You can find these Dol Hareubangs (Stone Grandfathers) all around Jeju!
This blog is long overdue but I decided that I will blog about it because it was a great trip. Ek! So many things to write about that I decided to split this blog into two parts!
First of all, I want to thank Ji Hyo, my co-worker, for being a wonderful “tour guide” and making all the plans. She did an excellent job at guiding and taking care of everything, from booking transportations, the guesthouses, tour sites, and finding places to eat at!
Ji Hyo invited me to join her and her friend, Julia, on a trip to Jeju Island, one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, just a little over two weeks after I started teaching at the English center. I was so excited and accepted the offer to go. Who gets to go to Jeju Island just after they landed in Korea (besides the Jeju EPIK teachers)?! The trip was five days long. It wasn’t enough to see all of Jeju-do but it was a good amount of days!
One of my favorite things about this trip was getting to know Jeju-do through the eyes of the natives and hearing their stories. Our first tour guide was Ji Hyo’s friend, Miso. She showed us around her hometown and where she used to live. We had a wonderful dinner sharing stories of naughty students. Our next tour guide was the owner of the guesthouse we booked. I believe his English name is Martin. He took us to some of my favorite places on Jeju. Our last tour guide was a very friendly taxi driver who we hired to drive us around Jeju for a whole day. He was awesome and told us about the lifestyle of people on Jeju and some of Jeju’s myths about the Gods!
**I took pictures on my phone only. It does not do the colors of Jeju justice!**
Seonimgyo Bridge and Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
By going to the waterfall from the eastern entrance, we came upon the Seongimgyo Bridge. At first it seemed like a regular bridge we need to cross to get to our destination. However, this bridge was more beautiful than I thought. From a side view of the bridge, I saw that seven nymphs were carved onto it. The lush green trees that surround the bridge make the scenery really pretty also. Atop this bridge, the view was also amazing! I saw the greens hills stretching to the palm trees and ocean. After some pictures, it was time to move on.
There are three waterfall at this location. The uppermost waterfall is called the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, while the other two were just called the Second and Third Waterfall. (I know, pretty special name right?)
We started off by going to Third Waterfall. Walking the third waterfall felt kind of long and we were going downhill. The final destination to view the Third Waterfall was this very small wooden patio. It was very crowded with lots of people and the waterfall was not anything amazing. I don’t even have a picture of it! We only stayed for maybe five minutes and left for the Second Waterfall.
Walking uphill to the Second Waterfall, you can feel the moisture in the air and there were water running along the pathway. The Second Waterfall was definitely more worth it than the Third one. The wooden patio was much bigger and was actually on the base of the waterfall where you can definitely feel the waterfall’s mist. We snapped some photos and then it was off to our final destination.
Walking to Cheonjiyeon is a little further than the second waterfall and more slippery. Unlike the Second Waterfall, Cheonjiyeon did not have a wooden patio area so tourists were allowed to just stand on the rocks. In my opinion, this waterfall was not as impressive as the Second Waterfall but the water streaming from it looked so calm and cool, it made me wanted to jump into it after a long hike.
A combination of coldness (from the ferry ride to Jeju), heat, humidity, waterfall mist, and sweat just threw my body’s system off balance and, unfortunately, I fell sick after this hike. Overall, I liked the Second Waterfall best.
Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff
After the waterfall, Ji Hyo’s friend, Miso, who is a native of Jeju, came and picked us up and took us out for some native Jeju food. From there we headed to Daepo Jusangjeoli Cliff. Here, we saw volcanic rocks that have been sculpted into cube or hexagon pillars of all sizes by the ocean’s waves. It was pretty crowded here but once you drown out the sounds of the crowd, you can’t help but just be memorized by the sound of the waves as it crashes onto the rocks. You can see sail boats cruising along on the ocean. It was indeed a relaxing sight.
Oedolgae Rock aka Lonely Rock aka General Rock
Next, we made a random stop at this rock site. From a certain angle, the rock looks like person’s head coming out of the water. The few trees on top of it look like strands of hair. According to legend, a Korean general disguised the rock as a giant military general that scared their enemy so much that the enemy committed suicide or retreated.
Morning on the Beach
We met up with Martin, the guesthouse owner, the next day. First, he took to a beach on the north eastern side of Jeju. That beach was amazing. It was the first time that I’ve seen such a clear shore in person, it made me really happy! I really wanted to just jump in and swim but it was quite windy and I didn’t have spare clothing with me. We stayed there for almost an hour taking lots of pictures. You can’t go to the beach and not take jumping photos!
** On our way to the volcanic tube, we saw two ladies walking to go there. Our guest house owner stopped and offered them a ride. Their names was Alexis and Angelina and are English teachers in Jeonbuk. From there on, we spent the rest of the day together.**
Argh, I don’t remember the name of the volcanic tube that we went to but I was definitely one of my favorite activity we did. I’ve never been in a cave before so this was very exciting for me. Plus, being underground meant I didn’t have to deal with allergies. Upon entering the lava tube, you can feel coldness coming from inside. The ground was all wet and water was dripping from the ceiling. Through the lightly dim lights that were installed in the tube, you can see the different rock layers on the wall. It was about a 30 minutes’ walk to the end of the trail were you were no longer allowed to go further. There was really nothing super special about the tube (if you’re not into rock or is not a geologist) but I still really enjoyed this part of the trip.
There’s nothing quite like the oreums on Jeju. According to Ji Hyo, oreums were not popular sites to visit until a photographer took pictures of them. From then on, more people started visiting oreums. The oreums were a great escape from all the tourists as there were not many people here.
It was absolutely beautiful to be here. The open fields were so green and peaceful. At the top of an oreum, you can see for miles and miles just how green Jeju is. You can also see lots of farmland and windmills. I couldn’t help but remember the scene from Windstruck were the main leads was on a hill top and the guy says to the girl that when he dies, he wants to become the wind. I, too, thought it would be nice to be like the wind!
Our last destination of the day! There was so many people there. At the base of the crater, you can see people either coming from or going up to the top of the crater. Maybe there was just something about the greenness of the grass and trees and how it reflected the sun’s rays that made me felt like everyone was making a holy homage!
After a long day of walking around already, hiking up to the top of the crater was no joke! I was so tired upon getting to the top; I took a seat at the closest open spot and didn’t move! The view on the outside of the crater was worth it though because you can see the oceans and the towns from below. However, I can’t say the much for the view inside the crater. It was just a big hole with grass and bushes.
After sitting from about 30-40 minutes, we made our way down to finally call it a day! At this time, I was dead tired from hiking and my sickness. I couldn’t wait to just be in bed!
Continue to part 2.