Monday, 20 September 2010

Summer Vacation Day 12-14: Jeju Island part 2

Well, we woke up to ropey looking weather, so we decided to check out another sheltered attraction on Jeju- the lava tube caves. Jeju is home to the worlds longest lava tube cave, Manjanggul. Manjanggul is quite a distance from Seogwipo, right round on the east side of the island, so we eventually found the east coast bus and got on our way (navigating the buses is not that easy on Jeju, the stops are far from clear and lots of the buses have no number just a name in hangul). The bus journey took about 1 hour 45 mins and took us to the bottom of the road that led to the caves. Plenty of taxis wait at the bottom to take people up the road, its only about 3km but the road is narrow with no pavement and given the standard of Korean driving we didn't fancy walking, besides taxis are cheap here. By the time we arrived at the caves the weather was clearing up, shame we were about to go underground! The caves cost 2000 won each to get in and very, very wet, the rain had stopped above ground but it was still falling in the caves having been held up slightly by the rock.

Just by the entrance to the caves, you can clearly see just how soaking wet it was inside!

Lava stalactites created by molten lava dripping from the ceiling.

After a few photos we gave up trying to get any pictures of the inside of the cave, water was falling heavily and it was almost pitch dark, not great photography or sightseeing conditions! To be honest we weren't very impressed with the caves as they were dark, cold and miserable. The floor was very uneven and full of puddles and the lighting was almost non existent so it was hard to make much out, I was sure that the cave would look beautiful if only there was enough light to see it and that can be confirmed by pictures from tourist websites taken with much better lighting, so the next few pictures are not our own.

The lava pillar at the end of the cave, this had been formed by the floor of another lava tube above collapsing and the lava pouring down.

The straight lines on the sides of the cave indicate the height of the lava flowing through the tube at various times in the past.

Once we escaped from- sorry finished enjoying looking round the damp lava caves we walked a little way back down the access road to a large hedge maze and since the weather was now lovely got a couple of ice creams to walk round with. The first time we started out round the maze I tried to follow the technique of keeping my hand on one wall and it was a miserable failure, we ended up back at the entrance after ten minutes. We set out again and eventually found the bell in the centre and then made our escape via a bridge.

See the big arrow in the middle of the picture? We totally missed it when we were walking round, if we'd noticed it we might have made it to the middle a little quicker.

Finally made it to the middle to ring the victory bell!

View of the maze from the exit bridge, it looks so simple now.

After find our way out of the maze we caught the bus back towards Seogwipo but just as far as Seongsan ilchulbong which means sunrise peak in Korean. It is considered by Koreans that climbing the peak for sunrise is just one of those things you have to do at some point in your life. We're not early risers so we decided to do it for sunset instead and it was still awe inspiringly beautiful. Seongsan ilchulbong is a side vent of the main Jeju volcano that has formed a cone right on the edge of the island, it rises up steeply from the coast and has incredible views from the top.

The bus dropped us off right next to the bottom so the walk wasn't long.

The walk may not be long but it sure is steep! I was very glad that there were well maintained steps all the way up and that we didn't try to climb it in the heat of the day.

The view from the top was well worth the climb.

The view over the crater out towards the sea unfortunately the path going out across the crater was closed.

Rowan looking a little hot after the climb to the peak.

You can't see it in the photos but for a few brief seconds at the top the clouds parted and we got our only view of the peak of Hallasan the main volcano in the centre of the island and highest mountain in South Korea. We would have liked to climb Hallasan, but it takes about 8 hours to get right to the top and its a pretty tough climb even without the stifling heat and humidity. After Seongsan Ilchulbong we caught a bus back to Seogwipo, but it was pretty late by then so we found all the restaurants closed and had to have instant noodles for dinner again.

Day 14 and we woke up to discover that most of the island had disappeared! It was so misty you could barely see your hand in font of your face. We had planned to spend this day on Udo island which is supposed to have some of Korea's best beaches, but it didn't look like there was going to be much in the way of sun, so there was little point in that plan. Instead we decided to go and do our bit for global warming by riding quad bikes! So we picked up the west coast bus and headed towards Sangbangsan, the driver took us one stop too far but that meant we got to see a beautiful temple.

The temple was perched on the side of a mountain which you can just make out through the mist.

A display of hundreds of little Buddhist figurines, the temple also had a "gold" Buddha, unfortunately its was more like a spray painted yellow Buddah and looked just a bit cheap.

The temple was not an ancient one but had been finished in 1997, it was still very beautiful though.

Buddha converting and redeeming a cannibal in the forest.

After the temple we got back to what we'd come here for and did some quad bike/ATV riding which was awesome fun!

Me ready to go on the quad bike.

The course we rode around included mountain, forest and beach parts.

After quad bike riding we went on to check out the Yongmeori coast, just round the corner, this is one of the oldest parts of Jeju and home to some beautifully eroded volcanic cliffs, when the weather isn't too bad you can walk along the bottom of the cliffs right next to the crashing waves. It's beautiful but a bit scary, good thing the rough volcanic rock provides good grip, I don't think you'd have much chance if you fell in. All along the route there were ajummas sat gathering and cracking open shellfish which they were selling to tourists, none of them looked under 60 but they were fit as anything and laughing joking and having a great time! The cliffs were also home to the biggest sea lice I've ever seen some of them were well over an inch long (sea lice are like aquatic woodlice if you don't know what I mean).

Some of the cliffs of the Yongmeori coast.

The ajummas cracking and selling raw shellfish.

More beautifully eroded cliffs

Like I said the path at the bottom of the cliffs was right by the crashing waves.

The sea was still pretty rough when we visited because the typhoon had only just passed.

While we were there we got stopped by this Korean local TV crew who wanted to ask our thoughts about Jeju, famous at last!

Once we came to the end of the Youngmori coast we came out by a recreation of a 15th century Dutch trading ship which had been ship wreck on the island. After they had been wrecked the crew were held captive in Korea for 13 years before some of them escaped to Japan. One of the crew, a Dutchman called Hamel went on the write the first account of Korea by a westerner.

Hamel's ship, the Sperwer (or a recreation of it anyway).

Next to Hamel's ship is a museum/gift shop dedicated as far as I could work out to the friendship between Korea and the Netherlands, silly hats and dinosaurs an interesting combination to say the least! The Dutch part of the museum mainly featured displays about Korea's favourite Dutchman of recent years. Guus Hiddink, a former manager of their national football team who became wildly popular after leading them to finish in forth place in the 2002 world cup (which South Korea co-hosted with Japan). The Dutch displays also focused on the Dutch sex industry, something which they seemed very envious of! Outside the museum was a fibreglass model of Hiddink standing next to some fibreglass dinosaurs. And finally the museum as a collection of various random hats to try on which seemed to have no connection to anything else but were a lot of fun all the same!

Sophie posing in a Russian hat next to a cardboard Guus Hiddink.

No museum about the Netherlands would be complete without some windmills.

Or of course some clogs! Apparently they also became popular on Jeju after the shipwreck.

After the museum the mozzies were starting to bite so it was time to get back to civilisation in Seogwipo. We had another black pig dinner when we got back and went to bed hoping for better weather the next day.


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