Monday, February 11, 2013

Jeju-do Summer vacation Trip

What did I do: Jeju trip for summer vacation, beginning of people's going away
The end of July and the first week of August was my summer vacation. I hadn't planned well enough in advance and decided I wanted to see more of Korea. I had seen a trip with Seoul Hiking Group where I could bike around Jeju Island, which is an island just a couple hour ferry ride south. Sadly, no one else signed up for this trip so I joined the regular trip that would take day tours of the island.
On the Friday my break started I got on a bus with 30 other teachers who desperately needed to get away from Seoul and started the bus ride to the south. We got to the ferry port around 5:30 and most of us got out of the bus and watched the sun come up.

We waited about 3 hours, had breakfast, and started our ferry ride to Jeju. It was mercifully a very smooth ride but I took some motion sickness medicine to be on the safe side. For the three hour journey, most of the people on the trip slept or watched the coverage of the Olympics opening ceremony.
We got to our pension around noon and some of us went and sat out on the beach for our first afternoon. The weather was perfect, but high tide was coming in so I didn't stay out too long. I went inside though and took a nap for a bit since I didin't sleep much on the ferry.
I did get to enjoy some delicious black pork that is famous on Jeju. A myth or possibly the truth is that these pigs used to be fed from the crapper and what they ate turned their meat dark. Anyway, this pork did not look like pork but it was definitely worth it. We got ten orders of 300g and even with 12 people, all of us left the restaurant stuffed! The best part of this restaurant(we went twice) was that they came and picked us at our pension and then brought us back.
the delicious pork

view from the balcony of our pension. We had a nice view of Hallasan.
part of the group who went to get black pork!

Day One was spent on a bus going from the Naive Forest or Gotjawal which has trees that are up 500 years old.  It also had traditionally made wood carving statues. These happy faces were following us all around on our walk through.

After the forest we went to Loveland, which is a park that has tons of erotic statues and art. The whole place is known for being a destination for honeymooning couples, but we also saw some young families walking around. There is an art gallery in one of the buildings that holds dioramas of different situations that all revolve around sex; boys in a classroom with a female teacher(not very dirty), couples in a love motel, and what can happen outside a bar.

After loveland we went and saw this rock called the Dragon head. If you look at it from one side you can see the head and the body coming out of the water. After seeing the rock we went and got lunch. I went with a group of people and got a meat and rice soup dish. If I had thought about it, I would have written down what I ate, but I forgot to do that. Needless to say the dish was very yummy and even if it was soup and the day was very hot, it was worth it.

After lunch we went to the Lava Tube caves, which was a welcome relief to the afternoon heat. Not many pictures came out well from this excursion, so I don't have any to show. These lava tubes are several kilometers long and we only spent about an hour there.  When we all got out of the tubes, we were feeling a bit chilled and refreshed and many of us were hoping to just go to the beach afterwards.

But we persevered and went to the MAZE. This maze took from 10 minutes to an hour for some people to complete. I have never been in a maze before, so I was excited to try my hand on one. Needless to say it took me about 35 minutes to complete and I was very happy to be able to ring the damn bell signfiying my completion of the maze.

Pretty little pond on the way out of the maze.
After the maze, a group of us continued to another beach where we watched the sunset. We got into the water for a bit to cool off and it was nice to relax in a small group of people.
The sunset on fire.
Ah, makes me think of the days I spent on the beaches in Puerto Rico.
After staying on the beach to sunset, there were 7 of us together. We were walking towards the bus stop that we were told to take and we were trying to come up with ideas on what to do incase the bus was no longer running. We found a taxi coming along the road and the 7 of us got into it with the taxi driver who drove us the 20 minutes to our pension. I sat on the lap of another girl in the front seat and that was possibly the tightest squeeze I have ever been in. It was an early to bed that night because the next day I was getting up to go hike Hallasan!

Hallasan is the highest mountain that is in South Korea. We got up at around 8:00 then arrived at the mountain around 9:30 AM. None of us had wanted to get up earlier and do a sunrise hike, which would have meant getting to the moutain between 2 and 3. The way up was under a lot of trees so there were not many opportunities to take pictures. We got to the first station by  11:30, but we still had a long way to go. This was diffently an easier hike than my Seroksan hike(l but it was still very challenging for me. The sign above was incredibly misleading so by the time we finished at around 5:30, I wanted to kill the person who though those signs were honest. At the top of Hallasan is a crater for the dormant volcano. When we arrived at the top it was a very foggy day, so we couldn't see far off the mountain but I got great shots of clouds rolling into the crater and obscuring it from view. We had some fun walking around the top and taking pictures. These are definitely my favorite shots from the trip.
Art and Julia on the pole.

I made it!

The crater!

This is how I burned my back really bad that day. Did not reapply my sunscreen going down the other side and I had a nice sports tanktop burn. -.-'
A korean man demonstrating the proper way to advertise Korea's beer Cass
Melissa, Katharine, Art, Caroline, Julia, Chelsey, Kevin,  and I

The Koreans pack all of that on there backs and bring it up plus alcohol. They know how to hike

On the way down the other side, it was much nicer and we had a lot of stops to take photos.

Yeah, it said it was only 1.3 km to the bottom, it still forever.

Melissa and Kevin skipping across the bridge.
We got done at around 5:30 and when we got back for dinner, a group of people wanted to go to dinner at another barbecue place. It was black pork again, but it was worth the long walk to and fro. After dinner a small group of us, Caroline, Julia, Denisa, Julie, and Kevin went down for anight swim on the beach. We ended up playing with this group of Thai guys who were also on the beach. It was a great night and really enjoyable way to relax after hiking all day. The next day was our last day on the island before we left.
Sunrise Crater
The next we took a trip to the Sunrise Crater which is right next to where the ferry dropped us off. The crater was a 15 minute hike up stairs and it was astounding for me to see all these women wearing heels, fancy dresses, and full make up. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got to the top, in the 98 plus degree heat and high humidity at nearly 9:30 in the morning.
The whole area around the crater is part of the UNESCO heritage and there is a lot of different things to see. The rest of the day we went to see the Hexagonal Rock, the Grandmother rock, a black sand beach, and a waterfall that goes into the sea.

Hexagonal rocks

Getting a photo taken by a Korean dad and son.

The Grandmother rock

The waterfall that goes into the sea.
The day was so hot that by the time we got to the waterfall, I was prepared to go in. A group of us all got out of our shorts and went in for a dip, which was so refreshing after all day long tromping around. We did visit a beach at lunchtime, but was just not long enough stay.
The last night on the beach, great times.

The view outside my window at the pension.
This break was great, and I enjoyed my time in Jeju.  I was happy to hike Hallasan, see some great sites through UNESCO as well as enjoy some time on the beach.

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