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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jeju Island, South Korea



Seoul to Jeju Island
Jeju Island: Manjanggul Cave and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak 


It was a very cold, windy morning when I crossed the empty street of Seoul with white smoke coming out of my mouth. I hurriedly walk my way to the Mrt Station to seek refuge from the weather. My original plan didn't involved visiting a nearby Island of Seoul named Jeju Island. It was formerly known as Cheju Island and its located off the southern coast of South Korea. A doctor I know convinced me of visiting this wonderful paradise, he said "If you're not going to Jeju Island might as well miss your flight." It got me thinking so decided to take a domestic flight to Jeju besides when I check the airfare it was surprisingly cheap. No regrets, It was the best part of my trip in Korea. 

Hongik University Station to Gimpo Airport
How to get there: Take AREX(Airport Express train) Light Blue Line to Gimpo International Airport (2 stations, 4 minutes).
Jeju Air Flight: Seoul-Jeju(07:00 - 08:10)
Ticket price: 51,200 won/66 SGD

I brought along a luggage with me as it was hard to carry my winter clothes in a backpack. I'm not used to it, it was bulky and  inconvenient. The Mrt station in Korea are massive, you will need to navigate your way carefully and be ready to carry your luggage on flight of stairs. Thou it was a great way to exercise my muscles as I'm doing a lot of trekking for the following days. Most of the ladies walking around wore heels top with thin leggings, it simply struck me how they manage to survive the cold plus the endless walks in the station. I on the other hand was not even close to being fashionable, I laughed at the thought of that. What matters most to me is that I'm comfortable with what I wear and I smell. I'm more concerned with my luggage which I carry in all my transfers, its such a pain in my head especially when there's always a mob in the Mrt stations . I simply want to get away from the city crowd and be in Jeju Island right away. The moment I arrived in the Island there was only a few people in the airport, even in the bus terminal. I love the countryside feeling, now a days I'm more withdrawn to society and I prefer to be with nature. I'm becoming a hermit , I might as well leave in a Hobbit hole in New Zealand. Hopefully someday I can link this post to my New Zealand trip. 

Gimpo Airport to Yeha Guesthouse
How to get there: 
By Bus (about 10-15mins) 
Total Fare : 1,200KRW
Take the number 100 bus at gate no.2 of the 1st floor, Jeju airport and get off at Hankook hospital (next to Jeju bus terminal). From there, it is a 1 minute-walk.
Or By Taxi (about 5-10mins) 
Fare : 4,500KRW-5,000KRW
Take a short distance taxi and show the printout of detailed direction to the guesthouse on the website or let him know the phone number.

Check in Yeha Guesthouse (Estimated Arrival: 9 am)
Address : 9, Samo-gil, Jeju-si Jeju Special Self-Governing Province South Korea, 690-812 Tel. 070-4012-0084/064-724-5506
3 days 2 nights for 38,000 won
Deposit: 8,000 won 
Balance pay on arrival 30,000 won
(Toiletries Small towel, hair drier, tissue Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and Breakfast provided).

Yeha Guesthouse is 3 minutes away from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal by foot. Getting around Jeju was not a problem, all the tourist routes   were posted on a board below the bus numbers. When you hop inside the bus there's a small TV screen which tells everyone each bus stop name in English and Hangul. It was a piece of cake! Upon arriving in the guesthouse I've deposited my luggage in the counter and immediately walked back to Jeju bus terminal. 

Check Bus number routes: http://jejuhomestay.blogspot.sg/2014/06/how-to-access-jeju-tour-spots-by-public.html

Jeju Bus Terminal to Manjanggul Cave
How to get there: 
From Jeju-si Jeju Bus Terminal proceed to platform or post number 4 and take Bus 701. Take the Donghoe Line Intercity Bus to get off at the parking lot near Manjanggul Cave Entrance. Travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.At the parking lot, take a town bus bound for Manjanggul or a taxi for 2,000 won-4,000 won or take a 20 minutes walk to Manjanggul Cave Entrance. 

My planned route for that day is to check out the East Course of Jeju, specifically Manjanggul Cave and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. I prefer to see the cave before going to the peak, light after dark, it was more of the distance actually and the bus availability at that time. Heading to the peak first is possible too, its farther than the cave and you can avoid the long travel back to the Jeju Bus terminal. The bus drop off is a bit farther away from the cave entrance, you can either walk or take a cab/taxi, I was lucky to be there when two tourist were bargaining with a taxi driver, the driver asked me to come along to pay at a minimal fee. All three of us paid 2,000 won for the ride to the Manjanggul Cave Entrance. 

Manjanggul Cave
Address: 182 Manjanggul-gil, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Phone:+82 64-710-7903
Opening hours: Summer season 09:00-18:00 / Winter season 09:00-17:30
Entrance fee: Adults – 2,000 won / Youth – 1,000 won / Children – 1,000 won

The cave was beautiful,cold and massive. I stand fascinated with the expansive space that sit still below the ground. Manjanggul Cave is considered as the longest lava tube in the world. It stands 5 meters wide, between 5 to 10 meters high and is over 13 kilometers long. I spent an hour walking back and forth inside the cave, I wanted to see everything what's down there. There was a point where I was walking by myself, that creep me out a little bit yet I continued walking. Everytime I see another tourist explorer I would wave and smile at them, thou they're really not that friendly. I sang a song when no one is around, the echo simple ticks me off which really makes me laugh like a lunatic. Here I am still entertaining myself. When you're traveling alone you simply do silly things to keep yourself amused of your surroundings. At the end of my trail I've meet a few 'ajumma' or old ladies in Korea, they were kind enough to take my picture and in return I took their group picture as well. I've totally forgot to take a picture with them. I love taking pictures with strangers everytime I travel be with a group or on my own , I like to see them on my camera roll to remind myself who showed me the right way, gave a kind gesture and just a reminder who I've met in my travels. Afterwards, I made my way back to the outside world, drop by at the nearest convenient store, bought a drink and made my way back to the bus stop where I alighted. 

Manjanggul Cave to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak 
How to get there:
Take the same Bus 701. Alight at a nearby bus stop near the Inchulbong Entrance, it's a few meters walk away. Infront of the bus stop look for Dosirak Guesthouse, a bit on your left side. Once you see it cross the street and follow that road beside the guesthouse, continue walking straight and turn right. Right away the stairway to heaven appears right before your very eyes. 

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak 
Address: Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Phone:+82 64-783-0959
Open daily: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. in winter, 4 a.m.-10 p.m. in summer, except in bad weather 
Admission: Age 24-64: 2,000 won 
Age 7-23: 1,000 won / 65 and over
Age 6 and under: Free 

I didn't exactly know where the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, people passingby were even confused when I asked for directions. I'm glad I was equipped with a GPS DNA ahahaa. By instinct I crossed the street I figured that a crater would not be standing nearby a road. An old couple meet my gaze and I shouted out with a smile powering up all my linguistic genes to ask for directions. Guess what they were just at the peak, they pointed the way with a big flash of white teeth on their faces. Before heading straight to the peak entrance I went to a nearby restaurant for a traditional Korean meal. It was the best mackerel fish I've ever tried, its soft, fragrant and flavor. It was served with rice, delicious soup and different kinds of side dishes. I've always loved Korean food and I respected it even more when I got to try the authentic taste. Time and effort is much needed to create the meal. I salute the peoples patience and dedication in maintaining the taste of Korean food. 


Merry and glee I made my way up to the peak. The stairs was a challenge and I loved it because the following day I've planned to climb Mt. Hallasan. Don't focus on the flight of stairs as it well get more tiring, look at the view, with every step I make I had a grandeur view of Jeju Island. I try to avoid booking tour packages, I'm that kind of a person where I don't want people leading me and giving me orders especially not on my vacation. Travel not just for the tourist spot, enjoy and experience a different side of the world you're used to. Everyone was trying to get there as fast as they can, I on otherhand took my own sweet time, taking it all in and smiling in delight. I find myself weird sometimes, I can be at a place for a long time staring at the same view and be still. Even my friends finds my one song playlist for a 10 km run bizarre. Let's embrace our weirdness, appreciate our strange ideas and be happy about it.

Going down was a breeze, the wind came through and the clouds shaded the way. I walked around the coast just on the other size of the peak, caught a glimpse of the ajumma divers and made my way back to the bus stop. Ajumma Divers also called as the Mermaids of Jeju, are old female ladies aged 60-70 years old dress in simple black suits to fight the cold water and holds their breath underwater to catch seafood using netted nylon baskets.

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak back to Jeju Bus Terminal
How to get there:
Go back to the Bus stop area where you alighted but this time take the Bus from the Other side of the street. The bus that runs back to Jeju Bus Terminal is just a few steps away from the opposite road. 



Winter season has longer nights so I intend to be back early in the guesthouse before it gets dark and when the temperature drops. 

(Nearby: Bijarim Forest, Jeju Stone Park, Sangumburi Crater, Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest, Eco Land Theme Park, Saryeoni Forest Path, Gyorae Natural Recreation Forest).

While I was waiting in the bus stop I've noticed the cutest thing, there's a box of mandarin oranges on sale, an honesty box where you leave the money inside the box and you purchased the oranges and go. It really put a smile on face, I was about to buy one for myself but then the bus came, a simple thing that really made me smile all the way back to the terminal. Another good thing when I arrived back to the city was that my guesthouse offers happy hour where everyone can get a bottle of beer or juice drink for free. 

Timeline: 9:30 am Jeju terminal to Mangangul Cave arrived around 11 am, explore and out at the cave by 12:30 noon, bus to Seongsan Peak arrived 1 pm, 1:30 after lunch ,2-4 pm hike up and down, bus back to jeju terminal 4 pm, arrived in terminal around 6:30 pm. 


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