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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 2

Manjanggul Lava Cave & Gimnyeong Maze Park

We arrived at the Manjanggul Cave just in time for lunch, which was a simple (but expensive) meal at a cafe near the cave. And we were then finally ready for the walk! Here's what the official Korean tourism site says about it:

Manjanggul Cave (만장굴) is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, and is a designated natural monument. A lava tunnel is formed when the lava that was deep in the ground spouts from the peak and flows to the surface. Manjanggul Cave has a variety of interesting structures inside including 70cm lava stalagmites and the lava tube tunnels. 

I must admit the walk through the cave was one of the most exciting I've had. But it was also one of the most tiring; especially with an 11 kilogramme-load sitting in my backpack (our second son E weighs that much at 16 months). We were also privileged to witness the cave in its original form - which meant that the Jeju officials decided to leave the cave flooring untouched, and I had to negotiate the journey on the sharp and edgy rock surface. Our older son was thankfully able to walk the distance with the help of my father-in-law and sister-in-law, who took turns to guide him across the uneven terrain.

Our little Z was clearly in awe at all the structures
in the cave, covering the entire walk himself.

Resting our tired limbs towards the end of the walk.
By the time we left the cave, it was almost late afternoon. But we still wanted to squeeze in a trip to the Gimnyeong Maze Park, a hedge maze which supposedly takes only 5 minutes to complete if you use a map. We decided to go it alone, and ended up rather lost; something that got more and more scary as the daylight faded away and we were left wandering in the dark both tired and cold. Thankfully the maze officials were at hand to lead us out (we were rather embarassed when we learned that only some 10% of visitors had to be "rescued" since it was first opened in 1987).

Our two boys in good spirits before the maze.


Seongsan Ichulbong & Seopjikoji 

After a good night's rest, we were again in good spirits as we drove east to conquer one of the island's most spectacular sights - the majestic Seongsan Ichulbong. Also known as "sunrise peak" because travellers often ascend it just in time to see the sunrise, this gigantic rock formation was a result of a volcanic eruption many years ago. When we did research on where to go in Jeju, Seongsan Ichulbong came up top of most tourist itineraries. Having visiting it, I can totally understand why the experience has been hailed as one of the island's best.

My sister-in-law Andrea at the foot of Seongsan Ichulbong

The seafood is freshest near the foot of the mountain.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants there.

The view as we ascended the mountain.

Our brave son Z climbing with Mummy.

The view from the side of the mountain.

Where the mountains touch the sea...

Our younger son E enjoying a beauty nap on Daddy's back.

Almost to the top....

Group shot at the peak of Seongsan Ichulbong

Reaching the end of the descent.

Always a beauty.

The little fishing area below the mountain. It was unfortunately
too late for us to explore the area there.
As we got back into our car. we couldn't help but take in a deep breath. For we had scaled one of the most scenic mountains in Jeju. And this was only our third day there!

A quiet drive to the coastal shore of Seopjikoji left our eyes open in wide-eyed wonder. Jeju is truly a scenic island, and there's so much to take in along the coast. Unfortunately it was almost sundown by the time we arrived, and the sea winds were merciless on our bodies. So we quickly snapped a few photos before running back to the warmth of our car.

The Seopjikoji coast.

My wife Sue with the famous Seopjikoji lighthouse
in the background.

The famous house which was featured prominently in the Korean
drama serial "All In".
As the day came to an end, we resumed our long drive back to the comfort of our hotel - just in time for dinner. 

Next: The unique butterflies of Psyche World & the spectacular Jeju Aqua Planet. Click here to read more.

To read our earlier post on our arrival and visit to the Sangunburi Crater, click here.

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