May 25, 2017

Udo and Seongsan Ilchulbong - Jeju Island Series Part 2

Udo Island, Jeju-do, South Korea

On the first part of my South Korea Series, I took you back step by step during the first day of our adventure, from our departure at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, connections in Soeul, up to our arrival in Jeju Island. This time, I will take you all the way to this magical island where nature lives hand in hand with it's amazing people.

Day 2 came and we were very excited! The night before, our Taxi Tour Guide, Mr. Bruce Hong called us and informed us that our call time for tomorrow's day tour around Jeju will be at 9 in the morning. It was originally at 7 in the morning but he informed us that it is too early so we did agree with him with the updated departure time.

My cousin Carmina visited us that morning at our room. She is also staying at Days Hotel

This trip was originally a family trip with my most favorite cousins but a lot of events happened that made them cancel the trip. I was absolutely sad because of it because the main reason I was looking forward to this trip is not just the beauty of South Korea, but because bonding time with my Viniegra cousins is just golden. But anyway, I'm sure there's still a lot of moment that we are going to be sharing in the coming years, but I have to admit, I really did miss them the whole trip! But I was still happy because one of them, Ate Carmina, was there and we got to see her and chat with her for about an hour that morning.

Mr. Bruce Hong from Jeju Taxi Tour arrived perfectly on time on the hotel lobby that morning. It was 9 in the morning and we are so ready for what's in store for us that whole day. He ran through our itinerary briefly and then he led us to his car. And so the journey began.

Bruce Hong of Jeju Taxi Tour

Mr. Bruce Hong is a happy person, and I can say that he loves his job, just as much as how he loves his beautiful island. He loves music and making videos and just like us, taking pictures. I will never forget when the song "Hello" by Adele played, he told me that he nearly cried the first time he heard of the song. Honestly. I have to agree with that. Aside from his out-going persona, Bruce is also resourceful, smart, and shows interest with our own culture and the Filipino Language. And best of all, he took amazing photographs of us, directing our poses and all. You can contact Mr. Bruce Hong through email at humt818@naver.com or through his Facebook link: Bruce Hong on Facebook

We drove for an hour due East and then around up north until we reached the northeastern coast of the island. The roads are perfectly smooth and the view around is just amazing! Fruit bearing trees, flowers, cute house, flowers, and flowers everywhere! It really is a beautiful, sunny spring day! after about an hour, the roads led us to this beautiful mountain as we get closer and closer to it. I knew what it is just from its silhouette, Jeju's famous Sunrise Peak or in their local language, Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak)

At first, I thought we are to go straight to the mountain but Bruce told us that we should go directly first to Udo Island. Udo Island is just off the northeast coast of Jeju Island where you can see different beaches and a lot of sights that will color out your memories of springtime in South Korea. When we passed by the Sunrise Peak, it was just about a few minutes when traffic started to build-up. We realize that the traffic is towards the pier where people are also heading towards to.

The tourism office on the pier was quite packed with tourists, mostly domestic tourists from all parts of South Korea. One thing we noticed is that most tourists, about 60-70% is composed of senior citizens. Groups and groups of grandmas and some grandpas flock the airports and buses and now, the ferry aboard to Udo island.

Top Deck on the Ferry to Udo Island

I chose to wear shorts because I saw that the skies are clear and the sun is shining bright that day, but yes, it was a chilly ferry ride going to Udo, but it was just a short 20 minute ride and after just a few photographs, we are on our way out of the ship. 

Right at the docks, bicycles and motorcycles are for rent. Though do take note that you need an International Drivers Licence to rent a motorcycle or any motor vehicle in Udo or anywhere else in South Korea. So we opted to hire just bicycles for 20,000 KWN for an hour and a half of use. Helmets come with it and so as something that the bike guys have placed on our bicycles. That's when we realize that the wheels that we're gonna be riding are actually electric bikes which have gears to make it faster and can even work with minimal pedaling. We hired our bikes on the shop next to a Philippine Mango Shop.


Me, My Electric Bike, in Udo Island

Biking around the island is very easy as you just have to follow the coastal trail around it. The views are spectacular! You can see the Seongsan Ilchulbong on your first few meters from the trail that goes clockwise from the docks. beaches of different sands can be passed by this trail.

The first beach that we reached is the Coral Beach. The sand is made up of nature-crushed corals which makes it a nice shade of creamy white. We stopped and took a few pictures. Of course, this trip will never be complete without a picture with my toy dog Chicosi. I always bring Chicosi, or Doggy as I call it, on my trips abroad. If I've been to 12 countries, Doggy has also been to all 12 of them.

Me and Doggy at Udo Island

A few more pedals and we are almost at the tip of the island. but before we reached the lighthouse at the north, we passed by something that gave me chills even when I was on top of my bike. Canola Fields or Rape Seed Fields are in full bloom which gives it a magnificent bed of yellow flowers over the deep blue seaside view.

These canola fields are famous to Jeju Island and can be seen on Korean dramas, one of which is Spring Waltz, which I was able to watch during my college days. I have always been a big lover of flowers and colors and blooms that is why these views are something that can really make me feel so happy from deep within. So we hopped out of our wheels and took photos, a lot of them at the Canola Fields. Oh I love the shots, makes me feel happy that I wore that deep blue shirt that complements the bright yellows and strokes of green.

Canola Fields of Udo Island

We continued biking around the island but when it seems like our time is short and we have to bring the bikes back to the shop, we decided to cut it shorter and took the detour on the second half of the trail. We were kinda lost on that detour because the streets are so narrow and the houses all look the same. We tried asking for directions but the old ladies tending their crops are having a hard time with English so good thing that the WiFi router had good signal so we just used google maps to get to our destination, where we started, on the docks.

We reached the shop just in time for our deadline and at the same time, for the next ferry going back to the Jeju mainland. It was about 2 in the afternoon when we left the docks all the way back to Jeju Island. The sun is up but the spring breeze was just so relaxing as it sweeps through my skin. When we arrived, Bruce was already there waiting for us. Next destination - Sunrise Peak.

All aboard and on our way back to Mainland Jeju.

Driving our of the pier and into the base of the Mountain gives you more amazing views of Seongsan Ilchulbong. It's unusual shape makes it very remarkable that it is what it is. As Bruce is slowly parking on an empty spot at a Korean Restaurant, there he informed us the biggest news of the day, we are climbing to the peak! WHAT! I was quite tired already from more than an hour of biking and here comes an uphill trudge. But hey, I'm in Jeju and it's a beautiful day so BRING IT!

Me, Cousin Judy, Brother Wilson, and our Guide Bruce Hong -  - Photo from Bruce Hong

The trail was not that hard because there are stone stairs going up towards the peak but still, the fact that this is uphill makes the legs squirm little by little and the heart rate goes up and up. Slowly but surely, I climb up the stairs and yes, the wonderful view of the city below, and the amazing flora that you will encounter on your way up just helps ease the efforts.

Seongsan Ilchulbong - A UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site

After about 30 minutes, we reached the top of the Sunrise Peak! The Crater is 600 meters in diameter and the Peak is at 180 meters above sea-level. Since it was spring that time we went, you can see so many hues below the mountains showing the lush and colorful vegetation of Jeju Island. Of course, while on top, Picture taking is never an option, but a sure must!

Me and My Cousin Judy on the Peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong

The descent from the peak downhill was a lot easier because there is a beautiful staircase made of wood that was built all the way down. The view is just breathtaking! The sea meets the shore meets the city meets the flower fields, everything in Jeju just lives hand in hand in perfect harmony!

Northeaster Coast of Jeju Island

And just when we thought that picture taking was over, we were wrong because Bruce has just started yet. Here he made us his subjects as he took us photos with all the poses and choreography that he asked us to do! It was so funny, he knows how to use his angles and his camera to make crazy and cute photographs!

Here are a few of the shots from his phone. Bruce sent these via Facebook. I wish we asked them for the full versions because his camera phone is very clear and the quality is so high but since he is a Samsung user and we are iPhone users, it was hard to do file transferring. (We can never master that iOS to Android on ShareIt, Okay!)

Me, Ate Judy, and my Brother Wilson at the wildflower fields - Photo by Bruce Hong

Me and Kuya Wilson on our Tekken Inspired Shot - Photo by Bruce Hong

Who says my cousin Ate Judy cannot carry me? - Photo by Bruce Hong

That was so much fun! Right there and then, we passed by Starbucks which is just at the foot of the hill, but there were no traces of the Jeju Mug so I end up getting nothing from Starbucks from Jeju (Even on the airport sadly). So we just had lunch on a Toast place called Isaac. the cafe was cool and cute.

We went straight right after late lunch to our very last destination, Jeju Mazeland. We were almost off the 9 hour time but still Bruce took us there so we can have more fun! On its name, Mazeland is a beautiful park made up of three giant Mazes that are made of hedges and bricks. The first two mazes were quite easy ones but believe me, the last one was CRAZY!

The very last one was really hard, but Bruce is just so cool! Even if we missed the 9th hour, he really did not teach us how to get out of the maze even if he can see it clearly from where he is, so we'd have an amazing and memorable time at the place.
At the entrance to that very last maze - Photo by Bruce Hong

It took us about an hour on that very last maze because it was so hard! Aside from it being very huge, the way-arounds were sometimes wide and sometime unrecognisable. some dead ends are not actually dead ends, you being furious would just miss that tiny way out to the correct path haha But still we managed to get around with smiles on our faces and when we finnaly reached the end, it was a big relief as we rang the bell (end point where you have to ring the bell which means you reached the finish line).

The last and hardest Maze - Photo by Bruce Hong

We then went all the way back to Seogwipo which took as about an hour where Bruce dropped us back to our Hotel at Days Hotel Jeju Seogwipo Ocean. While we were on the way, we passed by a road where there are windmills that are surrounded by more and more canola fields! Oh how beautiful it is! Then passing through a road where it was lined up with Cherry Blossom Trees and Canola. Too bad we were late for the Cherry Blossom season so all we had seen are budding leaves.

When we arrived, we gave Bruce his extra fee for that extra hour. He told us not to pay anymore but we insisted because his service was great and he treated us like good friends or family I can even tell. If ever we get back, we'd surely call bruce again to take us around the Island. There's still so much more to see in Jeju that makes us want to go back more!

But wait, there's more to come from Jeju Island on the third part of the South Korea Series!

My Orange Chair at Mazeland, Jeju-Do

***

Never Stop Travelling
Steven


This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/