Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day Four of my 7 Days, 8 Nights South Korea Trip 2014 - A Memorable Day Indeed


I was awoken by the phone alarm and dragged myself out of bed. Time: 4.00am - sleep was something i am frequently deprived of when i am overseas, unless i am on a free and easy beach vacation! 

Why woke up so early then? Because our younger sister had plans to check out the sunrise at Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone; one of three sites in Jeju granted the UNESCO World Heritage status! 

As the ride from Galeum Guesthouse to Seongsan Ilchulbong would take us about an hour, we were still late and eventually had to catch the sunrise from the heated comfort of our rented car

For more details (and more photographs) on the impressive Seongsan Ilchulbong (also known as Sunrise Peak) and the spectacular view at the summit, check out my posting HERE.  

Sunrise peak from another location - we were searching for Seopjikoji; an area made famous by a Korean drama "All-In". Couldn't find it using GPS and decided to write it off our itinerary. According to another guidebook i was given, the correct number could be either 782-0080 or 782-7800.

Horses by the side - Louise was so looking forward to riding the horses in Jeju which has a long history of breeding horses and even has a professional horse museum! 

Another view of Seongsan Ilchulbong; i remember an episode in Running Man where the camera drone panned to the top of Sunrise Peak and i was literally mesmerised by its beauty! That episode kind of encouraged me to make this trip with my siblings! Running Man FTW! 

I had to stop the car as i spotted an item of personal interest - a tomb! The characters were in Chinese and although it had two names, the words at the bottom indicated a memorial plaque rather than tomb. 

Nice right?! Wouldn't many of us love to live in that quaint little house on the side and be greeted by the morning sun and the aroma of fresh vegetables every day?! I would love to! 

Modern windmill up close! There were a lot more vegetable plantations in this part of Jeju (which is the Eastern side). At the centralised Seogwipo, we had a higher hit rate of spotting tangerine orchards. 

After driving for forty minutes, we arrived at the entrance of Manjanggul Lava Tube, part of Jeju lava tube system which is another UNESCO world heritage site in Jeju. Click HERE for my detailed posting. 

On the road again; cloudless blue sky, a sunny day and three sleepy individuals. 

Given the sleepy state and that it was mainly driving from one point to another, i knew for a fact i had to stop at times to give my eyes a rest from the roads. However, i would only stop at spots that were more interesting; like a horse range! 

Thirty minutes later, we were goofing around at Jeju Trick Art Museum! Click here for the many pictures taken; it was quite fun actually.  

Check out the coupon tree which offered many discount coupons to tourist attractions in Jeju! We should have something similar in Singapore with one slight adjustment. 

To have them in English too so that international visitors can benefit from their utilization! $#%#%@%@ not that it mattered to us then since we would be leaving Jeju for Seoul the next day. 

Is that a banner for Korea's insanely popular running man variety show!? Pity i don't read Korean and hence, couldn't grasp the purpose of this! 

Our intention on day four was to cover the eastern side of Jeju and this was one of the rare occasions we chanced upon a Jeju tangerine orchards. As mentioned previously, there were a lot more vegetable plantations at this part of the island even though we were, at this point, on the way back to Seogwipo to check out Jeongbang Falls. 

The glaring sun, the never-ending driving, a sleep-deprived state; conducive factors for a car accident which really happened on my inaugural Korea trip! To read more, click here

As far as blood was concerned, Louise was the worst hit with the iron rich liquid flowing down her neck, staining her silver necklace and dirtying her shoes. 

With this accident, it's also time to say good bye to our silver Hyundai Morning.

In exchange for a bright red car! As i had purchased full insurance coverage beforehand, the car rental company sent this to the hospital at no extra cost (save for payment for a new insurance coverage). For rental of cars in Jeju, check out my post here

Despite the injuries (which were thankfully not serious), we continued our journey by indulging in abalone porridge, grilled mackerel and abalone stew!  For more mouth-watering photos and my review, click this link.

It was also meant to be a celebration to have escaped with light injuries. As the Chinese saying goes, 大难不死 必有后福 mah (for English translation, click here)! Hence, it was a short chill out time at Angel in Us, a popular cafe with many branches in Korea, 

We didn't manage to visit Jeongbang Falls since it was already quite late. Instead of going back to the guesthouse to rest, we were once again back at this place. E-mart where Joyce can do some grocery shopping and buy some souvenirs for her friends! 

The one thing i love from supermarkets in Korea was the existence of the above service. Cardboard boxes and tapes were provided for you to pack your shopping items; so eco friendly! Given the expensive retail space in Singapore, such a service would not likely be commonly seen. I could only think of IKEA so far. 

9 pm - time to take my medication and sleep! 
Tomorrow shall be a better day! 

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For the summary of my South Korea trip (including Seoul and Jeju Island) and links to the respective day, click HERE.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak [aka Sunrise Peak, 성산 일출봉 & 城山日出峰] @ Jeju Island [Korea]

I think it's kind of incredible (and crazy) to arrange for another hike a day after the exhausting trek up Hallasan! That's my family; when overseas, we tried to make full use of our time!

Our intention was to catch the sunrise at where-else-but-sunrise-peak but we were never early risers and the blazing ball of fire was already up in the sky when our rented car entered the spacious car park.

The view that greeted us took our morning breath away (not the smell though) and i was momentarily silenced by the magnificent splendor of Korean National Monument No 420! Thank god there wasn't a car behind us.

Right in front of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak was the Dong Am Sa temple i mentioned a few days ago in this blog. For slightly more information, click here.

As expected, a statue of dolhareubang (grandpa rock). I am not going to regurgitate what i have written before. To read more on its unverified origins, check out the wikipedia page here.

Admission tickets were charged at ₩2,000 an adult (or ₩1,000 a child) before you can embark on the long, winding route up the peak. Given the lack of a gate and limited manpower, i bet you can walk in without paying a single cent although i wonder if it is worth the effort just to save less than S$3.

Some visitors were still marvelling at the mystical glow from the rising sun; likely expecting gold to fall from the rays. I am kidding of course. If there is indeed such a phenomenon, i would be there.

View of Seongsan, East Jeju - for an amateur photographer, the most i could do was to make use of the natural light shining on the village to take this photograph! 

The road that never seemed to end. It's hard not to think of Hallasan at that moment and you can definitely see from Joyce's expression that she was resigned to the fate of re-experiencing the exhaustion from climbing stairs after stairs. 

Only the ahjumma, with her symbolic tote bag, continued undeterred in her crusade to reach the peak. Compared to the freezing start at Hallasan, it was thankfully not as chilly at Sunrise Peak. 

Ascending trail - to prevent a bottleneck especially during peak seasons, it made better sense to have a one-directional trail for visitors. 

Not everyone adhered to it even though i chose to believe they decided to give up halfway through the walk and it would be much easier for them to return to base using the same trail. 

Reached a rest station for older folks (like myself) to take a breather.

It's also time for breakfast! Given the rush to get out of Galeum Guest House to catch the sunrise, we had to postpone the most important meal of the day until then! Simple meal though; two bottles of yummy banana milk and two slices of egg-battered toasts! 

Stairs - Joyce's (and Po's) worst nemesis! 

Came upon a commercial entity which had yet to open for business that day. For those who are dehydrated, please purchase your water from this shop! For those who are too early, prepare a bottle yourself! Worst case scenario - hydrate yourself from the morning dew on the leaves! 

Deung Gyeong Dol (Lamp Rock) where villagers of Seongsan would bow four times to. There were a few legends relating to this rock but what intrigued me more was a plaque warning visitors of a "legendary spirit that dwells in the rock".

Not much information exists of this legendary spirit and i took pleasure in checking out this cavity nearby which turned out to be just a hollow hole big enough for a kid to do his / her business there. 

The unique rocks found during the hike was said to be a result of piled up volcanic ashes that were eventually eroded over a long period of time. Not that it matters but is that a chicken i see in the middle? 

Looks like a gigantic stone-age hammer to me. Jeju Island is known as the Island of the Gods and for all we know, there could be a legend of a god who has this as his / her weapon. The deity could likely be Thor. 

Elevated view of Seongsan; as with any such climbs, please hold on to your kids, specifically hyperactive ones who have the tendency to fall off the fence in split seconds. 

Mount Halla at a distance away! According to guidebooks, you can see Mount Halla at any corner of Jeju Island as it is situated right in the middle! 

Windmills to harness the wind for power! Anyone remembers that i mentioned Jeju has three abundances; one of which is wind! 

Imagine - this is a humongous dog staring at a humongous biscuit. 

Photos of both sisters in the beautiful backdrop! 

A panorama shot for my Facebook cover photo. The landscape is quite interesting as it used to be a much larger due to the volcanic eruption 5,000 years ago that resulted in the formation of Sunrise Peak (a tuff cone). Wave erosion has contributed to the development of the current appearance.

The final few steps to reach the peak!

Joyce had to act this out as she had suffered greatly in the hands of Louise who was the master planner of the itinerary. I am okay; tired, sleepy yet the monkey in me could never stop fidgeting even when i am overseas! 

Scenery that met us. At a peak of 180 meters (taller than bukit timah hill by the way) and a crater size that spanned 600 meters across, i was expecting more than just this despite a warning from the Great Kon.

It didn't help to have the sun directing its glare at us; making photo taking an extreme challenge for my amateurish photography skills.

Whatever the case, we didn't spend 40 minutes of our time with nothing to bring back! Just in case the photos didn't turn out well, it's best to take a gazillion of them! At least one would turn out well!

Like this one.

Even though it might not look much, the flora consisted of rare plant species; one of which cannot be found anywhere else in Korea except in the crater of Sunrise Peak! 

I would love to climb down for a more intimate session with the plants; if not for the barrier (was captured in the photograph) disallowing us from doing so. 

View from the peak with the ever popular sleeping giant; Mount Halla

You could continue to suntan at the spectators seating which was undergoing minor renovation (for likely accommodation of more seats). For us, it's time to "down a mountain"!

This reminded me so much of the stunning 99-turn road at Tian Men Shan except that was built for motor vehicles while this one was for humans! 

Both were extremely pleased to be on our way down!

Some unique rocks which didn't quite evoke my imagination on what they could be. Use your imagination and for all you know, voila, a legend is borne! 

Down the stairs versus up the stairs - which would you prefer? I realise it boils down to age; when i was younger, going down proved to be an adrenaline charged activity so exciting, i could do it umpteenth times. Now that i am older, that same activity would be considered too high a risk for me to break my ageing, brittle bone. 

A stone eagle! 

Joyce again. If i am not mistaken, she was pointing to the view which appeared too unreal to be true even though we were standing right in front of it!

Littering at nature reserves, national heritage spots etc is a common issue. I don't understand how come humans can be so lazy; it would not take much effort to hold on to their empty, light plastic bottles and dump them appropriately in a bin!

Coming to an end after climbing down for around 18 minutes.

Joyce's light footed exhilaration of knowing we would not be climbing another mountain again in Korea! After this trip, i think she has written off any mountain climbing for future overseas trips! 

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak has more than just the climb to the peak! 

Overlooking the cliff on our way to the House of Haenyeo

Checking out the House of Haenyeo where you can see the woman divers performing their incredible feat in diving deep into the sea to haul back seafood! Two timings were available in the afternoon; we missed it as we were too early!

No entry to the turf?!?!?! A great pity as it would be a nice place for a family to have picnic! Maybe that's the reason for not allowing people on the turf; maintenance would likely be hefty! 

Direction pointed to boating right ahead! 

Not sure what boating means since it was basically an observation deck for Cow Island (Udo); second largest island in Jeju province with a population of only about 370.

Finally back to the main entrance!

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Location
Seongsan, Eastern Jeju

Contact Number to Key in GPS
783-0959

Operating Hours 
Till 8 or 9pm (depending on seasons). Hence, i believe you can catch the sunset here too, which i might consider, if i ever return to Jeju-do! 

Map
As above.

Additional Information
There were loads of shops right outside of Sunrise Peak; i found many restaurants and there was even a good sized Nature Republic! For those who intend to get the Jeju Starbucks card, there is a Starbucks along this road! Click here for the details. 


For the summary of my South Korea trip 
(Seoul and Jeju Island), click HERE.

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