Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 6 (31 Oct 19) – Gyeongju: Taking a Walk Back in Time and the Iconic Bulguksa Temple

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Our journey from Busan to Gyeongju

We headed out early to Gyeongju from Busan at 7 am today as we wanted to leave the city before the rush hour kicks in. The drive to Gyeongju usually would take 1 hr via the highway, which is very straight forward, however it took us around 1½ hrs to reach Gyeongju. Around 45 mins into the journey, we spotted Eonyang rest area and stopped for a break. At Eonyang Rest Area, we had our brunch as we were a little hungry. After brunch, we continued the rest of the journey to Gyeongju.

Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village – A Walk back in Time

Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village has very well preserved and restored traditional Korean houses (hanok). The village once lived a wealthy man (Choi) who used his wealth to help the poor in the region. The village was later converted to at the first state-operated academy estate in 682. We chose to visit this village as it is close to other sites in Gyeongju. Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village is not difficult to find, the village is very close to the edge of the city, near the toll gates by the highway when turning Gyeongju exit. There is a car park opposite Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village which was not crowded at the time of our visit as it is was being early at the time of our visit. The parking and entrance to Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village are free. We reached Gyeongju at around 9.50am and the shops are not open until 10am. As we hang around the entrance to Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village while waiting for the shops to open, we spotted a tour group with their guide explaining the village. We inched closer to them hoping to get some insights to the village. The tour guide pointed only three buildings that were worthy to visit namely Choi’s house, The School of Law and the Confucian School. The rest of the buildings are shops. We crossed reference with the map we had in hand and made mental note of where these locations are. One of the things we set out to do before coming to South Korea is to try out wearing the hanbok and walk around in a historic place. Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village is the perfect place to do that. We rented hanboks from the only hanbok rental shop in the village once it opened. After wearing our rental hanboks, we roamed around Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village taking pictures. Initially, we felt a little ridiculous and certainly feel touristy, we got used to wearing hanbok after a while as hanbok is still worn by Koreans from time to time. The whole village gives one a feel of travelling back in time. Every building in Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village is a hanok. However, we were a tad disappointed that these hanoks have been converted to places of business, mainly restaurants and cafes. We would think there would be museums and exhibition halls in these hanoks to introduce to visitors the Korean culture and the livelihood of people in the Silla Dynasty, something similar to Jeju Folk Village we visited a few days ago.

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We changed into our handbooks and ready to walk around Gyeongju Gyocho Village

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Posing in Gyeongju Gyocho Village in our handbooks

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My friend in her hanbok in Gyeongju Gyocho Village

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Me in Gyeongju Gyocho Village in hanbok

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My friend in Gyeongju Gyocho Village in his hanbok

As we were walking, we spotted a building with its door open and also the tour group we met at the entrance earlier on. We followed the group into the building and learnt from the guide that this is one of the three buildings that are worth visiting. This is the house of Choi Family which is donated by his descendants to allow visitors to understand the Korean history. Without the explanation from the tour guide, we would have no idea about the significance of this house. The compound of the house is on the small side, however, it has everything that functions as a home here. There is even an area where urns for fermentation of kimchis are kept. Visiting Choi’s house in hanbok certainly feels we are taking a step back in time.

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Entrance to the House of Choi

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Me in the House of Choi

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My friend in House of Choi

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My friend in House of Choi in her hanbok

Woljeonggyo Bridge – The Impressive Bridge

Leaving the Choi Family’s house, we headed towards the river for our next stop – Woljeonggyo Bridge, which is about 5 mins walk from the house. Woljeonggyo Bridge is built in 760, the covered bridge built over Muncheon Stream is believed to be the oldest stone bridge in South Korea. The bridge remained standing for over five centuries and was destroyed subsequently. The bridge was restored based on the stone foundations over a period of 10 years. We were glad that the restoration of Woljeonggyo Bridge was completed and opened for visitors at the time of our visit. Woljeonggyo Bridge is the Donggung Palace is painted in colourful traditional Korean colours that one would find in their palaces. Woljeonggyo Bridge has two two-storey bridge towers on each side of the stream. These towers are decked out in mahogany red topped with bright green roofs. Taking pictures of Woljeonggyo Bridge with our hanboks makes one really feel stepping into the past. We approached the bridge towers and discovered there are two steep staircases on either side of the entrance to the bridge, that seem to lead to the upper level of the tower. We thought we might get a good view of the surroundings on the top of the tower. My friends and I climbed up one of the stairs to reach the top level of the tower to find an empty space less a historic map of Gyeongju. The wooden windows on the top level of the tower are closed making looking out to the surroundings not possible. We headed down the staircase and went to the middle of the bridge to take some pictures. Taking pictures here in our hanboks with the numerous pillars lining across the bridge makes the pictures Instagram worthy. The mid part of the bridge looks out into Muncheon Stream and the mountains surrounding Gyeongju. There is a sense of peace and harmony here.

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Bridge tower of Woljeonggyo Bridge

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Wefie at the bridge tower of Woljeonggyo Bridge

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My friends looking out to Muncheon Stream on Woljeonggyo Bridge

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Muncheon Stream from Woljeonggyo Bridge

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Is she playing hide and seek?

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The bridge tower of Woljeonggyo Bridge

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My friend on Woljeonggyo Bridge

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My friend on Woljeonggyo Bridge

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Wefie on Woljeonggyo Bridge

Gyerim Forest and the Royal Tombs – Peace and Tranquil Stroll

Leaving Woljeonggyo Bridge, we headed back towards Gyeongju Gyochon Village and instead of going inside the village, we skimmed the village and walk towards Gyerim Forest, making our way to Cheomseongdae. The forest is thickly populated with zelkova and willow trees. Gyerim Forest is believed to be the birthplace of the founder of the Gyeongju Kim clan, one of the most important clans in the Silla period in Korean history. The walk through the forest was very peaceful and the trees provided shade for us from the sun. At the end of the forest, we spotted some mounds springing out over the flatland, cordoned off by fences made of rope. These are the tombs of past kings in the Silla period. One of these tombs lies the body of King Naemul, the 17th monarch of the Silla Kingdom (in power from 356 to 402) and became the second king of the Kim family name. As we did not get closed to the tombs, we have no way to differentiate which tomb belongs to which royalty.

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The Royal Tombs in Gyeongju

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Us with the Royal Tombs in Gyeongju

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More Royal Tombs

Cheomseongdae

After taking some pictures with the royal tombs, we headed over to Cheomseongdae, the astronomy observation tower. This 9m bottle-shaped stone tower built on a square base has a cylindrical shape and topped off with a square opening structure. Cheomseongdae was built between the period of 632 to 647 to observe the movements of the stars and was thought to be the oldest existing astronomical tower in East Asia. As we were not able to climb up the tower, we left after taking some pictures with it.

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Cheomseongdae Tower

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Taking a wefie with Cheomseongdae

Donggung and Wolji Pond – The Secondary Palace

From our Naver map app, it seems that our next destination, Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond is very close to Cheomseongdae. The walk between these two sites took us around 10 mins through the vast field. Entrance to Donggung Palace costs KRW3,000 per person, unlike the five big palaces in Seoul, entrance is not free despite wearing hanbok here. Donggung Palace is a secondary palace used by the crown prince back in its heyday during the Silla period. It is also used as a banquet site to host important national events and VIPs back in those days. After the fall of the Silla dynasty, the palace was abandoned and forgotten. Entering the fence that cordons off Donggung Palace, we were faced with an empty plot of land with three standalone pavilions, each standing in one corner of the palace grounds. Our first impression here is a tad disappointing as we were expecting to see some palace buildings and not pavilions. Nonetheless, we headed to the pavilion closest to the entrance and got a glimpse of Wolji Pond, which look like a normal pond with some lotus leaves in it. The first pavilion was empty and we were not impressed by it. We headed to the second pavilion further into the Donggung Palace grounds. Here we learnt more about the original palace building from a model of the palace in its heyday. We started to get impressed by the palace based on the model. We stayed here a bit more to look out into Wolji pond and the third pavilion. We did not bother going to the third pavilion as it looked empty. My friends and I then walked around trying to piece together where the main palace building was based on the model we saw. From the model and walking on the actual palace grounds, we thought the palace is a tad small. I have seen pictures of Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond at night, I thought visiting the palace at night would be the best due to the lighting. We did not spend too much time here at Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond and left for the hanbok shop to return our hanbok.

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First Pavilion in Donggung Palace facing Wolji Pond

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My friend in her handbook at Donggung Palace

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Second  and third pavilion in Donggung Palace

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Second Pavilion in Donggung Palace up close

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Taking a wefie with the second pavilion in Donggung Palace

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Model of the Donggung Palace in its heyday

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My friend in the second pavilion in Donggung Palace

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Looking out into Wolji Pond from the second pavilion

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There used to be a palace building on this empty land in Donggung Palace

Bulguksa – The Historic Temple with a Character

After returning our hanbok, my friends and I headed to the city of Gyeongju to have lunch. It is a 20 mins drive to Bulguksa Temple from Gyeongju City. Entrance to Bulguksa Temple, which was built in 751, costs KRW5,000 per person and parking at the temple car park would set one back by KRW1.000 per vehicle. The large temple that seems to be built in the middle of the forest and is designated as a National Monument in South Korea due to the unique technique used to build the stone gateways in the 8th century. Most of the buildings in Bulguksa Temple was destroyed during the Japanese invasion and was reconstructed after years of excavation and research to its original looks. After getting our tickets, we walked up a slope and headed to the trio stoned icons of the temple and Gyeongju. These three stoned structures consist of two stairways, namely Anyangmun on the left and Jahamun on the right, as well as a pavilion – Beomyeongru in the centre. The stone stairways and the pavilion looked ancient and give off a vibe that they have been stood the test of time. If only these structures can talk, they will have so many stories to tell over the centuries they have been standing in Bulguksa Temple. The trio stone structures are especially charming in autumn and make very good Instagram photos. In front of these iconic stone structures lies a large courtyard, where most of the visitors to Bulguksa Temple gathers to take pictures with the iconic stone structures. To preserve the building, these stone structures are out of bounds to visitors.

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Wefie at the entrance of Bulguksa Temple

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Bell pavilion in Bulguksa Temple

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The iconic Anyangmun, Beomyeongru and Jahamunn in Bulguksa Temple

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Beomyeongru and  in the far right Jahamunn in Bulguksa Temple

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The bell pavilion of Beomyeongru up close

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Jahamunn up close

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Wefie in front of Jahamunn

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Wefie at the courtyard in front of Anyangmun, Beomyeongru and Jahamunn in Bulguksa Temple

After taking some pictures, my friends and I went around the building where the entrance is located and headed into the temple grounds. Passing through the side door, we were met with a relatively large courtyard. The first thing that caught our eyes in this courtyard is a stone stupa and a five-tiered pagoda, as though functioning as guards for the building behind it. Sitting at the back of this courtyard with a sense of authority is a  wooden building decked in yellow paint. This building is Daeungjeon where a large Buddha is installed. The underside of the roof is decorated with elaborate wooden patterns with murals of Buddhas painted on each panel. We went into Daeungjeon to offer our prayers to the Buddha. Facing Daeungjeon is Jahamun with the stone staircase leading to the bottom part of the temple. The staircase is being cordoned off. Looking out at the temple grounds below facing the courtyard gives one a sense of peacefulness despite it being crowded with visitors. My friends and I find Jahamun to be a very good spot to take pictures of this piece of history.

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The stone stupa and pagoda guarding Daeungjeon

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Daeungjeon sitting at the back of the courtyard seemingly with a sense of authority

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Stone pagoda in front of Daeungjeon

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Wefie with Daeungjeon

After some pictures at Jahamun, we proceed back to the courtyard and headed to the left Daeungjeon where another door leads us to yet another courtyard. In the middle of this courtyard sits another wooden building also decked in yellow paint. This building is Geungnakjeon, which houses another statue of Buddha. Geungnakjeon is much smaller than Daeungjeon and the crowd here is thinner. Unlike Daeungjeon, there are no stupas or pagodas in the courtyard of Geungnakjeon. Similar to Jahamun, the stone stairways leading to Anyangmun is cordoned off. However, Anyangmun is another place where visitors can take good pictures. We left Geungnakjeon shortly after offering our prayers to the Buddha installed inside it.

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Geungnakjeon sitting in the middle of the courtyard

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My friend at Anyangmun

As we were walking out of the side entrance of the Geungnakjeon, we spotted a small building that seems to be tucked in one corner of Bulguksa Temple. What captivated us was the bright red maple leaves on the trees in front of this building. We could not resist taking pictures with the beautiful tree in its autumn attire.

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The building with bright red and yellow autumn foliage in Bulguksa Temple

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We can’t resist taking a wefie with the beautiful autumn trees

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Me in front of the entrance of the building with red autumn leaves

As we were walking around the temple grounds of Bulguksa Temple, we were more captivated by the red autumn leaves on the trees. We spotted a Japanese looking structure. Curious we went up and take a look and to find out why is there a Japanese structure here in South Korea. This structure houses the Bulguksa Temple Museum. We did not enter the museum as it would cost us extra to enter. We decided that we had covered most of Bulguksa Temple and headed straight to the exit to our next destination.

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Autumn in Bulguksa Temple

Back to Busan

We originally planned to visit another temple in Gyeongju, we scrapped the idea in view of the time. Instead, we headed back to Busan and drove to Oryukdo Skywalk while we still have the use of the car. Before we set out, we did an online search and came to know that the skywalk closes at 6.30pm. Based on Naver map app, it would take use around 1½ hr to reach Oryukdo Skywalk, which we will still be able to make it before it closes. We reached Oryukdo Skywalk at 5.45pm and it is already dark in Busan. After parking our car, we headed to the skywalk entrance and found it to be closed. There is a sign posted at the entrance that stated the skywalk closes at 5.30pm during autumn. We were a tad disappointed and headed back to Busan Train Station to return the car.

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View of Busan at night from Oryukdo Skywalk car park

Dinner at Jagalchi Market

After returning the car, we were deciding what to have for dinner (I usually don’t plan for food for my trips). My friend suggested having octopus sashimi for dinner, one of the things that we did not try out the last time we came to South Korea three years back. Since we are already at Busan, where the seafood is cheap and abundant, we headed to Jagalchi Market – the largest seafood market in South Korea. The subway ride from Busan to Jalgachi Market took us 20 mins and from the subway station, it is a mere 5 mins walk to the market. Jagalchi Market is a large building that one cannot miss. The ground floor of the market is filled with stalls selling live seafood, while the second level is where all the restaurants are located. As we were walking up the stairs to the second level, we were approached by the staffs of one of the restaurants. We settled for the restaurant and started to order our food. Our purpose is to try the octopus sashimi which the tentacles are still moving despite being chopped into pieces, and that is one of the things that we ordered. Eating the octopus was not as bad as I thought, the tentacles just went down my throat without much difficulty. It just tasted of sashimi. I thought the food is a little pricey as we spent around SGD180 for the three of us. Thinking that we might we be ripped off, we took a walk around to compare the prices of the other restaurants. We found that the prices in all the restaurants are the same. As we are tired after a full day of walking around in Gyeongju, we headed back to the hotel to rest after dinner.

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Jagalchi Market in Busan

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Ready to tuck in for dinner

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Eating the octopus sashimi is a unique experience in South Korea

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The ground level in Jagalchi Market consists of stalls selling live seafood

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 5 (30 Oct 19) – Tongyeong and Geoje in Gyeongsangnam-do: The Naples of Asia

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Our road trip to Tongyeong and Geoje in Gyeongsangnam-do

Journey to the Naples of Asia – Tongyeong and Geoje

We started our day early today again. We set off from Busan at 7.30 am partly due to the long drive from Busan to Tongyeong and partly to avoid the morning rush hour in Busan. The plan is to visit Tongyeong first as it is further away from Busan, followed by Geoje before returning to Busan. The drive to Tongyeong from Busan takes around 3½ hrs. My biggest worry about driving on this trip is Busan. I read that Busan has narrow roads and traffic jams are very common. Having little experience in left-hand drive, I figured we should leave early. The traffic condition was light at the time we set off, however as we drove westwards towards Tongyeong, traffic starts to build up. It is still manageable. About 1 hr into the journey, we are already out of the city of Busan. Our GPS app led us to drive on the bridge and tunnels that pass through several islands, with amazing scenery. About 1½ hrs into the journey, after passing the first bridge over the sea, we spotted a sign that points to Gadeok Ocean Park rest area. This is a good time for me to take a break and for us to grab some snacks. We found a statue of Le Petit Prince at the back of the building facing the surrounding sea and the best thing is there is no one queuing up to take pictures with it. I told my friends I thought Gamcheon Culture Village is the only place that has this statue. We also discovered a small park behind the rest area building that overlooks the sea dotted with small islands afar. It feels very peaceful looking out while the sea breeze gently brushes against our faces. There is a pavilion here for visitors to rest or even picnic while looking out into the sea. After getting our food and coffee we continued driving to Tongyeong. We drove on Geogadaegyo Bridge that links the several islands in this region together.

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The blue sky and the calm sea makes this scenery feels peaceful

Tongyeong – The Port City of Islands

Mireuksan and the Longest Cable Car in South Korea

We drove for another 2 hrs to finally reach our first destination in Tongyeong, Mireuksan. Mireuksan is one of South Korea’s top 100 mountains which boasts a view of the numerous islands in the surrounding. To get to the summit of Mireuksan, we did not have to trek like we did in Hallasan. Here we embarked onto our third experience on this trip, riding on South Korea’s longest cable car system. The cable car ride costs KRW10,000 per person for a return ride. Tongyeong Hallyeosudo Cable Car is 1,975m long and 10 mins ride whisks us to the summit station of Mireuksan. As the cable car hovers above the thick forest of Mireuksan beneath us, I can’t help but wonder the hike up Mireuksan would be tedious if not for this cable car system. The higher the cable car climbs up Mireuksan, the more we get to see the magnificent view of the surroundings. We got a good glimpse of the entire Port City of Tongyeong and islands beyond Tongyeong from the cable car ride. This got us excited about the view of Hallyeosudo islands from the summit of Mireuksan.

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Riding the cable car allows us to see the surroundings

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View of the Port City of Tongyeong from the cable car

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View from the cable car

The cable car calls into the summit station, exiting the station, we already got a good view of the surroundings. We could see the numerous islands dotting all over the bay. The clear blue cloudless sky seems to merge with the sea, if not for the islands we would not be able to differentiate the sky from the sea. The walk up to the summit of Mireuksan is very easy. The path is well built and consists of a series of well-paved steps with up and down ways well segregated to prevent congestion. At one point up to the summit, the pave splits into two. The path up to the summit is a loop, it does not matter which way we go as we will end up on the summit anyways. We chose the path on the route, where it took us to the viewpoint of the Great Battle of Hansan. The viewpoint of the Great Battle of Hansan is a short way down from the main pathway. Standing at the top of the pathway, the view here is liberating, the islands in the surroundings looked like jewels spreading all over the bay. My friend and I headed down to the viewpoint, other than the surroundings, we could also see the summit cable car station we were at a few minutes ago.

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View of Hallyeosudo from the cable station

We continued our way to the summit of Mireuksan and reached Sinseondae Viewpoint. The view from Sinseondae viewpoint is the best on Mireuksan. This is where we got the full view of the entire Hallyeosudo area. The view here is simply breathtaking! It is a very short walk from Sinseondae to the summit of Mireuksan. Mireuksan is 461m above sea level and at the summit, there is a tablet marking the summit of the mountain. The summit offers a 360° view of the entire area, including a view of the Port City of Tongyeong and beyond. It was a tad crowded at the summit, looking around, I realised we were the only foreigners here at the summit of Mireuksan.

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View from the summit of Mireuksan

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At the summit of Mireuksan

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View of Hallyeosudo from the summit of Mireuksan

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The view at the summit of Mireuksan is stunning

After taking more pictures at the summit and at the Sinseondae viewpoint, we headed back to the cable car via the other route. Coming down from the summit of Mireuksan, the only other viewpoint on this route is the Sea Battle of Dangpo Viewpoint. From this viewpoint, we see more of the mountain ranges below Mireuksan and a small glimpse of the sea. Despite not as impressive as the view from the summit of Mireuksan, the view here is still breathtaking with some islands spreading across the sea below. It is another 5 mins to walk back to the cable car station, where we took the cable car back to the base station and head on to our next destination.

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Sea Battle of Dangpo Viewpoint

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View at Sea Battle of Dangpo Viewpoint

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One last wefie on Mireuksan before heading down

Dara Park

Our next destination in Tongyeong is Dara Park, which is located south of Mireuksan. The drive to Dara Park took us about 20 mins. Along the way, we spotted a car stopping by the side of the road. Curious we also stopped behind the car and spotted an unmarked lookout that offers a great view of the bay below. From here we were able to see some of the islands off the coast of Tongyeong. There seems to be some sort of farm in the sea near the coast. We were glad to have stopped here (thanks to the car we spotted when driving) as this unmarked lookout is totally Instagram worthy. After taking some pictures, we continued our drive to Dara Park. We parked our car at the nearby paid car park and walked to the entrance of Dara Park. There is a restaurant at the entrance, however, it looks deserted. It is here that we found out there are some parking lots that in front of the restaurant that we could have parked for free. Entrance to Dara Park is free. The walk from the entrance to Dara Park takes around 3 mins and at the end of the walk, there is a single bench that looks out into the bay. We were a tad disappointed with the view of Dara Park. We could only see a small portion of the bay and some islands in the sea, mainly due to Dara Park is not situated in an elevation high enough to offer an unobstructed view of the bay and partly due to the view being blocked by the vegetation between the park and the sea. People usually come to Dara Park for sunset and I have no doubt we would be able to see some beautiful sunset today due to the cloudless sky. I did not plan to come here during sunset as the drive back to Busan from Dara Park would take us around 3 hrs. We left soon after taking some obligatory photos.

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Partial view of the bay at Dara Park

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My friends checking their mobile phones on the bench at Dara Park

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Geoje – The Blue City and South Korea’s Second Largest Island

After spending the morning on the island of Tongyeong, we headed over to South Korea’s second-largest island, Geoje where we stopped by three sites on this island.

Mundong Waterfall

When I was planning for this trip, I chanced upon a waterfall on the island of Geoje between our previous stop Dara Park and our next stop Sinseondae Platform. According to my planning on Naver Map app (South Korea’s Google Map equivalent), we would have some time for this waterfall. The drive from Dara Park to the entrance of Mundong Waterfall took us 1 hr pass the city of Tongyeong. Driving to the entrance of Mundong Waterfall requires some caution as part of the road became a one-laned road cater for traffic going in and coming out. Fortunately, no cars were plying along this road when we were there. Entrance and car parking at Mundong Waterfall is free. After parking our car, we followed the signs (in Korean, and we roughly knew it is the way to the waterfall) and made our 7 mins walk to the waterfall. My friends and I were shocked when we reached the waterfall. There was hardly any water falling from the waterfall. We only saw a small stream of water flowing down from the cliff on top, as if someone had forgotten to turn off the tap. The among of water is so little that we could walk on the almost dried up stream beneath the waterfall. On the plus side, we could get really close to the waterfall. I guess we were not in season to see the waterfall, no wonder there was hardly anyone when we walked in from the car park. Rather than feeling disappointed, we took this opportunity to lighten ourselves by taking some silly photos. We left Mundong Waterfall for our next stop after spending 3 mins here.

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Instead of a waterfall, we only saw a small stream of water flowing down at Mundong Waterfall

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My friend reaching out to the small stream of water from Mundong Waterfall

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It is so dried up that we can walk on the river bed

Sinseondae Platform

The drive to Sinseondae Platform on Geoje takes us around 45 mins. Along the way, we passed by Gucheon Reservoir. The scenery of the reservoir is so nice that we stopped on the side of the road and took some pictures with it. Gucheon Reservoir is surrounded by mountains that make this reservoir looks more like a picturesque lake instead of a reservoir.

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Gucheon Reservoir looks more like a lake than a reservoir

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Me at Gucheon Reservoir

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My friend at Gucheon Reservoir

We continued our drive to Sinseondae Cliff Observatory car park and was disappointed to learn that the area was closed for some works when we arrive. We tried to make good of the situation by getting close enough to the side of the cliff without encroaching into the work area. My friends and I decided to take some pictures and then bunk off to our next destination. Just when we were about to leave, we spotted afar there seem to be a route that we can walk down to Sinseondae Platform and there are some people at the platform. Not giving up, we turned off our GPS app and drove along the road towards where we spotted people going down to the beach. Not wanting to miss the beach, we spotted a small parking lot in front of Angel in Us Cafe and parked our car there. We then walked across the road to the entrance of Haegeumgang Theme Museum that looked abandoned where we spotted a pathway that leads to the beach. Following the pathway, we reached Sinseondae Platform which is essentially huge rocks that extends into the sea. The view from Sinseondae Platform is amazing as we were literally standing on the sea looking out into a scene with islands and mountains popping out from the sea. It is around sunset at the time of our visit, making this place looks picturesque. The walk onto the rocks is a small adventure itself as we were exploring which rock we can walk onto to get as close to the sea and yet gives us a vantage view of the surroundings. Although these rocks, eroded by the forces of nature, seems uneven they are very safe to walk on as most of the top of the rocks are flat.

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This is the closest we can get at Sinseondae Cliff Observatory

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Taking a wefie at Sinseondae Cliff Observatory

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Taking a wefie on the way to Sinseondae Platform

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My friend at the path to Sinseondae Platform

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View from the path to Sinseondae Platform

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My friend at Sinseondae Platform

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Me at Sinseondae Platform looking out into the sunset

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My friend at Sinseondae Platform

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Taking a wefie at Sinseondae Platform before we leave

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View of the town from Sinseondae Platform

Windy Hills

After spending some time on Sinseondae Platform, we headed to our last destination of the day in Gyeongsangnam-do, Windy Hills. The drive to Windy Hills from Sinseondae Platform takes less than 5 mins. For this short drive, we rely on the street signs instead of our GPS (as it points us to take a longer route). Entrance and parking at Windy Hills are free. After parking our car, we took a short walk up to the windmill. Looking out into the sea from Windy Hills, this place looks more like some lake in a European country rather than South Korea. There is a windmill on top of Windy Hill that was used as a set in a Korean drama. Sitting on the bench in front of the windmill looking out at the sea is very therapeutic. This is a good end to the long day we had today. We enjoyed the sea breeze and the tranquillity this place brings and would love to stay here longer. However, as the sun is about to set and considering that we had to drive over some windy roads on our way back, we left Windy Hills and embarked on our drive back to Busan. Along the way back to Busan, we stopped by Gadeok Ocean Park rest area for a break.

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This does not seem like we are in South Korea

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View of the sea at Windy Hill

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The sun is setting over Windy Hill

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Taking a wefie at Windy Hill

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The windmill on Windy Hill

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Dusk at Windy Hill

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Night view of Geoje at Ocean Park Rest Area

Back to Busan Gunam Street

The drive from Geoje to Busan took around 3 hrs. We headed back to the hotel and parked our car there. Instead of going back to our rooms, we headed out to the nearby Gunam Street for dinner. We did not want to have too full a dinner as we wanted to buy some street food back to the hotel to eat. We settled our dinner at a Korea BBQ restaurant, after which we headed to Haeundae Market nearby to get some Korean fish cake, tteokbokki and Korean fried chicken back to the hotel to eat. It is a long day and tomorrow we will be having another long day in Gyeongju. We rested for the night soon after eating the food we bought from Haeundae Market.

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My friends buying street food at Haeundae Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 4 (29 Oct 19) – Onward to Busan and the Colourful Gamcheon Culture Village

Our itinerary is deliberately kept very light today, we catered time to travel from Jeju to Busan and also to take a break from the hectic schedule in the past two days in Jeju to prevent travel fatigue. After all, this is our 4th day in South Korea and we still have another eight days to go.

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Flying from Jeju to Busan

Bye Bye Jeju

Today we bid our farewells to Jeju and embarked on the second leg of our trip. We woke up early to ensure that we have sufficient time to return our rental car and make it to the airport. I was a little worried that we might be cutting the time a little fine as the car rental company only opens at 8am and our flight is at 8.50am. Nonetheless, we tried our luck and left our accommodation early to see if the car rental company opens early. We reached the rental car return at 7.45am and was pleasantly surprised that the car rental company had already opened. The process of car return is very swift. The staff took our car and did a quick inspection, before long we were given the green light that everything was fine with the car. The staff even pointed us to the shuttle bus stop to Jeju Airport and informed us that the bus will be leaving soon. We made it to the 7.50am bus leaving for Jeju Airport. A short  10 mins ride whipped us to the airport in no time. We arrived at Jeju Airport at 8am, giving us ample time to check-in (luckily there were a lot of Korean Air counters and the queue was very thin). Check-in was done in under 5 mins, however, we were struck with a long immigration queue. Foreign visitors travelling out of Jeju Airport, even on domestic flights, are subjected to immigration check. Despite the long queue, the queue moved very fast and we were at airside in under 15 mins. By the time we reached our boarding gate, our flight had just commenced boarding.

My friends and I managed to get some rest onboard the 1 hr flight from Jeju to Busan. After touching down and collected our luggage, we headed to the airport limousine bus stop, which is on the right from the exit of the airport terminal. We managed to catch the 10.20am bus which was just about to depart from the terminal. We arrived at Haeundae each to and the plan was to check into our hotel, freshen up and head out to Busan Gamcheon Village. We had a rude shock at the hotel as we have previously communicated with a hotel staff who ensured that we can check-in early at 11am when we arrive. The check-in staff did not even bother to check and declined our early check-in. At this time, we saw no point in arguing with her (a waste of our time anyway). We did a quick change in plan, left our luggage at the hotel concierge and headed out to Busan Gamcheon Village.

Gamcheon Culture Village –  Colourful Village on the Hills

We headed to the nearby subway station, which is about 5 mins walk from the hotel to get to Gamcheon Culture Village. We took the subway from Haeundae Station to Toseong Station, which takes us 1 hr to reach. Exiting the station, the next 20 mins walk is rather daunting. It felt like forever as the walk to Gamcheon Culture Village is literally an uphill walk, nonetheless, it is a good workout for the three of us. We knew we arrived at the Gamcheon Culture Village when we spotted an overhead bridge with very small signage that states the name of the place. Instead of crossing the bridge, we walked a little further where the entrance to the village is. The entrance is already crowded with tourists at the time of our arrival. Gamcheon Culture Village is a residential village that is built on the side of the slopes, most of the buildings here are decked in bright cheerful colours that gave this village its own character. This character also draws tourists to visit. In fact, Gamcheon Culture Village feels very touristy and seems like its sole existence is for tourism at the time of our visit. There are more shops along the main streets then residential buildings. These shops exist for the purpose of tourism selling all sorts of souvenirs, street food and cafes rather than catering to the needs of the residences in Gamcheon Culture Village. There is even a shop that rents Habok for tourists. As we were walking along the street, we noticed the residential units are tucked away either high up away from the main walking street or further down the valley.

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Walking up the slope to Gamcheon Culture Village

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We knew we arrived at Gamcheon Culture Village when we saw this bridge

It did not take us too long to walk to an open platform where we got a full view of Gamcheon Culture Village. The houses in Gamcheon Culture Village seems to be stacked on top of each other, spreading across the entire valley. From the platform, it seems there is only one small opening that peeps into the sea. The bright colour brings a cheerful character to the village. Standing here looking out into the entire village, the feeling is exhilarating. No wonder tourists flock to this village. Coupled with the clear blue sky and the mountains sitting afar into the sea in Busan, Gamcheon Culture Village is an instagramble place. As we were walking along, we spotted a statue looking out into Gamcheon Culture Village. I read that tourists usually come here to take a picture with this statue of Le Petit Prince and queues for taking a picture with Le Petit Prince can be as long as 30 mins. We originally did not want to take pictures with it, but seeing the queue was relatively short (only 4 people in front of us), we joined the queue. As my friend was taking pictures of me with Le Petit Prince, I spotted a platform below which seem to be able to take great pictures of Gamcheon Culture Village and the best thing is there are no people there. We headed down to this platform through the building next to Le Petit Prince and got our cameras snapping away. After walking for a while more, I spotted a cafe that faces the village. We settled into the cafe for some coffee and desserts before continuing on. The scenery here feels a tad repetitive after a while (well we spent some 3 hrs here) and we decided we had enough of Gamcheon Culture Village. As we were walking back to the entrance of Gamcheon Culture Village, we spotted a bus stop and took a bus down to the subway station. At this point, my friends were relieved there is a bus service up. Their eyes literally rolled when I told them I knew of the bus service and purposely make them walk all the way up.

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Full view of Gamcheon Culture Village

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The houses at Gamcheon Culture Village gives off a bright and cheerful vibe

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Feels like we are at the top of the world

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Looking out at Gamcheon Culture Village

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Munching away on street food in Gamcheon Culture Village

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Sunset over Gamcheon Culture Village

Busan Station

Before we head back to the hotel to check into our rooms, we stopped by Busan Station to collect the car we rented for the next two days for the excursion out of Busan. Before we collect our car, we headed inside Busan Station to get our express train ticket to Seoul, fearing we might not be able to get tickets if we buy it on our departure date. We took the chance to familiarise ourselves with the station, saving us the trouble to hunt for the platform should we get delayed on our day of departure. We also checked out what food is sold at the train station for our train ride three days later. We headed to collect our car and drove back to the hotel to park for the night. I was concerned about driving in Busan, mainly due to the traffic, thus planned to drive as little as possible in Busan City.

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At Busan Station to get our tickets to Seoul

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Wefie at Busan Station

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Our recce of Busan Station

Eating Street in Haeundae

We headed back to our hotel at Haeundae beach after we picked up the car. It is already 8.30pm when we reached the hotel. After checking in and settled into our rooms a bit, we headed out to the nearby Gunam Street where numerous restaurants are located for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to rest for the night, after all, we have to wake up early the next day for our road trip to Tongyeong and Geoje in Gyeongsangnamdo.

 

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 3 (28 Oct 19) – Hiking Hallasan, The Tallest Mountain in South Korea

On Day 3 of our trip to South Korea, we had another first experience – hiking up Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea. The drive around Jeju would be relatively shorter compared to yesterday, as a bulk of today is spent trekking up Hallasan.

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Our journey today focuses on the central and southwestern part of Jeju-do

The not-so Mysterious Road

The first destination today is to stop by at the Mysterious Road, whilst driving towards Hallasan. The road got its name for the fact that visitors can see water flowing upslope. I was here 10 years ago and witness how the water flows up to the slope and was excited to show my friends this phenomenon. Before heading out from our Airbnb accommodation, we prepared a bottle of water for that purpose. The drive to Mysterious Road from our accommodation took a mere 15 mins. After parking our car, we spotted a sign that says “Start of Mysterious Road”. We quickly whipped out our water bottle and start pouring a small amount of water. We observed. The water did not flow upslope, instead, it flowed downslope. Thinking maybe we might have the wrong section of the road and walked up further. We tried again, the water still flows downslope. Again we walked further up and tried. Same results. Eventually, we reached another road sign that says “End of Mysterious Road”, this is the point where we gave up and thought the Mysterious Road is no longer mysterious. We ended up the 7-Eleven next to the road and got ourselves some coffee and Onigiri for our hike up Hallsan and left for Yeongsil Trial on Hallasan.

Hallasan – Hiking on the Back of The Sleeping Giant

When I was planning for this trip to South Korea, standing at 1,950m tall, Hallasan is an extinct volcano and the tallest mountain in South Korea. It towers over Jeju Island like a guardian angel watching over Jejuans and its visitors. It would be a pity not to scale it since we are already in Jeju. There are seven hiking trails in Hallasan with some taking hikers to the peak of the mountain, ranging from as short as 1.5km (about 30 mins hike) to as long as 9.6km (about 5 hours one way). I wanted to hike a trail that does not take too much time and yet allowing us to get scenic views of the mountain. Yeongsil Trail fits the bill perfectly. The estimated hike up Yeongsil Trail takes around 4 hours in total, which will leave us with some time to explore the other parts of Jeju.

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The hiking trails on Hallasan

It takes us around 1hour to drive up to Yeongsil Trail entrance from Mysterious Road. As we were driving up to Yeongsil Trail, the winding road took us past rows and rows of forest trees that were starting to show their autumn foliage, some decked in red and other in yellow, the drive was both soothing and therapeutic. Soon we reached the first car park at Yeongsil Trail. There are two car parks at Yeongsil Trail, the first car park has more parking lots, but requires one to walk another 2.5km to reach the entrance of the trail. There is a second car park right in front of Yeongsil Trail entrance. There was already a queue forming up for the second car park at the time we arrived at the first car park. We were stuck in the queue for around 30 mins. My friends and I were discussing our options while we wait for our turn to drive to the second car park. There are limited parking lots at the second car park and traffic to the second car park is controlled. Soon we were moving as some cars ahead of us left the queue. With no signs of any vehicles coming out, and just when we were about to give up waiting and leave the queue to park our car in the first car park, the staff opens up the boom gate and let us in. The drive to the second car park took another 5 mins through some windy mountain roads. Entrance to Hallasan is free, but parking is chargeable at KRW1,800 per car.

The First Leg – Hiking Through the Forest

Yeongsil Trail entrance starts at 1200m above sea level. There are some eateries and souvenir shops next to the car park at Yeongsil Trail entrance. There is a booth at the start of the trail apprising hikers of the route and the time required. Here is where they distribute maps in various languages for hikers. The entrance of Yeongsil Trail took us into a forest. his part of the trail is an easy walk, with roads well marked out. The fresh and crisp morning forest air coupled with birds chirping to the morning air, and absence of flying insects make hiking here a pleasant experience. TAs we were walking on the trail, we spotted some leaves on the trees starting to don on their autumn clothing. A good portion of the trees have turned yellow and some even in red. We hear water flowing from a distance, seemingly playing the symphony of mother nature, but can’t seem to point out where the stream flows along. We can even seem part of Hallasan peeking out at us through the canopy of the forest the further we walked in Yeongsil Trail. At this point, we were totally clueless on exactly which part of the trail we are at and how long more to go. We kept on hiking along the trail, following the general flow of human traffic. Occasionally we spot a map telling us where we are, but that does not give us a good enough indication of our exact location. About 30 mins into Yeongsil Trail from the entrance, we came to a steep staircase made out of the rocks. This is where we know we arrived at the second leg of the trail.

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Taking a wefie before our hike up South Korea’s tallest mountain – Hallasan

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More views of the forested area along Yeongsil Trail

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We see Hallasan peeking out from the forest canopy occasionally

The Second Leg – Dramatic View of the Land Below

After the climb over the steep staircase, the forest canopy starts to thin out and eventually gave way to reveal the clear blue sky and the majestic Hallasan. From here, it is a series of stairs climbing to our final destination on Hallasan. It is here that we started to realise the hike up to Hallasan seems long and daunting. Along the way, we kept wondering where would our final destination is on the mountain. We half suspect we were only at the beginning of the hike. The higher we climb up Hallasan, the thinner the vegetation is, and the more we can see over the land below us. Yeongsil Trail is at the southern part of Hallasan, we got a good view of southern Jeju Island. The view was magnificent and makes one feels so small in this world. There are several viewing platforms along the Yeongsil Trail for hikers to rest or to take pictures of the vast land below. We stopped occasionally both on these platforms as well as along the stairs to take photos and admire the vastness of the land. Looking down below from this leg of Yeongsil Trail makes one forget all the troubles. The other highlight of this leg is the views of the Byeongpung Bawi Rocks or the Folding Screen Rocks, which got its name as the appearance of this part Hallasan resembles folding screens. Our hike was slightly delayed as we stopped numerous times to take pictures, we couldn’t get enough of the views offered on this leg of the trail. Some parts of this trail were so close to the edge of the cliff that it felt like one can fall off anytime. However, hiking on this trail is absolutely safe as the trail is well paved with handle ropes to aid visitors when climbing up Hallasan. The parts that are close to the edge of the mountain are erected with high fences to ensure hikers have a safe journey up and down Hallasan.

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Panoramic view of Hallasan

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Hallasan on Yeongsil Trail

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At this point, we are able to see the vast lands below

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My friend on the platform looking out into the vast lands below

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Byeongpung Bawi Rock on Hallasan

The Final Leg – The Alpine Flatland and End Point Witseoreum Shelter

After 1½ hours of climbing from the steep staircase, the elevation of the slope became gentle once more. From here it is an easy walk to the end of Yeongsil Trail. The vegetation started to get thicker along the trail and soon we found ourselves walking on flat land. At this point, we were still wondering if we were near the end of the trail. We walked for another 20 mins and saw the path folks off to a huge platform. We decided to stop for a rest and had our mini picnic here with the onigiri and the coffee we bought from the 7-Eleven at Mysterious Road earlier on. Due to the flat alpine land, we can easily forget that we are actually at 1750m above sea level and we are actually on an extinct volcano. It is definitely an interesting experience picnicking on Hallasan, we wish we had bought more food to have a proper picnic. While we were resting, we saw a flight of staircase that seems to lead to an elevated peak of Hallasan. We thought that could be our endpoint and headed over. There is another viewing platform at the end of this staircase. We could see the western part of Jeju Island from this platform, and the view is exceptional. It is here that we realise we were very high up the mountain as we saw clouds below us. I highly recommend hikers on Yeongsil Trail to make a short stop here as the view is stunning. Just when we started to pat ourselves on our back for reaching the endpoint of Yeongsil Trail, I half suspected that this platform might not be the endpoint after all. We checked with a local hiker and was told our endpoint is another 10 mins walk away. My friends and I thought since we made it this far, what are another 10 mins walk.

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Stopping for a mini picnic on Hallasan

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With the Peak of Hallasan in the background

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This could be the peak of Hallasan

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Panoramic shot from the elevated platform

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We are above the clouds on Hallasan

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We can see part of the land below from here

We headed down from the platform and followed the crowd on the boardwalk. Some 10 mins later the trail led us to a huge wooden platform with several wooden houses. This seems to be a place where all the hikers from the other trails on Hallasan converge. At this point, we can confirm that we had reached our destination on Hallasan, Witseoreum Shelter which is situated at 1700m above sea level. As we were walking around, we saw several elderly Koreans picnicking here. It took us about 3 hours to reach our endpoint on Hallasan. At Witseoreum Shelter, there are paths that lead to other trails on Hallasan. There is even a trail that leads to the peak of Hallasan. After some pictures with a stone that states the elevation, we started to hike back down from where we came from to our car.

The Return Leg – Same Scenery but a Different Feel

We headed back the same way we came up from. Although it is the same path, the scenery appears different. Maybe it is because we were back facing the vast lands below when we climbed up (that did not allow us to fully appreciate the scenery) or maybe our focus is on where is the endpoint on our way up that distracted us from appreciating the scenery that is before us. On our second time on the trail, we got to see more of Hallasan that we did not notice on the way up. Nonetheless, my friends and I can never get tired of the scenery that was before our eyes.  We stopped occasionally to take pictures of the surroundings. The hike down Yeongsil Trail took us 1½ hours to reach the car park. We were surprised that the hike down took significantly lesser time compared to the way up. After a short toilet break, we felt hungry and drove to nearby our next destination for lunch.

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Taking a wefie on our way down

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One last look of Jeju from Hallasan

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The Byeongpung Bawi Rock on Hallasan

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Posing for a shot on the stairs we climbed

Jusangjeolli Cliff – Nature’s Wonder Hexagonal Coast

We settled our lunch at a Mcdonald’s near our next destination. After lunch, it is a 15 mins drive to the Jusangjeolli Cliff. Entrance to Jusangjeolli Cliff costs KRW2,000 per person and car parking is chargeable at KRW1,000 per car. It took us a mere 5 mins walk from the car park to the viewing platform at Jusangjeolli Cliff. Jusangjeolli Cliff is characterised by its unique pillar hexagonal coastal rocks are formed when the volcanic lava from Hallasan erupted and cooled by the sea 250,000 years ago. There is only a small stretch of the viewing platform that allows visitors to get a good view of Jusangjeolli Cliff. It is a little crowded at the time of our visit as everyone congregates on this platform to marvel at this masterpiece of Mother Nature. Despite the crowded, my friends and I were still able to get a good view of Jusangjeolli Cliff. What makes this place worth visiting is the view of the southern sea which seems to stretch forever. The view is especially tranquil and we felt we could stay here for a few more moments. The hexagon coast of Jusangjeolli Cliff is just a small part of this area. We only stayed here for around 5 mins and left for our next destination.

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The hexagon pillar Jusangjeolli Cliff

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Sun is almost setting at Jusangjeolli Cliff

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One last wefie before we leave Jusangjeolli Cliff

Innisfree Jeju House

We originally planned to visit Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, we decided to give this a miss partly due to the disappointing Cheonjiyeon Waterfall we visited yesterday, and partly due to our tiredness after the hike on Hallasan. Instead, we decided to head west and visit the Innisfree Jeju House. Initially, we thought we can do some shopping at Innisfree Jeju House, we were soon disappointed upon arriving. The merchandise on sale is very limited, as though selling their products is not the main purpose here. The main attractions in Innisfree Jeju House are the tea plantation and the cafe. We left after staying 5 mins here and bought a green tea lava cake as well as some coffee. Innisfree Jeju House is not worth visiting unless one has ample time on their hands in Jeju or wanted to try their green tea lava cake, which is quite delicious.

Back to Jeju-si

Although the sun has set, however, it is still relatively early. We took the 1hr drive to Dongmun market area in Jeju-si for dinner and to buy breakfast for tomorrow as we would have to wake up early to catch our flight to Busan the next day. After parking our car, we strolled along the underground shopping street and the shopping street on the surface. Jeju-si is deserted today. There are hardly anyone on the streets. After strolling for around 30 mins (with nothing to buy), we packed some food and brought back to our Airbnb accommodation. We rested early tonight for an early flight out of Jeju tomorrow. In the short span of 3 days, we managed to cover most of the attractions in Jeju. We thought 3 days is just nice for a road trip in Jeju.

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 2 (27 Oct 19) – Exploring Southern Jeju on Wheels, From Seongsan Ilchulbong to Seogwipo Olle Market

We were determined to make up for the time we lost yesterday and tried to cover some of the places that we did not manage to visit yesterday. The major sites in Jeju are situated to the East and South of the island, with the centre occupied by Hallasan. From my research during the planning of this trip, it seems that there is nothing much of the West part of Jeju, while Northern Jeju is where Jeju-si and Jeju Airport is located. There are some sites on the northern part of the island, however, this trip is mainly focusing on the major sites in the Eastern and Southern part of Jeju. Today is the first day of my driving left-hand drive car in Jeju, initially, I was a little concern. After my initial experience driving during peak hours, these concerns whittle away. I do find driving in Jeju quite relaxing.

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Our journey around Jeju-do today

Seongsan Ilchulbong – The Sunrise Peak

We woke up pretty early today and got out on the roads of Jeju Island by 7am. The morning traffic is light, making driving in Jeju very relaxing. The journey from our Airbnb accommodation to our first stop, Seongsan Ilchulbong takes around 1 hour. We were treated to some nice scenery along the way, passing by some tranquil farmlands as though they are waking up to the next autumn Jeju morning. As we were near Seongsan Ilchulbong, we spotted a Starbucks and stopped for breakfast and coffee. I think this Starbucks offers the best view in South Korea and it overlooks Seongsan Ilchulbong. We had a relaxing time sipping our coffee and having a leisure breakfast, with the sunrise peak in front of us.

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The Starbucks with a great view of Seongsan Ilchulbong

After breakfast, we resumed our journey to Seongsan Ilchulbong. It only took us 10 mins to drive from Starbucks to Seongsan Ilchulbong. After parking our car and paying  KRW5,000 per adult, we are at the grounds of Seongsan Ilchulbong. Seongsan Ilchulbong is also known as the sunrise peak as it sits on the eastern edge of Jeju Island, a perfect spot to watch the sunrise over the sea. The path to Seongsan Ilchulbong spits into two about 50m from the ticket booth, one path leads to the coast and another leads to the peak of the extinct volcano. The paths at Seongsan Ilchulbong is very well laid, making visiting the Sun Rise Peak a leisure walk in the morning. The one-way path to the 182m peak consists of a series of stairs, ensuring a good flow of human traffic especially during busier times. We were mesmerised by the scenery that the blue ocean and the green mountain ranges unfold during our ascent to the peak. My friends and I constantly turn around to take in the breathtaking coastal scenery. From Seongsan Ilchulbong, it feels as though one is on an island off the coast of Jeju Island. The tombolo that links the volcano to Jeju constantly reminded us that we are still on Jeju Island. The higher we ascend to the peak, the more of Eastern Jeju we saw. We were able to even spot Hallasan sitting far in the centre of Jeju Island as though guarding over Jeju Island.

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View of Eastern Jeju from Seongsan Ilchulbong

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The higher we climb, the better the scenery

We reached the peak of the 182m Seongsan Ilchulbong after 20 mins of climbing up the stairs. From this peak, we were able to better appreciate the vastness of Jeju Island and the seas surrounding Seongsan Ilchulbong. We took more pictures with the scenery outside the crater than with the crater. At the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong, a sunken piece of land which was the crater overgrown with plants is the only reminder of the Sunrise Peak was a volcano. The crater is cordoned off to visitors and we were only able to take pictures from the viewing platform that was built. Looking beyond the crater from the viewing platform we spotted the Eastern Sea off Jeju, stretching far into the horizon making us wonder what is at the other end of this sea. After 15 mins of enjoying the crisp fresh air and taking some pictures, we started our descent from the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong. One can never get tired of the scenery at Seongsan Ilchulbong. Despite being the same scene, we were still being mesmerised by the seas, the mountains and the vast land of Jeju. The descent took another 15 mins or so. While I went for a smoke break, my friends took the opportunity to buy some local snacks from one of the few stalls next to the car park. We continued our journey to the next destination on our list today.

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View of Jeju from the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong

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Took us 20 mins to reach the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong

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The crater at Seongsan Ilchulbong is overgrown with life

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The view during the descent is equally amazing

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One last look of the tombolo from Seongsan Ilchulbong

Seopjikoji – The Lighthouse Overlooking Seongsan Ilchulbong

Our next stop, Seopjikoji, is very near to Seongsan Ilchulbong. The scenic coastal drive only took us 15 mins from the Sunrise Peak. From my research, I read that we only need to cater 30 mins tops at Seopjikoji, but we spent a little over 1 hr here. Seopjikoji is landmarked by a lone lighthouse that seemingly guarding Seongsan Ilchulbong. Entrance to Seopjikoji is free, but parking is chargeable at KRW1,000 for the car we drove. We were already fascinated by the beach next to the car park at Seopjikoji. Instead of the usual brown sand, the beach at Seopjikoji is black, dotted with volcano rocks. We spent some time taking pictures by the beach before walking towards the lighthouse. Along the way, we were treated with a unique volcanic beach. The sea seems to stretch endlessly with the sun as its only companion. On the landward side of the path towards the lighthouse, wild plants are growing over all the crater, but in an orderly manner making this place very picturesque. There is no lack of photo opportunities at Seopjikoji, every corner seems to be Instagram worthy. As we were walking towards the lighthouse, we came across a deserted building that resembles a gingerbread house, which served as a set for several Korean dramas.

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The dramatic coastline at Seopjikoji

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It is a pleasant and easy walk to Seopjikoji Lighthouse

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Wonder what is at the other end of the ocean

The lighthouse is perched on top of a small hill accessible to visitors via a flight of stairs. The walk up to the lighthouse is very easy, which took us less than 3 mins to reach. Visitors can walk around the lighthouse to get an unobstructed view of the sea. The tranquillity at the lighthouse makes paying a visit to Seopjikoji well worth it. From the lighthouse, we can also get a great view of Seongsan Ilchulbong. We did not stay at the lighthouse for too long, as we spent most of our 1 hr here taking pictures along the coast towards the lighthouse. It is time for us to leave Seopjikoji and head to our next destination.

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Our destination is the lighthouse at Seopjikoji

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Climbing the stairs to the lighthouse at Seopjikoji

Jeju Folk Village – A Glimpse of the life of  Jejuans

We wanted to visit Jeju Folk Village, which is located on the Southeastern part of Jeju, on the next day. Looking at the location, we thought it make sense for us to plan a visit to Jeju Folk Village after Seopjikoji as it is along the southern coastal road in Jeju. We drove around 40 mins from Seopjikoji to reach Jeju Folk Village. Parking here is free, however, entrance to Jeju Folk Village costs KRW11,000 per adult. Jeju Folk Village is a huge outdoor museum depicting the life of Jejuans (people living in Jeju island) from ancient time. The village is very quiet at the time of our visit and it seems that we were the only foreign visitors when we visited. Passing through the main entrance, we headed along the road which loops around the village and spotted a path on a small hill that leads us to the Yeongwoljeong pavilion on top. Thinking that we might be able to get a good view of the entire village from Yeongwoljeong pavilion as it is the highest structure in the village. Instead of getting a view, we did not manage to see anything. Nonetheless, it is very tranquil sitting in the pavilion enjoying the cool autumn breeze in Jeju. We did not stay at the pavilion for long, we headed back to the main road and started our walk around the village.

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Yeongwoljeong pavilion is perched on top of a small hill in Jeju Folk Village

Jeju Folk Village is dotted with numerous stone houses thatched with straw roofs that were once actual residences of Jejuans since the 1890s. Most of these houses either retained the original stones facade or were painted in yellow. I was telling my friends the Jejuans used horse manure to hold these stones together that form the walls of their houses. One common feature of Jeju house is the low outer fence, with three logs as the gate. Jeju has been traditionally a very safe place, where the Jejuans do not lock their doors. The placement of the three logs relay information to visitors the whereabouts of the owners of the houses. When all three logs were in place, it meant no one is at home, two logs means the owner is going our for a long period and if only one log is in place, it meant the owner will be back shortly. We were in time to catch one of the three scheduled performance in the village, as we walked along the road heading to the performance hall, along the way, we spotted a poultry farm and an orange orchard with fake oranges pasted onto the tree. We entered one of the buildings opposite the poultry farm exhibiting livelihood of the Jejuans as farmers and the tools they used. A building next to the agriculture exhibit is the set location of one of the Korean dramas. At this point, we felt a little boring as the buildings all look the same. We headed straight to the performance hall and watched a performance. After watching the performance (literally just singing of some Korean songs and spinning off some plates on a stick), we started to get bored by this place and made our way out of the village to head to our next destination. I do find Jeju Folk Village a tad boring, visit if one really has the time.

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A poultry farm in Jeju Folk Village

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My friend inside a shed in the fake orange plantation

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Structure of a typical Jeju house

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My friends playing a traditional Korean board game in Jeju Folk Village

Jeongbang Waterfall – Where the Stream meets the Sea

Leaving Jeju Folk Village, we continue our drive on the southern part of Jeju-do towards Jeongbang Waterfall. The drive from Jeju Folk Village to Jeongbang Waterfall took around 20 mins. There is ample parking space at Jeongbang Waterfall and parking is free. Entrance to the waterfall costs us  KRW2,000 per person. The walk from the car park to the waterfall took us only 5 mins, once pass the entrance, down a flight of well-paved stairs and a short stroll, the majestic Jeongbang Waterfall is just in front of us. Jeongbang Waterfall is one of the top three waterfalls in Jeju. The 23m waterfall is the only waterfall in South Korea where the stream falls directly into the ocean. At the end of the pathway, we came to some boulders where one would need to tread carefully to get nearer to the waterfall. There were quite a lot of people trying to get a shot with the waterfall at the time of our visit, however, few were willing to venture nearer to the waterfall where the most spectacular photos can be taken. In order for us to take pictures without people in it, we had to make clever use of angles to “edit” others out of the pictures. My friends and I stayed at the waterfall for around 30 mins to marvel this wonder of mother nature (and to take more pictures without people in it) and left for our next destination as it was about to get dark soon.

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Jeongbang Waterfall from the entrance

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The sea where the stream from Jeongbang Waterfall flows into

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Taking a wefie at Jeongbang Waterfall

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The majestic Jeongbang Waterfall

Oedolgae Rock – The Lone Rock

Our next destination today is the Oedolgae Rock, which took us around 5 mins drive from Jeongbang Waterfall. I visited this lone rock some 10 years ago during my first trip to South Korea, however back then the battery in my camera had died off and I was not able to take pictures of Oedolgae Rock (back then cameras in mobile phones still suck). Admission to Oedolgae Rock is free, however, we paid KRW1,000 for parking our car at the car park. Leaving the car park, we walked around 5 mins through a well-paved section of the coastal forest to reach the Oedolgae Rock viewing platform. There she is, the 20m lone rock emerging from the sea, there are some trees growing on top of the rock. Oedolgae Rock is a lava rock formed by a volcanic eruption 150,000 years ago. Through the ages and the forces of mother nature, wave erosion on this lava rock separated it from the main coastline.  We couldn’t have picked a better timing to arrive at Oedolgae Rock, we were treated with a spectacular view of the Oedolgae Rock draped with the orange sky, the crowd is also very thin at this time, giving us the enjoyment of a tranquil view of the sea where the rock sits. As we were taking photos, we spotted a trail that seems to lead to the cliff across from the viewing platform. The walk along the coast took us around 10 mins, it is here where we were treated with more stunning views of the Oedolgae Rock. My friends and I did not stay here for too long as we wanted to make it to our final destination for today before it closes.

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Oedolgae Rock near sunset

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Wefie at the Oedolgae Rock viewing platform

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A different angle of Oedolgae Rock

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This is the part of the coast that I did not get to visit the last time I was here

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The sun setting over the sea at Oedolgae Rock

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Taking wefie at Oedolgae Rock

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall – The Waterfall in the Park

The drive to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall took around 5 mins. There is a huge car park in front of the entrance to the waterfall. Parking is free and the admission to the waterfall costs KRW2,000 per person. It was about to get dark at the time of our arrival, we did a quick check and found that the waterfall is still open. Rather than calling it a waterfall where one would walk a short path to the waterfall, Cheonjiyeon felt more like a park with the waterfall at the end of the park. At the end of the 7 mins walk from the entrance, the 12m wide, 22m tall Cheonjiyeon Waterfall lies at the end of the footpath waiting for visitors to catch a glimpse. We were a tad disappointed with Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, as it does not look as majestic compared to Jeongbang Waterfall. Maybe it is due to the fact that visitors can only view the waterfall from a distance and perhaps due to the fact that it is already dark at the time we were there. Either way, we felt Jeongbang Waterfall is a better choice compared to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. We did not stay for too long and left after taking some pictures.

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Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

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Taking wefie at Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

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The garden where Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is located

Dinner at Seogwipo

We left Cheonjiyeon Waterfall and search for dining options around in Seogwipo. As I wanted to have bibimbap for dinner, did a quick search on google and found a restaurant nearby that seem to serve bibimbap. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were told that they only serve vegetarian bibimbap. The very friendly staff understood what we wanted and gave us some directions for more dining options nearby. Following the directions given by the restaurant staff, we found ourselves to Seogwipo Olle Market. We almost strike this place out from our list of places to visit in Jeju due to time constraint, but fate brought us here incidentally. Seogwipo Olle Market is bustling with life at this time of the day (or night). It seems like people from Seogwipo is all gathered here for the night market. There are numerous stalls in Seogwipo Olle Market selling seafood, with some selling fruits and vegetable. We walked in the market in search of dining options to find ourselves ended up having Korean BBQ for dinner. As we had a long day today, we walked around Seogwipo Olle Market a little after dinner and head back to our Airbnb accommodation to rest for the night and prepare for the next highlight of this trip, trekking up Hallasan.

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We ended up having Korean BBQ for dinner at Seogwipo Olle Market

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 1 (26 Oct 19) – Start of Our Adventure in the Land of Kimchi

My last trip to South Korea was three years ago. That time my friend and I restricted ourselves to Seoul and some of the provinces nearby Seoul. Incidentally, as I was browsing through my blog, I realised that the first time I visited South Korea was in 2009, some 10 years ago. At the end of my blog, I wrote that one of these days I would return to South Korea and explore other parts of the country on a free and easy trip. Here we are, some 10 years later, I actually returned to South Korea and planned to visit other parts of the country. As I was telling my friends, the theme of this trip is Experience. We will be experiencing things that we have not done before. Our journey will bring us to three major stops in South Korea, Jeju, Busan and Seoul. The best way to visit Jeju is to drive around. This is my first experience – driving on the left-hand drive in a country that I hardly know their language. This trip is going to be interesting.

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My friends and I getting ready to board our overnight flight that bound for Incheon, South Korea

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Getting comfortable on our flight to Incheon

Arrival At Incheon Airport  –  Gateway to South Korea

After an overnight flight from Singapore, our flight landed slightly ahead of time. Just when we thought we had more time for our connecting flight to Jeju, we met with a snaking queue at the immigration which resulted in only 30 mins ahead of our planned timing. Our flight from Gimpo Airport, where domestic flights in South Korea departs, to Jeju was brought forward by 15 mins, I was a little concern that we might not make it in time for the onward flight.

After clearing custom and collecting our luggage, we originally wanted to get SIM cards for our travels in South Korea, the KAL limousine bus to Gimpo Airport leaves in 10 mins. We changed our plan and rush for the bus instead of getting the SIM cards, thinking that we will be able to get some at Gimpo Airport. Travellers can take either the train or the limousine bus to Gimpo Airport. The train option is half the price of that of the bus option and takes only 45 mins vis-a-vis 1 hour by bus. We opted for the bus as it meant resting on the bus all the way to Gimpo Airport. Several buses are operating between the two airports, we went for the service operated by Korean Air, which departs from entrance number 4. The bus departs at 10.55am, with mere minutes to spare, my friends and I quickly bought our tickets and made our way to Gimpo Airport.

Our First Destination in South Korea – The Volcanic Province of Jeju

The bus pulled into Gimpo Airport at 11.40am, which was 15 mins ahead of time. We proceeded to Level 2 where the check-in counters are located. We had no problems looking for Korean Air counters and got ourselves checked in for our flight to Jeju. Having some time left, we inquired at the information counter to see if we can buy some SIM cards. However, to our dismay, we were informed that we will not be able to get SIM cards in Gimpo Airport and only do so in Jeju. Before our flight, we headed to a food court on level 3 of the airport terminal for brunch. There were a lot of food options at the food court, ranging from Japanese to Western and Korean cuisines. It took us 10 mins to decide what to eat. The food was inexpensive and tasted great. After having our food, we noticed we only have 30 mins before our flight departs and made our way to the boarding gate. Soon we found ourselves on the flight bound for Jeju. We managed to get some rest on the 80 mins flight.

Our flight touched down at 2.40pm. After collecting our luggage, we hunted in the terminal building for SIM cards and were able to get some. We then headed to the car rental counters to collect our rented car but was told that our car collection is at another location, 15 mins bus ride from Jeju Airport. We were given instructions on where the complimentary shuttle is and made our way to the bus. We planned to visit some of the sites in Southern Jeju today, however, we were delayed when we collected our car. Apparently, the car that we were initially assigned seems to be problematic during our walkthrough with the staffs. It took them 35 mins to bring us another car. It is already 4pm when we headed to our Airbnb accommodation. We were further delayed on our way to our accommodation as we keyed in the wrong address. I had to drive carefully in Jeju as this is the first time I am driving left-hand drive car. We reached our accommodation at 5pm, which is too late for us to visit any sites in Jeju. After settling down and freshening up, we make do with the rest of our time in Jeju today and checked out Dongmun Night Market, which I have visited 10 years ago.

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A wefie in Jeju Airport after collecting our luggage

Downtown Jeju – Black Pork Street and Dongmun Night Market

The drive to Jeju-si from our accommodation took around 30 mins. We spent a considerable amount of time looking for a carpark lot as it was a weekend and all the carparks seem full. After waiting for another 20 mins at the entrance of the carpark, we finally parked our car. Our first stop is the Black Pork Street for dinner. This place came highly recommended by our Airbnb host who was thoughtful enough to send me a picture of the area. Black Pork Street is 5 mins walk from the entrance of Dongmun Market across the road. One will not miss this street as it is very well marked with an arch. The Black Pork Street is where a small number of Korea BBQ restaurants selling Jeju black pork congregates. There are not a lot of restaurants here and every one of them seem to sell about the same thing, the price did not differ much. My friends and I picked one and headed inside for our dinner. We ordered black pork set for three pax. Korean cuisines always come with numerous side dishes known as Banchan, this restaurant is no exception. We always determine if the food in the restaurant is nice by tasting their kimchi. The kimchi served in this restaurant is no exception, it is tasty and well marinated. The black pork is tender and delicious, our BBQ dishes are done by the staff who helped us cook the meat over the heated metal plate.

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Arch marking the Black Pork Street in Jeju-si

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One of those “we have been here” photo with the arch of Black Pork Street

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Sumptuous BBQ Black Pork for dinner

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Taking a wefie with our dinner

After dinner, we headed back to Dongmun Night Market where we briefly past through while making our way to Black Pork Street. The Night Market is full of life and seems like the whole of Jeju is here for the weekend night market. Dongmun Night Market is not only a market that attracts tourists, but locals also seem to gather here for the food and the atmosphere. There are two parts to the sizable Dongmun Night Market, the larger market part sells local produce from Jeju orange (which was in season at the time of our visit) to live seafood freshly caught off the coast of Jeju Island to souvenirs catering to tourists. This part of the market is dotted with vibrant colours from these produces but is less crowded. We spotted some people, mainly tourists, shopping in the fresh produce part of Dongmun Night Market.

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We are about to explore this Dongmun Night Market, which I have been to 10 years ago

The other smaller part of the night market is the street food part, where most people gather. There is no lack of option of street food here with stalls selling black pork ribs, BBQ abalones, tteokbokki, stir fry beef and freshly squeezed orange juice. One can get pretty much settle their dinner from these street food options alone, lucky we did not have too full a dinner to enjoy some of this inexpensive street food. We did not stay here too long as this part of the market is rather small plus we had a long day travelling from Singapore to Jeju, we headed back to our accommodation to readjust our plan for tomorrow to make up for the lost time today and to rest early as we have to wake up early the next day.

[Accommodation Review] – Theme Park Hotel (Kings Room), Genting Highlands, Malaysia (30 Nov – 1 Dec 19)

Location

Theme Park Hotel is one of the seven hotels managed by Resorts World Genting and is located on the top of Genting Highlands together with other major hotels. Compared to the other hotels in Genting Highland, Theme Park Hotel feels a tad isolated being located in one corner of the resort, opposite the Arena of Stars theatre. The hotel is about 5 mins walk to the central area in Genting Highlands where food and entertainment are located. There was a concert over the weekend when my friends and I visited Genting Highlands, walking towards the central area in Genting Highlands from Theme Park Hotel was a challenge having to squeeze through hordes of concert-goers.

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Entrance to Theme Park Hotel

The Room

There are two wings to Theme Park Hotel, we were assigned rooms in the Valley Wing which is a 3 mins walk from the main building via a link bridge. My friend and I checked into a very clean 21m² Kings Room. The room feels small but the clever use of space does not make one feel claustrophobic. As we were only staying for one night, I thought space is good enough for sleeping at night.

Sleeping Area

The room has a simple set up, a sleeping area and a bathroom. The Sleeping Area occupies most of the real estate space in the Kings Room. The king bed is essentially a mattress laid on a raised platform. The sleep quality on the bed is decent, but the pillows are too soft for my liking. There is only one bedside lamp and power points one side of the king bed, which is rather inconvenient for the two guests staying in the room. The hotel is very good at utilising the small space in the room by using the space below the platform for guests to stow away items such as their luggage. The in-room safe is also found below the platform.

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King Bed in the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel

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The bedside lamp and power sockets are only found on one side of the king bed

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An in-room safe is tucked below the platform

A small desk is mounted on the wall facing the window in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. The size of the desk is too small for any work to be done, coupled with the hotel furnishes this part of the room with a stool, which is uncomfortable to sit on, rather than an office chair. It seems to suggest that this desk is not meant for guests to do work on, but to place small items, after all, who would want to bring their work all the way up to Genting Highlands. There are some complimentary coffee and tea placed on the desk for guests to consume. The in-room phone is also found on the desk. An empty mini-fridge with two bottles of water in the room is placed below the work desk.

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A small desk in the King Room

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Mini fridge below the work desk with two bottles of water

A 32″ LCD TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed. There are numerous local and international channels available on the TV, however, most of the international channels seem to be blocked past midnight. A luggage rack is placed next to the TV mounting. There is no wardrobe in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. Guests will have to make do with the four large hooks mounted on the wall next to the main entrance to the room to hang out their clothing. We only used these hooks to hang our jacket and placed the rest of the clothing on the platform where the king bed is.

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The TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed

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Luggage rack

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There are no wardrobes in the room only some hooks on the wall by the entrance

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View from the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel

Bathroom

The bathroom is located next to the entrance to the Kings Room. The bathroom has a semi open-concept. One will not find the main door enclosing the entire bathroom. The bathroom has a simple but functional setup. Facing the open entrance to the bathroom are two frosted glass cubicles. The left cubicle is the walk-in shower that is only equipped with a regular shower head, which serves its function of enabling us to shower. There is a ledge in the shower cubicle where the hotel placed one set of shower amenities. The right cubicle is the toilet. The sink area is tucked in one end of the bathroom. There isn’t much space for guests to place their own toiletries at the sink area, we had to shift the bathroom amenities provided by the hotel at the sink area to make space for our toiletries. The hotel provides two sets of good quality amenities, including toothbrushes. There is an opening below the sink where we were supposed to hang the hand towels. There are some hooks on the wall of the bathroom beside the sink for guests to hang clothing or towels. Due to the open concept, one has to be very comfortable with their roommate when staying in the Kings Room.

Service

Our interaction with the staff at Theme Park Hotel is very limited. We only interacted with the staffs at Theme Park Hotel during check-in. The service rendered at the reception was a mix of hits and misses. As we arrived at Genting Highlands at 6am, we proceeded to the hotel to see if there are available rooms for early check-in (early check-in is chargeable). We were assisted by a friendly and efficient staff whom after checking regrettably informing us no rooms were available. Seeing that some of us have brought luggage, the staff proposed that we leave our luggage with the concierge so we will not have to lug our luggage while walking around Genting Highlands.

We returned some 10 hours later, after the official check-in time, to check ourselves into our rooms. There are staffs standing by the self-check-in kiosks at the lobby of the hotel, however, none of them approached our party of six to render any assistance or to encourage us to use the self check-in kiosks.

We proceeded to the reception for our check-in and was served by a staff who did not seem to bother to greet or provide any smile on her face. The first thing she asked was why did we not use the self check-in kiosks. She only proceeded to help us check-in after we mentioned that we have three rooms to check-in and coming to the counter seem to be the most efficient way of getting our rooms. The staff then proceeded to process our check-in which took her almost 30 mins to complete the check-in. We are not too sure if she did that on purpose or the system at Resorts World Genting is generally slow.

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Theme Park Hotel Lobby. The hot air balloon looking structure is the reception area where check-ins are being processed

Overall

The location of Theme Park Hotel is good but not great, especially when one is assigned to a room at the Valley Wing, walking to the facilities and restaurants at Genting Highlands means a 10 to 12 mins affair. The King Room at the Theme Park Hotel is small, but the clever use of space in the King Room does not feel small. The room is of a decent comfort and seems to only serve the pragmatic function of providing a bed for guests to sleep. For a one night stay, I thought the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is alright, but I would not say the same if I am staying for more than one night. The service is a mix and not impressionable at the hotel, the only staffs that we interacted during our stay in the hotel are during check-in. Overall, the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is good for a one night stay.

[Airline Review] – Singapore Airlines A330-300 (SQ979) – Economy Class, BKK – SIN (18 Nov 19)

Check-in

Singapore Airlines’ check-in counters occupy the entire Row K in Bangkok Airport, located in the middle of the airport terminal. There were four check-in queues at the airport for Singapore Airlines: Business Class, KrisFlyer Elite Gold/Premium Economy, Economy Class and one for passengers who have completed internet check-in. There was no queue at the time of our arrival and since my friend has attained Elite Gold Status with Singapore Airlines, we checked in using the counter dedicated for KrisFlyer Elite Gold members. The ground staff at the check-in counter did not look particularly friendly. She also took her time to process our check-in and she left it to use to figure out the boarding gate and boarding time. The whole check-in process took around 20mins. Singapore Airlines has a dedicated SilverKris Lounge in Bangkok Airport, which is conveniently located opposite the gate our aircraft is scheduled to depart. As a KrisFlyer Elite Gold member, my friend is eligible to use the lounge. However, as we are near the boarding time, we did not visit the lounge.

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Singapore Airlines check-in counters are located in Row K

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There was no queue at the time we arrive at the check-in counters

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Singapore Airlines has a counter dedicated for their KrisFlyer Elite Gold members

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SilverKris Lounge at Bangkok Airport is located opposite the boarding gate. Krisflyer Elite Gold members are eligible to visit this lounge as well

The Aircraft

Singapore Airlines deployed its A330-300 aircraft to service this Bangkok to Singapore route. The A330-300 is a tad old and the cabins look a little tired. However, it serves its function of bringing us safely from Bangkok to Singapore.

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Singapore Airlines A330-300 at Bangkok Airport. Bangkok Airport is not exactly the best place to take pictures of aircrafts

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Singapore Airlines A330-300 safety card

The Cabin

Singapore Airlines A330-300 has a total of 285 seats spreading across two cabin classes, with 30 seats in Business Class and 255 seats in Economy Class. The Economy Class is further segregated into two sections, I am seated in the forward section of the Economy Class. The Economy Class cabin has a 2-4-2 configuration with the seats in the middle two columns decked in light brown fabrics and the other four seats on either side in turquoise fabric. The orange lighting used during boarding, coupled with the choice of colours for its Economy Class cabin seats, makes one feel a sense of comfort in the cabin.

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Singapore Airlines A330-300 Economy Class cabin

The Economy Class cabin lavatories onboard Singapore Airlines A330-300 are located between the two Economy Class cabins and at the aft of the aircraft. The lavatory is no bigger than that in other aircraft operated by Singapore Airlines. The lavatory is well stocked with amenities compared to other airlines. Unlike other aircraft types Singapore Airlines is operating, only hand lotion (there is no Eau de toilette) is made available in the lavatories. However, passengers can find other amenities such as toothbrushes, combs and mouth wash. Some other airlines at most only provide hand lotion on top of the handsoap. The tap onboard Singapore Airlines A330-300 are not senor-activated, rather one would have to press the button on the tap to get water flowing.

The Seat

The seats in Economy Class on Singapore Airlines A330-300 are cloaked in turquoise and light brown fabrics. I find the seats onboard this aircraft to be slightly thicker than those in the newer aircraft operated by Singapore Airlines, these thickly padded seats were very comfortable to sit in. Each seat has a pitch of 32″ and is 19″ wide, offering good legroom for its Economy Class passengers during this 2-hour flight. Pillows and blankets are not offered on this flight between Bangkok and Singapore, instead only blankets will be provided upon request from the flight attendant.