Monday, 20 September 2010

Summer Vacation Day 10-12 Jeju part 1

After arriving at Jeju ferry terminal, we realised that getting to Seogwipo where we planned to stay was going to be a nightmare by bus as it is right on the other side of the island and the ferry terminal is two buses away from the bus terminal on the other side of Jeju city and then Seogwipo is another bus away again. We decided to go by taxi, The taxi ride across the island was hair raising as usual with Korean taxis, we actually had to ask him to slow down a few times not that it made a difference for more than 10 seconds, the taxi ride cost us 30 000 won. When we arrived in Seogwipo we first went to the Jeju hiking inn, a cheap hostel very popular with forgeiners but they were booked up so we ended up at the Wooseong(or Useonng depending on the guidebook you read- 우성 in hangul) motel jsut accross the road, it only cost 30 000 won a night and was pretty nice, the room even had a sea view on to Seogwipo harbour.

View of Seogwipo harbour from our motel window.

After dumping our bags at the motel we strolled down the hill to the harbour to visit the tourist info by the car park for the Cheonjiyeon waterfall, they were very helpful, spoke good English and sorted us out with a good supply of maps, bus timetables and other info. We took a quick stroll along the harbour down to the seaside, unfortunately Seogwipo has no sandy beach, just a rocky shoreline, still the view is nice and they do have a submarine! After some umming and arring about the 50 000 won cost of a submarine ride (about £30) we decided to go for it, after all it's not everyday you get to ride in a submarine and since we both have narrow sinuses its the only way we're going to see deep underwater (Rowan has been scuba diving and it made his nose bleed and my ears pop going up gentle hills). So we made a booking to ride the submarine the following morning. Feeling very excited about the submarine we walked up into Seogwipo town and along to the Jeongbang falls at the back of the Seogwipo conference centre. The Jeongbang falls are touted as the only waterfall in Asia which falls directly into the sea, some pedants dispute this and say there are others or that they fall into a pool next to the sea. Either way the falls look incredible and fall pretty much straight into the sea.

Tourists splashing in the pool at the foot of Jeongbang Falls.

Rowan getting soaked by Jeongbang falls. The water was a curious mixture of warm sea water and absolutely freezing river water.

After the waterfall we had a delicious dinner of Jeju black pig samgyeopsal from a very friendly restaurant just up the hill from our motel, Jeju is famous for its own breed of black pigs with a distinctively delicious taste, they are very tasty.

Black pig barbecue in Seogwipo.

The next day we got up early feeling excited because it was the day of the submarine ride! We went down to the harbour to the submarine tour offices and, with a load of Korean tourists, were led to a boat which took us out to where the submarine was waiting. For some reason, when we were moving from the boat to the sub, we were put in the front of the queue - maybe they gave us preferential treatment because we were waygooks (foreigners) or maybe they just wanted us out of the way! The sub was awesome, we dived to a depth of about 45m, saw lots of fish, coral and even a ship wreck. A diver came down with the sub and swam alongside it, feeding the fish to draw them near so we could all gawp at them.

Submarine 'Jiah' awaits!

The submarine captain stands at attention.

A diver attracting fish by feeding them shrimp.

Fish swarming around the boat chasing after the shrimp left by the diver.

The captain of the ship at the controls.

Some stripy fish, no idea what sort of fish they are though.

Jeju isn't quite warm enough for hard coral but there were magnificent displays of brightly coloured soft coral.

It was pretty cramped in the submarine but nowhere near as cramped as the little North Korean sub we saw in Jeongdongjin.

After the sub ride we were given free photo souvenirs of us grinning like idiots. We went back to the motel, picked up our stuff and caught a bus to Jungmun Beach, Jeju's big, luxury tourist resort where Korean newly weds stay on their honeymoon. Our first stop in Jungmun was the Teddy Bear Museum. This museum is apparently very popular with Korean newly weds and we saw a lot of happy looking couples wandering around it, having their pictures taken with every, yes every, single bloody exhibit. The museum of course had lots of exhibits about teddy bears and featuring teddy bears recreating fsmous moments from history including: the teddy moon landing, the the teddy Beartles, the teddy titanic disaster of 1912 and the discovery of the teddy-cotta army in China!

Korean couple having their photo taken with a giant teddy.

"Is that an iceberg ahead, Teddy?" The brave teddy-tanic musicians play on as disaster envelopes them.

The Teddy Moon landing, 1969.

Teddies storming the beaches of Normandy, 1944.

Brave American teddies fighting their way up the beaches in Normandy.

Teddy Van Gogh.

After the teddy bear museum we wandered down to Jungmun beach and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the sun and swimming. We rented another inflatable ring and rode it up some massive waves. Jungmun beach is very popular with families and though it was a nice, clean beach with lots of amenities (showers, stands selling noodles, beer etc.) we did wonder why it was so popular as the current seemed really strong and the waves were ridiculously big. We realised later that this was not the norm. In fact, it was because a typhoon was about to hit Jeju and it would be the first either of us had ever experienced. We left the beach about 7pm and got caught in some serious rain waiting for a bus back to Seogwipo - this was the beginning of the typhoon though we didn't realise it yet. Luckily we had some cheap little plastic rain coats which saved us from the worst of it. We picked up some beer and noodles and retired to our motel for the night.

The next day was really miserable, with driving rain and strong winds. We went to the tourist info and got some bus timetables grabbed some breakfast from a convenience store and tried to decide what to do given the horrible weather. In the end we decided to take refuge in the Rose Marine (Pyeonuijeom), a bar that looked like a tumbledown shack almost completely hidden by jungly foliage with bits of boat attached to it and some random skis for decoration. Yep, the most random bar we've come across in Korea and one of the best with friendly staff and a chilled atmosphere. We had a few beers there while we waited for the rain to stop and amused ourselves taking lots of portrait photos with my dslr camera on different settings.

View of Seogwipo harbour in the rain from the Rose Marine.

Yet more rain, this time soaking the wooden picnic benches outside the Rose Marine.

By about 4pm the rain finally started to ease off a little so we caught the 600 bus to Jungmun to see the Yeomiji Botanical Gardens, housed in a huge greenhouse. The plants were nice but the gardens were not that special, not compared to Kew Gardens anyway. The view from the top of the building was pretty good though.

The giant greenhouse structure of the Yeomiji Botanical Gardens.

A massive Amazonian water lilly, some of the pads were nearly a meter across and had spines on the outside.

Cactus plants at the gardens.

The delightful weather outside from the windows at the top of the gardens.

Some of the debris blown down by the typhoon.

We eventually ventured back outside and the weather had got even worse so we caught a bus back to town, picked up some beer and noodles (again!) and took cover in our motel room. We watched some trashy films and hoped for better weather for the next day.


  1. How can you, Sophie 'turning Japanese' Hale complain about Koreans taking too many pictures?!

    Enjoy Japan!

  2. Lol She`s been complaining about me taking too long taking photos today! Japan is great, how is Boryeong?

  3. I love that picture of rowan and the waterfall.

    Sounds like you've been having really good adventures :)

  4. Thank you very much, most pictures can be improved with added Rowan!

    We've been having some awesome adventures and Japan was even better.