The Volcanic Island of Jeju (Part 2)

South Korea > Jeju

August 2013

Our next destination, the Seongsam Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak, is location #2 in the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription for Jeju Island.

It’s located at the far eastern tip of the island, near the town of Seongsan.

Looks somewhat formidable at the entrance, it’s not going to be a trivial climb especially in this weather.

It’s late summer, but the heat and humidity are still significant, so we go to the plaza area to grab some isotonic drink and stock up the chocolates. Quite a bit of breast-beating display here but I don’t blame them.

The plaques are well-displayed, and I need my model here, for the UNESCO World Heritage Site logo, the most prestigious of them all.

Time to ascend — it’s hot and sticky but the ever-present breeze is god-send.

The path is well-constructed and we are indeed in a park. Even your baby can go for a climb.

There’s a fork, where descenders would turn right for another attraction just beyond the grassy knoll. We will go there later.

Some way up and we find a nicely done rest area. There’s another one up the hill, so overall it gives us a feeling of a stroll in the park.

A bit of geology, most welcomed.

The steps are even and wide here, but they get narrower and steeper as we near the top.

A glance back at the town of Seongsan, with the unique volcanic rocks described above framing the view.

Looking at the lagoon towards the south.

The tourist centre, with the plaza, is at the bottom, and a huge car park for visitors.

As we get higher, the view gets better. Interesting chain of hills in the distance.

Another geology lesson. ‘Five thousand years’ is not a long period, there were already advanced civilisations in Anatolia, for instance. Hardly a blink in geological term. But the whole thing rose from the ocean floor more than a hundred thousand years ago, also hardly a blink really.

Our uphill stroll looks to be nearing the end, some 20min after leaving the entrance below. Quite a pleasant climb — the breeze helps a lot.

Stepping over the rocky ledge and … WOW!

There are already spectators here, soaking in the splendid view and enjoying the gentle sea breeze.

An attempt at a panorama, which is not too shabby. You can see the crater shape of this majestic hilltop. It’s about 90m down to the ¬†middle of this huge bowl.

I also take separate pics … the left …

… the middle …

… and the right.

How does a tree end up here?

Another two more! Note the jagged rocks at the crater rim, there are 99 of them, or so they claim.

Awesome graphics, though the explanation needs polishing up.

And here it is, the summit of Seongsan Ilchulbong, all 180m of it.

The view from up here is to die for! Worth every step of the climb, no kidding.

What a landscape,  sculpted by volcanic activities over hundreds of thousands of years. You know how puny and weak you are when you see something like this before you.

Far away, wind turbines work tirelessly. This wind farm must be the one we saw from Seongeup Folk Village earlier today.

We spend some time up here, watching people as well.

Every traveler should perfect the art of people-watching. It’s a good time-waster.

Well, one final education while people-watching. Again I think the text is rather techie for most people.

Great view of the bowl shape of the top of the hill-top. I’m somewhat impressed.

Time to get down after 20min up here. We have another destination to visit.

Just a bit more than 10min to get down, half the time taken to climb. I look back at the hill in all its black volcanic glory.

Ahead, people move like ants along the fixed pathways — there seem to be something interesting to the right …

It’s a cove, but why are there people down there? By the way this spot looks vaguely familiar. Where have I seen it?

Intense activities as boats come and go.

Then I spot the huge signpost on the roof — ” … Women Divers”. Now it clicks — this is the place where the traditional women divers of Jeju work! I have seen it on telly.

The ‘Mermaids of Jeju’ risk their lives doing deep dives to catch seafood to earn a living, while their menfolk sit idle somewhere. CNN does a good story on them — please CLICK HERE to read.

From the side, the Seongsam Ilchulbong looks fierce, especially with it’s black volcanic cliffs.

Good visit, not before I snap this grand UNESCO World Heritage Site hoo-haa, they are justifiably proud of the prestigious accolade!

Minutes later we are on the road again, heading for our third and final destination — the Manjanggul Lava Caves or Tubes.

 

> TO BE CONTINUED

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