This has been a bit of a hectic last few days, as I took my last few vacation days to visit Jeju Island. Jeju is the southern-most part of Korea, and is known as a sort of tropical paradise. However, for me, the combination of weather and the work I had to do to get around, it was more like normal Korea + volcanic rock and a few palm trees.
While it was nice to be away from classes, the weather for most of the time was cloudy. I didn't even get to see the largest mountain in Korea, the volcano Hallasan, because it was so overcast most of the time. Anyway, here's a bit of a recap :
I arrived Saturday afternoon, and after checking in to the hotel in Jeju city, I went to Samseonghyeol shrine. This shrine is where the legendary brothers who founded the island were "born" when they emerged from three holes in the ground.
The next day I went to the eastern part of the island, to the Manjanggul lava-tube cave. Manjanggul is supposedly the longest lava-tube cave in the world. It was pretty interesting, and a nice reprieve from the heat. Unfortunately most of my pictures didn't turn out because of the darkness, but here's the highlight of the cave - a 7 m. tall lava pillar :
Monday morning, I went to the southern coast, to the city of Seogwipo. Seogwipo is more laid back than the typically Korean Jeju-si. First I went to Jeongbang waterfall, which is supposed to be the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the sea.
After that I made a trip to see Oedolgae, which is basically just a large rock off the shore that has a legend attached.
My next stop was Jungmun city, which was probably the highlight of the trip. The sun finally came out, so I went to Cheonjeyeon waterfall. Cheonjeyeon is a three-tiered waterfall where (quoting my LP guide) "the seven nymphs of who served the Emperor of Heaven used to slide down moonbeams to bathe every night." It's all beautiful, and there's even a huge bridge crossing it all which allows you to see for miles.
Then I was off to Jusangjeolli. Jusangjeolli is like a miniature version of Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. When the hot lava reached the sea, the rapid cooling and contraction created distinct formations along the coast.
Tuesday morning I went back to Jeju-si. I did some roaming around the city before finding a motel to drop off my backpack, then took a bus along the east coast to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Seongsan is another extinct volcano, and one of the most popular hikes aside from Halla mountain. While it looks huge, it only took twenty minutes to get to the top where there are some pretty great views (when it isn't foggy) and a big grass-filled crater.
I'm glad I got to Jeju, since it is supposed to be one of the not-to-be-missed highlights of Korea. I guess I was just assuming I'd be doing more relaxing and less hiking up and down stairs!