Today’s itinerary: Mount Halla (Hallasan). Depart 7 am, return 5 pm. 4 hours to the top of the volcano, 4 hours down the other side.
Today’s reality: sleep in ‘till 9, make breakfast, ponder life, play on computer, set out for easier attractions after lunch. Professional tourist.
So today I visited Seongsan (Sunshine Peak) and Manjonggul (Manjong Cave), Jeju island’s #2 and 3 attractions, respectively. Hallasan is #1. We’ll get there tomorrow (cross your fingers.)
Hallasan is THE volcano on Jeju, but it is by no means the only one. There are probably near 100 smaller cones dotting the landscape, all of them a classic collapsed shield volcano:
Here’s one of many I passed on the 1-hour bus ride to Seongsan.
Also wind turbines. Good on you, Korea. Jeju is quite a windy place, especially at altitude, as I learned quickly on my climb.
There is probably no place on earth like Seongsan. You will soon see why. From a distance, it instantly jumps out at you. It’s connected to the mainland by a stretch of land only wide enough for a road. The “town” at its base is composed entirely of hotels and restaurants, each of which sells the exact same menu for the exact same price. I’m calling the competition bureau.
Quite crowded, even on a Thursday. There’s only one trail to the top, and you can’t leave it. You just have to join the procession. They’re very serious about protecting their world heritage sites, and they never stop reminding you that it is, in fact, a world heritage site.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s just a big rock sticking out of the ocean. We have those in Oregon.” Oh, you’ll see. You will see.
As you climb, there are some pretty ocean views.
And jagged pinnacles.
But then you get to the top…. and you see why there is no place like it on earth:
Stop flashing gangster signs, asian lady.
Yes, Seongsan may be the world’s only perfectly isolated bowl rising vertically from the sea. According to some list, it’s one of the 7 natural wonders of the world (although I think there’s more such lists than wonders by now).
From the air, it looks like this. No, I didn’t take this one, smart ass. Apparently it’s an ancient volcanic crater which has been miraculously eroded equally from all sides, forming this perfect circular bowl. Must have been an amazing place for the natives to play (when they weren’t devoting every spare minute to spamming statues). Of course, no one is allowed into the crater now.
After Seongsan, it was off to one of Jeju’s other world heritage sites (they have a few). This one is a 7-mile-long lava tube big enough to carry a train. It made for some fun long-exposure photography. I should have taken more pictures, but here I ran into some teacher friends and they didn’t feel like waiting while I played with my camera. Jackasses.
The entrance. Ooooooooh, spooky. The whole thing was quite well-developed. Every tourist attraction in Korea is well developed. In Canada, we have an outhouse and a ranger station if you’re lucky. In Korea, even the smallest attraction has a restaurant, visitor centre, nice landscaping, clean new roads, and of course, full wireless access.
With the water dripping from the roof, you get some nice splash effects with the long exposure time.
And some nice ghost effects.
And some nice jackass effects.
“You have to stand REALLY still.”
Ok, that’s a lie, I told them to move.
Still, neat place. I think they threw some of those old mill stones in the puddles to be used as stepping stones. Well, it’s not like anybody else was using them any more…
Tomorrow: Hallasan, for real!