Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jeju


Re: 2013/10/29-2013/11/2

On Tuesday we arrived in Jeju City (in Korean city is spelled as –si at the end of the name, e.g. Jeju-si) in the early afternoon. We used our transportation app (NaverMap) to figure out how to get to our hostel. For the first day, we decided to stay at B&B Pan, which had the cheapest rates we could find and was recommended by Leslie. After we finally found the entrance and were let in, we got settled in. They offered to provide us dinner, but they were already in the process of cooking, almost done actually, and I told Jonathan they might not have enough to include us. We declined, which was probably just as well, they didn’t look like they had much that we would eat.

My first impressions of Jeju-si was that it was smelly. Between the rotting, fishy smells of the ocean and the poorly-vented sewers, I was not impressed. B&B Pan was particularly smelly, even if they were friendly. For dinner, we decided to go find a restaurant. The owners of B&B Pan suggested a restaurant in the Black Pork street (Jeju-si has sections/streets where similar types of restaurants congregate. Near our hostel was Black Pork street, elsewhere there was a Noodle Street). So, we walked over. We went in, but shortly found out that they only serve pork and that you must order at least 2 servings, which was 400g (0.88 lbs). Jonathan didn’t think he would be able to consume all that, even with leftovers, so we left. After wandering around the blocks near our hostel twice, we decided on another restaurant. Jonathan got another pork cutlet, and I got a bibimbap (a rice dish with various vegetables on top). Trying to communicate with restaurant people is interesting. When your offline dictionary isn’t working, it is especially difficult to do custom orders. For example, I didn’t want egg. Apparently my Korean is just slightly off and she couldn’t understand my pronunciation of the word. Eventually, Jonathan’s phone worked, and I was able to show her the word. Later, this struggle caused me to come up with a chart for determining ingredients.

DSC06456 You can see the traditional Korean bibimbap rice dish in the foreground. Interestingly, in Korea, they always serve a pickled dish with your meal. PIckled radish is popular.

For our first adventure in Jeju Island (Jeju-do), we decided to check out Manjanggul Lava Tube. It is a very large cave formed by lava flows solidifying on the outside while the interior still flowed. It created many interesting geographical designs in the tunnel. We took a bus from Jeju-si city bus terminal to the bus stop nearest the cave. From there we took a taxi, but it was pretty expensive for the distance; definitely tourist extortion. The length of cave we traveled through was 1km long one-way; one of the top 10 longest lave tubes in the world, especially so accessible.

DSC06463There was a formation that is considered to look similar to the shape of the island.

DSC06464 This flow is a result of lava flowing through a hole in an upper tunnel into the tunnel below. The height of the lower tunnel is over 20 feet here.

DSC06468 Afterwards we grabbed a small meal of steamed manju (dumplings). Whenever I don’t think about it much, I was getting pretty good at chopsticks.

After the cave, we went on to Seongsan-ri to find a hostel. Our first effort was unsuccessful, apparently it had been shut down for repairs. Tired, we decided to try a hotel that was on the road. It was as cheap as anything listed on the internet, so we went for it. The plan was to go to bed early and climb up Seongsan (Sunrise Peak) before sunrise to catch the view at daybreak. So early to bed and early rise. We made it up the hill in plenty of time, unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy.

DSC06469 The fishing ships were still out. They use bright lights to attract the fish. This practice is actually a big concern, as it is extremely effective, greatly reducing fish populations, and it produces mucho light pollution.

DSC06474 The view from the top.

DSC06478 The sun just barely peaked through the clouds for a second.

DSC06479 The view on the way down.

DSC06483 The twisty-windy high climb up the mountain.

After our early morning journey, we went back to the hotel for a nap. Then we used the bus system to return to Jeju-si. Since I couldn’t stand the smell at B&B Pan, we decided to try another location. This time we settled at Backpackers in Jeju Hostel. It smelled a lot better and was conveniently located. To finish off the day, we figured we would make a trip out to the Jeju Love Land with a possible stop at the Arboretum. We took a taxi, since it was getting late in the day.

DSC06494 Jeju Love Land was very entertaining. This was one of the tamest scenes.

Afterwards, we were going to take the bus, but as far as I could tell from the timetables, the bus wasn’t going to show for an hour. We didn’t want to wait, so we walked back to the Love Land parking lot and picked up a taxi to the arboretum. The arboretum was scenic.

DSC06499 Learning to read these was a self-teaching experience. The top row designates the stops and I had to figure out the spellings. The left-hand column is the number of times the bus runs and the times are when it stops at the locations.  The yellow-boxed number represents the bus number.

DSC06498 I love maples.

The next day we decided to devote to hiking Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea. We were told the paths on the west side of the mountain were more beautiful at this time of year. I didn’t get to compare it to the east side, but it was definitely beautiful. I found the southwest path even more beautiful than the northwest. We got a bit of a late start, but we were there before they stopped letting people go up the trail (after a specific time, they stop letting people up so they won’t be on the trails after dark). We just wanted to make sure we made it to the next bus stop before the last bus at about 4:30. But we hustled, and we made it with 5 minutes to spare before the 2nd to last bus.

DSC06505 The colors were beautiful by now.

DSC06512 This was the scene as we flattened out at the top of the trail.

DSC06520 You can see why weren’t allowed to go to the peak from this side of the mountain—just straight cliffs.

DSC06522 As we crossed over from the northwest trail to the southwest trail, the clouds started rolling in, making it difficult to see past 20 feet in front of us.

DSC06528 At the view of the 500 Followers of Buddha, we were just looking out into a drop-off of cloudy nothingness.

DSC06530 These beauties decorated the southwestern trail.

DSC06546 Again, the color! Just beautiful.

After that very tiring climb, we got the very last available seats on the second-to-last bus. We arrived back at our hostel. I was craving American-style pasta; and fortunately, on the way back to our hostel, we spotted a restaurant that served just that. We had tasty pasta for dinner with real parmesan. Then the next morning we caught a flight out of town with Air Busan, a budget airline.

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