Since we had a three day weekend (August 15th is Liberation Day in Korea), Daniel and I decided to go to Jeju Island with Seoul Hiking Group. Jeju Island is said to be the “Hawaii of Korea” and is vying to be one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature“.
I did really love Jeju, and it’s definitely the best place I’ve been to in Korea. It is very green, has beautiful beaches, and lots of cheesy tourist attractions. We packed a lot of sightseeing into three days!
We left on Friday night and the bus took us to the bottom of Korea’s mainland. Then Saturday morning we boarded the ferry to Jeju. Our group had to divide up and we got on the earlier ferry. So while we were waiting for the others, we went to a nearby beach and explored.
After everyone got there, our first stop was Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak. It rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago and there is a huge crater at the top. I opted not to hike to the top because it was rainy and windy, I was wearing flip-flops, and it looked like a lot of stairs. Apparently it was so foggy that they couldn’t see anything anyway, so I didn’t miss out!
Next up: Gimnyeong Maze Park. This unique maze park contains foliage from all over Asia and has images incorporated in it (a serpent, horses, a ship, and dolmens, all of which are famous symbols or landmarks of Jeju Island). It was optional and only five of us went but I’m glad we did. They gave us a map but I just followed everyone around and took photos. We did finally find our way to the middle, and rang the bell so all would know!
We walked down the road to catch up with the group at Manjanggul Lava Tube. A lava tube is formed when the lava that was deep in the ground spouts from the peak and flows to the surface. We were strapped for time so I just went down into the cave briefly, but long enough to get cooled off!
Next we walked along a short trail to Yongyeon Bridge, above a clear stream where salt water and fresh water meet. The bridge offers a view of the ocean and the cliff’s ridges. Yongduam, or Dragon Head Rock, was another short walk away. It is a volcanic rock formation and I’ll let you guess what it looks like… (No good photos as we were too lazy to walk down to the rocks.)
Our last stop of the day was the best: Loveland. Loveland is a place where art and eroticism meet. It features 140 sculptures of people in various sex positions as well as other erotic statues and exhibits. I have been hearing about and wanting to visit Loveland since I moved to Korea. It is ironic because Koreans are so reserved but then they have an erotic sculpture park where kids and grandmothers roam around posing for photos! Needless to say, we had fun!
Saturday we were up early again for another full day of sightseeing. First stop: Daheeyeon Green Tea Fields. I don’t like green tea, but it was early in the morning and we were the only ones there so it was nice to just wonder around and enjoy the peace and nature.
After that we went horseback riding. Well, everyone except me that is. I have never liked horses so I opted to be a spectator and I’m glad I did. Daniel was so scared! After getting on the horse he kept saying “This is terrifying!” Which was pretty amusing. Luckily for him it was a short ride!
Next up was a quick stop at the Trick Art Safari. Daniel wasn’t into it so I just made him take photos of me with all the colorful animals.
In the afternoon we had free time to explore the Jungmun Resort Complex area. We visited Cheonjeyeon Waterfall first, which is a a three-tier waterfall that starts from a cave and goes into the ocean.
Seonimgyo Bridge was very beautiful as well. It is an arch bridge over Cheonjeyeon Waterfall that has seven nymphs carved on both sides. The nymphs symbolize the Korean legend of the descent of seven beautiful nymphs from heaven at night.
After crossing the bridge, we walked down a loooooooooooong hill to Jungmun Beach. I did not really care for this beach. It was crowded, the waves were too rough, and it was loud from all the Koreans screaming every time a wave hit them, which was every five seconds. Also the sand was really sticky and would not come off! After a quick dip in the ocean, I was ready to leave. There were lots of surfers though and it looked like a good place for surfing but not swimming.
We took a taxi back up the hill and I went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (Daniel had had enough sightseeing for one day). I have been to some Ripley’s attractions before but it’s been years and I was really glad I went to this one, even if I had to run through it! My favorite part was the “Absurd Museum” with art made from various recycled materials.
Monday was our last day on Jeju. Most of our group left at 4:30am to hike Hallasan, the highest mountain in Korea. We slept in and chilled at
Hamdeok Beach all day! I loved this beach. The water was clear, shallow, and calm. The area was beautiful… black basalt rocks, an arched bridge, and families kayaking. If I go back to Jeju I will definitely spend more time there. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos as I was too busy having fun! Here’s one, but it doesn’t do it justice…
After the hikers were finished, we all headed to the ferry port for the long ride back to Seoul. We got home after 2am Tuesday morning. It was an exhausting but fun-filled weekend! After going out of town four out of the last five weekends, I am looking forward to staying home this weekend!