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Visiting Jeju Island Day 2 – Beaches, Temples, and Sailing Ships

Following the previous night’s shenanigans, the morning seemed relatively calm, especially if you weren’t hungover. Nicole and I were fine. We woke at 8 and greeted the day. After the usual morning routine we walked downstairs (the motel didn’t have an elevator) for breakfast. Breakfast was a cardboard box filled with muffins. We each grabbed one. They were pretty good. The rest of the tour group slowly stumbled downstairs. Several were fine, like ourselves, several more were nursing pretty bad hangovers from the night before. I was glad I didn’t stay out late drinking.

Hyeopjae Beach

Our first stop was at Hyeopjae Beach and a short bus ride away. Our very hungover tour leader, with some great effort, got out of his seat at the front of the bus and explained that we would have an hour to look around the beach and enjoy ourselves. He then promptly passed out on the beach using some of his clothing to make a small pillow for himself. The weather was cool but definitely not warm enough for the beach. Not this early in the day anyway. Despite the cool weather though the beach was really interesting. You could see the remains of a former lava flow leading from the beach down into the water. The flow had turned from lava back into rock centuries ago, but it left behind a cool rock formation of black ribbed rock. 

De Sperwer

Our next visit took us to De Sperwer and its neighboring attractions. Our tour bus parked in a small parking lot along the rocky shore of Jeju at what appeared to be a carnival, complete with one of those swinging ship rides like at Lotteworld. The small carnival had local vendors selling Jeju chocolates, which I bought for my family. Hey family!

Behind this little carnival was a replica of an old wooden sailing ship that washed ashore called ‘De Sperwer’, or the Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk was a Dutch sailing ship that washed ashore on Jeju about 350 years ago. Hendrick Hamel, the bookkeeper, and half his men survived the shipwreck and lived in Korea, forbidden to travel, for the next 13 years until they escaped back to the Netherlands. The replica of the ship that stands today in Jeju is a museum depicting the crews trials, tribulations, and lives in Korea. On the first floor of the museum there was even an anime-style documentary depicting their adventure.

After we left the ship we hiked up the mountainside to a stone tower on a cliff overlooking the sea. The towers were all over Jeju at one time. They used to warn the townspeople of incoming danger. If a guard saw danger at sea he would light his tower and the next tower over would light their tower and so on, like a domino effect spreading the message to everyone on Jeju.

Sanbanggulsa Grotto

Our last stop before boarding the bus and driving on was at Sanbanggulsa Grotto, a temple nestled into the side of Mt. Sanbangsan. The temple had several smaller buildings and pagodas at the base of the mountain, but the shrine was up several hundred stairs inside a natural cave in the mountain. We made it up to the top after quite a hike and stood in the shrine. Nicole climbed the steps to a natural spring inside the shrine and drank three sips. Supposedly it creates a long and prosperous life. I’ll keep you all updated.

Lunch

Our next stop was at the lunch factory. I would say restaurant but it was more of a factory. Sterile white interior, long rows of tables with benches. It was a cross between the Great Hall in Hogwarts and an operating room, also known as a cafeteria. The food was plentiful and delicious though.

Lunch Factory

Lunch Factory

Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls

After lunch we took our tour bus to Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls, a set of three massive waterfalls.The waterfalls are accessed by a series of wooden boardwalks that wind along the cliffside. The first, and widest, waterfall called “The 1st waterfall” is at the bottom of a set of stairs just inside the park. The waterfall is supposed to cure illness if you swim in it, although swimming is now prohibited. Our tour guide threw caution to the wind though and jumped in, along with several other members of the tour. I considered it. However, the water was colder than the icy hand of death, so I just took pictures.

The 2nd and 3rd waterfalls were further along the boardwalk path and were inaccessible. They could only be viewed from the boardwalk several hundred meters above them. After we checked out the waterfalls, we got to cross a giant bridge, Seonimgyo Bridge, across the falls. The view was incredible.

Jungmun Beach

I’ve visited a few beaches around Asia over the past two years. Most of them are just alright. Wando is nice and the beach in Taiwan was okay but they weren’t very impressive. Jungmun was a whole other story. The waves were gigantic, the sand was soft and powdery, the beach was in its own little alcove surrounded by beautiful cliffs. We stayed at the beach for an hour or so bodysurfing in the waves and relaxing on the soft sandy beach. It was one of my highlights from the day. If I ever return to Jeju, and I would like to, this will be one of my first stops.

Jusangjeolli Cliff

After we left the beach, the bus took us to Jusangjeolli Cliff. The cliff is part of a lava formation along the coast of Jeju. The cliff formed when Mt. Hallasan erupted into the sea of Jungmun. The cliff is made from hexagonal black rocks shaped so precisely that they look manmade. One particular part of the cliff has a small inlet that launches water into the air when water crashes against it, it reminded me of the geysers we saw in Iceland.

Cliff Diving

Our last stop of the day was to a small park on the coast of Jeju. Our tour bus drove through Jeju city and out the other side, down a long narrow road, and eventually off that road onto a small cliffside road leading down to a park on the water. We parked and our tour leader, led us down a narrow wooden boardwalk to a small inlet surrounded by small cliffs. It was the perfect place for cliff diving. There were several other foreigners already at the cliffs taking turns diving into the inlet. Our guide climbed the small cliff and dove in as well. Several other people from our trip joined in as well. The walk back to the bus led us down a path onto a cliff overlooking the ocean right at sunset. I got a few fantastic pictures before the bus took us back to the hotel.

We had a few minutes to change at the hotel before we left for downtown. Our tour took us to a restaurant called Baghdad, that served indian food. You’d think they would serve Iraqi food, but instead they had naan and tikka masala. The food was really good and it had been awhile since I last ate indian food. After dinner we took a cab back to the hotel and called it a night.

About the author Austin G

Bicycling, photography, running

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2 Comments

  1. […] Yesterday, our tour guide had informed us that there was a typhoon coming and that our lunchtime ferry was cancelled. Instead, we would be taking the last ferry out of Jeju early Sunday morning. So we all woke early, packed our things, and like the Jews leaving Egypt, boarded a tour bus for the ferry terminal. By the time we all boarded the bus, we were running pretty far behind schedule. We all knew it was going to be a close call getting to the ferry in time. If we missed this ferry, we would be stuck on Jeju until Monday, and 70ish English teachers would be late for their classes. Fortunately we made it to the ferry terminal with 30 minutes to spare. […]

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  2. I enjoyed this post very much and the pictures were wonderful! Would you or Nicole post the picture of Cole on the rocks on facebook so I can share it? She looks so beautiful to her grandmother! I’d like to make a copy of that one to replace some older photos. Your writing has tightened up so much! Your next project should be a book for Kindle …

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