Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bracing the Coldness of Late Winter Rain in Jeju Island

When I planned my first solitary travel mid of Year 2012, I specifically chose Jeju Island as the only place to spend my birthday week with the theme "Tour Around the World" literally in its miniature theme park, Soingook.  I can't afford yet to make that dream into reality in the actual places so I'd rather fulfill it in a miniature theme park first.  After all, small steps make big dreams happen.

Jeju Island was my second stop of the 10-day-solitary travel and  spent three nights and  and three days in Seogwipo City.  Seogwipo is stragetically the best place to explore  Jeju being the centerpoint to West Course, East Course and Jungmun Tourist District day tours that most travel agencies offer.  Commuter and airport buses pass through Seogwipo and many tourist spots are within the vicinity.  With that I made my own itinerary covering a little of West and East course. 
Jeju Island Map from Visit Korea website
West Course covers Hallim Park, Biyangdo Island, Geumneong Beach, Bunjae Artpia and O'Sulloc Museum for those who are fond of green tea.

West Course from Yeha Tour Website
East Course covers Manjanggul Cave, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Seongeup Folk Village, Sangumburi Crater and Trick Art Museum.

photo from yeha tour website
Jungmun Tourist Complex basically covers a lot of tourist destinations.  This is also the area where  many of the Korean dramas are set.  Initially, I made my own themed solitary itinerary in Jeju.  But the rain when I arrived in Jeju messed up my itinerary and overnight, I had to change it.

I should have spent my first day in Jeju in Soingok Theme Park to celebrate my birthday which I personally named as, "Birthday Tour Around the World", but it was an impossible to wander around an open park with the pouring rain.  I attempted to see the famous windmill and had my coffee at the pool of Lotte World but neither the weather gave me that opportunity.  Not to feel down on my birthday, instead I spent it  in Teddy Bear Museum, another place to see from the Korean Drama, Princess Hours.  A piece of my second theme, "Tour of K-Dramas Location in Jeju", was realized.

On my second day, the weather got better.  I started with a morning walk in Seogwipo and in just two hours before lunch, I visited Cheonjiyeon Falls and the famous Saeyeongyo Bridge on foot.  Three things off my bucketlist right away.

After my brunch, I went around in nearby spots in Jungmun Tourist District like the Chocolate Land, Ripley's Believe It or Not and Yeomji Botanical Garden before I finally headed to Soingook Theme Park. 

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Teddy Bear Museum

Chocolate Land
Looking at the map, I thought it's much nearer going to Soingook Theme Park by cab from Jungmun Tourist District than in Seogwipo.  I did not able to find any references of going to the miniature park via commuter bus so I decided to take a cab instead.  But it was farther than I expected. One way took me KRW8,500 and going back to Jungmun, the taxi fare was KRW10,000.  Anyhow, I enjoyed the place amidst the coldest winter air after the rain. 

The Statue of Libery, United States of America
Mount Rushmore Memorial, USA

Eiffel Tower, Paris
On my third day in Jeju, I initially had three destinations to go. First, to catch the sunrise at Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, then to take the ferry and ride an ATV to tour around Udo Island, and, finally to wrap up my day at Manjanggul Cave  and the Gimnyeong Maze Garden that most tourists akin with the maze in Harry Potter Movie Goblet of Fire.  However, the bus ride from Seogwipo to Seongsan already took almost three hours.  When I arrived at Seongsan at around nine in the morning,  the sky wasn't that bright and too late for sunrise already.  It was a bit foggy and impossible to see the sunrise at that state so I decided to head off to Udo Island until the sky was much clearer to climb the peak of Seonsan.

Driving around Udo Island is one of the highlights of my Solitary Travel. Not only that I was touring around on my own but was also able to record my trip around by just tying my camera to the tripod and wrapped it tightly in front of the ATV.  I was both fun and amazing! And I told myself, I should come back again.
The Welcome Banner upon arrival at the port of Udo Island

my toy in the island

After my driving experience, I went back to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak.  This time it was not climbing the peak to see the sunrise but rather grateful for the cool afternoon air while catching up my breath as I made it to the top of the crater.   It was exhilaratingly satisfying to finally had my time looking at the crater that measures 600m in diameter and 90m high  and actually looked like a salad bowl. 

UNESCO Heritage landmark of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak

at the bottom of the peak and the start of the trail with the STAR as the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong

the view from the top after XXX meters high

at the other side down the peak where the Women of Jeju share with the tourists how they dive and catch seafoods without any equipment
I went down the peak past four in the afternoon already and was already too late to see the Manjanggul Cave and the Gimyeong Maze Garden.  It will take me three more hours to get there and might be nightime to get back to Seogwipo.  I was also getting tired for such a physical activity for the day so I decided to finally end my trip in Jeju.

Three days in Jeju was not enough.  But it was enough for me to spend my birthday week in the Island that is also proclaimed as one of the New Wonders of Nature.  I missed to see the other places that I plotted in my itinerary - Odolgae Rock, Jeongbang Falls, Jeju City Hall, Love Land,  Jusanggeolli Cliffs, Cheonjeyeon Falls, and, Seonimgryo Bridge.  I also missed to do the other "Things to Do" in my list: - Olle Trail, Jeju Mandarin Orange picking, try the famous black pork barbeque, among others. 

As always, I left some places to see when I get back again.

And I ended my last night in Jeju Island with a sumptuous Korean meal at the Korean traditional meal.


kai lazarte said...

Hi where did you stay in Jeju? :)

Wanderer Claire said...

Hi Kai!

I stayed in Jeju Hiking Inn. Very nice place. It's few meters away from the bus stop and walking distance to the famous tourist spots in Seogwipo.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Claire,

How did you booked your flights to/from Jeju? online or thru your hostel or travel agency?

Thank you very much.

Wanderer Claire said...


I just booked online via EastarJet. You just check their website for promos.
It's much chepaer to arrange flights on your own. :-)