A weekend trip to Nature's wonderland
04.06.2012 - 22.08.2008 28 °C
I wasn’t very sure, when Chetan asked me for a weekend trip to JeJu Island.We had planned this earlier but despite putting only 20hr of sleep in a week my work was far far away from completion and a vacation was the last thing on my mind. Chetan literally dragged me from my workstation to the airport, a break according to him was what I needed the most.
Jeju is one of the most sought after destination in South Korea, a small island full of natural wonders.We took a flight from Seoul to Jeju which is a small 1 hr flight. Jeju has vibrant night life with some US style night clubs and bars. Lots of US army personals are guarding the disputed Line of control between South and North Korea and many of them visit Jeju for weekend fun.
We stayed at blue bay pension. It was a lovely bungalow style resort. It was close to a beach with good view and some outdoor barbeque facilities. We reached during night so we just had dinner at nearby market and strolled at the beach.
Down under and Up above
One of the main reasons which brought us to Jeju was a childhood fantasy of mine. A submarine ride was always on top of my “to do list” next only to Sky diving and a voyage to Mars, and getting one thing checked was giving me a lot of kick.
To my delight the submarine was yellow in color & instantly Beatles started singing in my head and I wanted to shout out loud “we all live in a Yellow submarine…Yellow submarine ... Yellow Submarine..”.
At the bay they put us in a boat and took us to the deeper sea where the submarine was stationed. Then they shifted all the passengers to the submarine and gave some kind of anti- nausea liquid to drink so one didn’t feel sick inside the submarine.
The submarine had two rows of seats along the walls next to large circular glass windows. After everyone got seated the submarine started to descend into deep water. It made weird noises but not the scary kind as they show in disaster movies. Soon a scuba diver outside drew our attention. He was pointing towards a huge school of fish swimming by. He then caught a small Shark and brought it close to our window. I was getting jealous of him. It seemed like he was having all the fun with those fish and we were feeling like old grandparents sitting on benches watching young kids play with a sigh!
The experience inside the submarine was bit like a role reversal, and it was like a humaniquarium for fish as we were trapped in a closed vessel and all those fish were roaming free all around us. The ride made me long for more and I decided to do scuba next whenever I get an opportunity (I did next year in Thailand).
From here we moved to our next adventure “ATV Ride” on the slopes of Halla Mountain. As we had no vehicle of our own we were stranded for a while. A very kind family understood our problem and offered us a lift to the next point.
ATV was the first four wheel thing I drove (and till today remained the last). At ATV point they gave us helmets and body suit kind of dress to prevent our clothes from getting spoiled by mud. The track was divided into two courses. First one was training course with mild difficulty and turns, once you clear that then only you are allowed to take on the advanced course. I gave the instructor all the fun of advance course in the training only, I drove the vehicle on an inclined tree, into bushes and on almost everything which was out of track. The instructor was not amused though and didn’t allow me to take on advance course. I had to finally be the pillion rider on Chetan’s ATV and I realized that the instructor has done a favor to me as the advanced track was really difficult, with acute steeps surrounded by pointy volcanic rocks. Any accident could have led to a serious injury. The view was awesome just like some 3D game
with Halla Mountain on the one side and sea on the other.
Our next stop happened to be a crocodile park, where performers do tricks involving crocodiles. It was surprising to see how the ferocious animal was tamed by humans to perform tricks like a dog. Somehow it left me with a bad taste and I didn’t enjoy the circus much. In the same facility there was a small zoo and museum. They have kept some exotic reptiles for the show and there was also a ghost house kind of section which was okay.
On the way back it was getting dark so we visited the beach near to our resort and had some nice sea food with drinks.
Passage to hell
Unlike yesterday today was sunny and we were heading towards one of the world’s largest Lava Tube system. Manjangul as its called is considered 300,000 years old and despite it age it has been kept in a very good condition. Although there are many caves but due to extreme importance of these caves for geological research only one is open for regular visitors. A lava tube system is formed in the volcanic region. When lava flows out under the surface it creates a cave like structure. Lava tubes provide an Unparalleled view of the underground world. The flowing lava makes interesting structures while its cooling off , known as Lava stalactites or lava stalagmites, lava columns, lava flowstone, lava helictites, lava blisters, cave coral, benches, lava rafts, lava bridges, lava shelves, grooved lava striations and ropy lava. Manajangul hosts the world’s largest Lava Pillar which was formed when a stream of lava broke into a
tube below and froze.
The entrance had stairs going down to the opening of a mile long cave. It was artificially lit with bulbs of low intensity to protect the walls. Light inside was low for my point and shoot camera so pictures aren’t very clear. It was an amazing sight and we thoroughly enjoyed the walk inside the lava tube witnessing various interesting forms made out of solid lava.
We both were very excited with our experience and wanted to top it off with some adventure. So next we headed towards a popular beach for some water sports. Hyeopjae Beach is one of the finest white sand beaches in Jeju. We hired two Jet skis and unlike Goa here you can drive the machine all by yourself. I took all the frustration of the previous day’s ATV ride on this and drove it to max speed.
On the waves the Ski was jumping 3 to 4 feet high. It was a very thrilling experience and the Ski person praised me on my control over the boat in such a high speed. So the lesson is never judge a ski driver on his ATV driving skills
Afterwards we just strolled on the lovely beach. We saw lots of interesting mollusks life forms developing on volcanic rocks. On the beach we met a local who used to be with a ship company and had visited Mumbai and Delhi. He had some found memories of his Indian visit and was very happy to share them with us.
Once again as it was time to say goodbye. We felt two days were way too less to enjoy the wonderland called Jeju. It’s a great place with much more to see and do specially a hike to top of Halla Mountain. So if you are visiting South Korea make sure to visit Jeju. You will have an experience of a life time. As we were waiting for flight at Jeju Airport, all my work related problems crowded my head which I had completely had forgotten during past two days.
But I knew I have charged my self up for another sleepless week to get the work done. I want to sincerely thank Chetan, who forced me here and made this trip possible. I would like to thank Mr. Ryu (Chetan’s friend) and his lovely girlfriend who made all the bookings for us for Jeju. I hope I can go back one day to explore the rest of it.
PS. Keeping up with the popular trend for releasing prequel later I will publish “Sparkling Korea: Seoul
and Busan” in due course.