Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jeju Vacation: Day Three

[The second day, we had spent a lot of time getting to know the city and how to travel. It would not exactly help us a lot the next day... But we still got to check out an awesome waterfall that emptied into the ocean and a cool museum and park]

By the third day, we were determined to hang out at a beach. A sunset on the beach was one of Jackie's main goals. And since we had been in Jeju, we had been leaving the hostel later than noon. Because it was so sunny, we had horrible lighting for all our photos. That is unacceptable. Therefore, we woke up early, got ready and headed out on a longer journey to the northeast part of the island.



We decided to take a bus along the coast all the way to there because biking would take forever and also probably kill us. That would be a drag. After spending time trying to figure out the bus system using the Jeju bus English website (most of the features only work in Internet Explorer...) and Google Translate, we found out next to nothing. Finally, Jackie asked the gentleman at the front desk of the hostel for help. We had to go over to the bus terminal and buy a ticket. Then we waited. Waiting would end up being the theme for the day.

Sunrise Peak

When the bus finally arrived, we handed our tickets to the driver and took our seats. It was a charter bus that pretty much rides in a circle around the island. After awhile we ended up at our destination, Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong). It was cloudy and rain lightly fell. Walking to the entrance, we had to first cross through a neighborhood. I saw a man take a naked baby out, raise her legs while holding her from behind and let her defecate right on the curb. Then he laughed. It was disgusting. But that would be one of three creatures I would see defecate during the day.

Anyway, Sunrise Peak is an old volcanic crater. It is also an UNESCO World Heritage site. Greenery has overtaken the mass of land which once made up the volcano. The hike is rather easy. It's all stairs. We traveled a total of 1.24 miles and that is with wandering around for a bit. There were lots of people even though it was a weekday.



And horses. There were horse rides too. But they only went around in a circle... (Oh, and these guys were the second creatures I would see poop)
Along the way there are great photo opportunities. It seems like the entirety of Jeju Island is made up of places to take great photos. And we obliged. Oh, how did we ever. The top of the trail is, of course, another great vantage point.







After getting down from the crater, we walked down to the shore. There is a restaurant there and you can also take short, fun speedboat rides around the crater. I saw these bugs I had never seen before. They were a strange looking cockroach. All the rocks were covered in these things. Some of them got quite large too. But each time I stepped near them, they scattered.





Transportation to the Next Adventure

After hanging out at the shore for a bit, we decided to head to Micheon Cave south of Sunset Peak. The idea was to go there during the hot part of the day and then to spend the last part of the afternoon at the beach. It would not be easy however.

We figured the bus going the opposite way would take us to Ilchul Land, where the cave is located, because we had seen signs for it while going to Sunrise Peak. We had to wait for a long time for the bus. Then bus driver on the bus said he would take us near it. Good enough. We got on.

The bus dropped us off at a bus stop somewhere. I do not particularly know where. Apparently it is a town called Goseong. There he said to wait for a certain numbered bus. Each bus stop has a chart with the bus routes and a bunch of times on it. It looks like a spreadsheet. Some of the fields have a circle instead of a time. It is confusing and none of it is in English.

A taxi driver pulled up for a bit and saw we were having a hard time figuring it out. He told us there was no bus that would take us to Ilchul Land. Hearing that was frustrating to us because now we felt like the bus driver had been lying, and for no good reason. The seemingly nice taxi driver then showed his true colors. He would drive us to Ilchul Land for $15, no meter. We asked if he could use the meter (there is less of a chance that you get ripped off that way). He said he would not use it. We declined his offer.

Another bus came and we asked how to get there. He got out and said we had to wait 20 minutes for this other bus. We did. When we asked if that bus went to Ilchul Land, we learned it did not. Another taxi driver told us there was no bus there and offered to charge us $15, just like the other guy. We declined again.

Finally, a man and his daughter helped us. They were locals it seemed, but had a difficult time deciphering the chart. I was just glad we were not the only ones who could not do it. They told us which bus to take. And they were actually right!

We would have to make a transfer though. Luckily, even though the bus driver did not speak English, an extremely nice Korean-American, tall, bearded, jovial, helped translate and get us the correct instructions. After transferring, we made it, frustrated, tired, cranky, to Ilchul Land.

Ilchul Land/Micheon Cave

I figured Ilchul Land would be an amusement park. There are tons of specialty amusement parks and museums in Jeju. However, when we got there it seemed like more of a giant park. The walking areas are covered by trees and there are ponds. Getting to the cave took no time at all, but first we stopped for hot dogs. (The hot dogs come with cabbage on them, strangely enough)




After eating, we took a few steps and were staring down the mouth of the cave. It is a great cave. One of my absolute favorite places in the world is Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Now, this cave is nowhere near as awesome and expansive as Carlsbad Caverns, but it is pretty fun. You essentially walk forward for awhile and duck the periodic low ceilings. You will find some man made fountains and a...science exhibit (?) down there too. All in all, it was a good time. Most importantly though, it was not super hot. In fact, it was downright chilly. I loved it.





Yes! This sign says we'll have good luck for a year!



When we emerged from the depths of the cave, my glasses fogged up for a good two minutes. That caused us to laugh.

We finished laughing.

As we began to walk out, a greenhouse caught our attention. It was full of cactus! Oh wait, I do not like cactus; I do not like them, Sam I Am. Either way, it was interesting to see them as part of an exhibit at this park.




Animal Abuse


At this point we were having a good time and enjoying Ilchul Land. However, the next part we visited was not as fun. We exited the cactus house and entered an enclosure with chickens in one cage, rabbits in another and an ostrich in another. Each cage was not terribly large, which did not seem to bother the rabbits and chickens. The ostrich, though, seemed visibly distraught. It appeared to have pecked off the majority of its feathers on one side. As I looked at it, it ran fast towards me and ran into the cage. I am pretty sure it wanted to attack me. It tried later to run again, but there was really only room for one step. Ostriches run. I have seen them in the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico and they have some of the largest areas in that zoo. Neither of us, Jackie and I, could stand watching this animal being driven insane. (Also, we saw it defecate. Since there was no room, it was living in its own filth) We left Ilchul Land never wanting to go back.

I understand Korea does not have the same standards for animal rights, but there has to be an animal rights organization in the country somewhere, correct? They should hear about this place.



Notice all the missing feathers...

Pyoseon Beach

We left with a bad taste in our mouths. Up next we needed to relax. To the beach it was, Pyoseon Beach. This time we had to catch a cab. He used the meter though. It was not expensive at all. I tell you, do not ever get in a cab that will not use the meter. They know they can rip you off by turning it off.

Anyway, there was a festival going on the whole week. Bands and music. Food and fun. We arrived before anything had really started. There was a dj playing music and lots of people. We walked down to a bit of a secluded area and started to walk out to the water. I have never been in the ocean before. I did not know what to expect. Jackie is from Florida and grew up with the ocean. She said she had never seen an ocean where you had to walk so far to be deep in it.

I also do not know how to swim...

She tried to teach me. It did not go so well. I could not float, swim, hold my head under the water. It was an amazing failure for myself. So there was that.

It also took a long time for me to understand the concept of the beach and ocean, why someone would want to just be in the water for a long time. Jackie told me you got to relax, but I was worried about being bitten by the fish that were swimming around (I saw one fish when we got there. I do not mind fishing, but I want to bite them, not get bitten). Being up to my neck in water was also not comfortable for me. Not being able to move quickly was uncomfortable. It took a lot of patience and time for me to get used to everything. When I did we had a good time.

Eventually the sun began setting. The trash began coming in. I guess people there did not care about littering. Styrofoam began drifting all around me. Meh. That was our queue to go relax on the rocks. We sat there for a long time and watched the sun go down. It was nice.

On our way to Sunset Peak in the morning, we saw not only tons of small and large plots of land with special Jeju oranges growing on them, but also a good sized group of protesters walking down the street while singing. Their yellow shirts read "Peace is the way." It was great. Well, they came to the beach as the sun set. It was a nice bookend to the day.

 




The cab ride to the hostel was also inexpensive and also on the meter. We got to our room exhausted. The next day would be the best day of our vacation.
Enhanced by Zemanta