loveland. Loveland is an adult-themed sculpture park that is quite infamous in Korea. I’ll post a couple of the more tame pictures here, but will mostly leave it up to your imagination. I’m all about free speech, but there are some things your grandfather should just never read on your blog.

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ImageThere are a couple of interesting things to note about Loveland. I find it ironic for a country that has a national ban on pornography to have a sex-themed park as a major tourist attraction. It was filled with Koreans (as Jeju is a popular vacation spot for Koreans), so it’s not as if this is made for visiting foreigners. I was more than a little uncomfortable following the phallic arrows from sculpture to sculpture, while being trailed by a Korean family (and their 8-year-old son). Eek.

Second, as subversive as Loveland tries to be, all of the love and sex portrayed here is very heteronormative. That is, you will find no lady love or man-on-man here. It seems if they were really trying to push the envelope, they would include a more diverse selection. However, this is Korea, and same-sex sex is still very taboo.

After heading back to the hostel to get changed into our bathing suits, we went to Hyeopjae Beach. While it was a slightly-more-expensive-cab-ride-away than we thought, it was entirely worth it:

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The pure-white sand, the crystal clear water and the beautiful view of Biyangdo Island all screamed “YOU’RE ON VACATION.” Now, some of you may not know this about me (hah, hah) but sometimes I have a hard time relaxing. Well, it was impossible not to here. We swam, read, wandered and had a lovely afternoon with absolutely no plans more complicated than “I think I’ll change the song on my iPod now.”

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That was our day! Next up: The longest lava tubes in the word, my sprint in 105% humidity and how we became regulars in a Korean bar.

 

 

 

 

Day One: Olle Trail 6

We have returned from our week-long trip to Jeju Island, and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. I’m going to recap day by day, so bear with me as a catch up/inundate you with one bazillion pictures in the next week or two.

Our first full day in Jeju was spent trekking Olle Trail 6. The Jeju Olle trail is basically one giant walking path that takes you around the entire island. There are currently 21 different routes you can take; one of the most highly recommended ones was #6.

The entire route was 14.4 km (8.95 mi), and according to the dubious wisdom of Wikipedia, this trail “can be completed comfortably.” While the trail wasn’t difficult, it was over 90 degrees on the day we did it. ‘Round about 10 km, we were ready to call it quits.

We started in Seogwipo, a city on the south of the island (we stayed in Jeju City, on the north side). It continues along the coast, through villages, over a small mountain, into wooded paths, and winds down with some pretty amazing waterfalls. I really liked this trail because of the variety (don’t ask me how much I enjoyed the “small” mountain portion, as I was huffing and puffing my way to the summit).

Without further ado, some pictures from our wanderings:

ImageImageImageImageImageThis is the view of Sup-seom (that little island) from the top of Jeijigi Oreum. Spelling doesn’t count here, right?ImageImageImageImageImageThis  is Sojeongbang Waterfall, which is a short walk from two of the really famous ones in Jeju. The cool thing about this one is that you can stand underneath and grab a quick shower (see Exhibit A). While the prospect of cooling down was definitely appealing, the thought of having to walk the rest of the trail with wet feet was not.

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ImageThis is Jeonbang Waterfall, where I almost fell approximately one million times while hopping to that rock that I’m standing on. Korean girls in wedge sandals, however, had no problem navigating the slippery rocks. Power to ’em.

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ImageImageThis is the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, which falls from 72 ft and has a width of 39 ft (they didn’t let you stand under this one). I had to crop a lot of Koreans out of this picture, because this was a very popular and very touristy place. After the tranquility of running into almost no one on the trail, it was a little disappointing but not unexpected. We were both pretty drained by this point, but I forced a smile out of Alex for the camera:

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This was a really great way to kick off our trip. We covered a lot of ground and were able to explore some really different territories (and some of Jeju’s most famous sites). Stay tuned for more recaps in the days to come!