Into the Sea

There’s something about small towns. I guess, the warmth of people appeals, even before, the place can grow on you. As we left the bustle of Jeju-si (north) to head towards Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (east); the scenery, outside our window, quickly changed from towering grey monsters to flat brown plains — licked by salty waters. It took us about an hour to reach the last stop (prompted by the bus driver) from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal. We looked a little lost at the bus stop and before we could figure the route, a helpful local who didn’t speak a word of English, called up the owner of the pension house, while making her impatient bus driver wait — until she was done with the call. The owner of the pension house, a Korean woman in a fifties, promptly swung by in her car, and picked us up. If only, all trips were this easy!

We couldn’t believe how close Seongsanpo Love Pension and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak were. Our two-storied apartment had all the basic amenities, to cook our own meals, and had a view to sigh for. The owner stays in the same building and was definitely one of the warmest hosts — we’ve met.

During our stay, the restaurants (below), weren’t functional, and we decided to have a walk around — to find a good meal. Being so close to the sea, it would be hard to find anything other than seafood. It was our first meal here, so we decided to have a small celebration of sorts, and indulge in a hearty lunch of braised mackerel. Keeping our linguistic barriers aside, we smiled, and nodded to what the waiting staff recommended. The view outside was stunning and this was becoming a habit — we could’ve gotten used to.

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After a quick rest-break in the room, and a small survey of the area around Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, for our sunrise hike the next day; we head back to the main road. There’s a paved path running parallel to the green water and connecting roadway. It’s perfect for cycling or even long walks, and I think, it could be one of the well-marked trails. We didn’t have much luck with the sun, and the sky was overcast with grey clouds, and yet, everything looked pretty stunning.

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Olle-Gil Trail Marker

We kept walking (in the direction of Seopjikoji), without having to reach anywhere, or having a destination in mind. And that’s one of the best walks — you could ever set on. En route, we passed by pavilions and traditional fields (on opposite sides of the connecting road). I think, we also stumbled on the starting point of an Olle-Gil Walking Trail. My best guess would be Route 2.

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As we walked further away, we kept making small discoveries. We chanced upon a black sandy beach, Gwangchigi Beach, with a dramatic backdrop of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak — in the far distance. The water had retreated far behind and it was possible, for us, to walk on the rocky bed of the sea. Jeju is an island formed out of intense volcanic activity and walking on this slippery bed, of ancient volcanic rocks, would put any doubt to rest.

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A lot of what we saw, reminded us, of another island known for its volcanic activity — Iceland. And, we were taken by surprise with what we saw. Red algae clung to rocks, some of the rocks had turned pink, life was moving and we couldn’t identify what it was, and moss grew freely. It’s not always easy to see what lies beneath those choppy waters. It’s as if, the sea, had opened it’s treasure chest for us. And, I don’t think, it would possible to take a bad photograph here. Everything was spectacular. And, the location — was one that you see — on someone else’s travel blog, leaving you a little sore. A part of me felt that we shouldn’t have been here.

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Even death and decay looked so beautiful. It was hard not to be spellbound, in this natural world, that we clearly hadn’t done any research on.

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I didn’t believe the tourist brochures, when they wrote: Jeju is one of ‘the new 7 wonders of nature. I expected (from what I read on popular portals), Jeju to be a beach holiday getaway or a museum retreat, for those, who live in Seoul. And, I’m so glad that few people venture here, and maybe, it will be better preserved.

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It was hard to walk back and even with daylight fading — the beauty of this location — didn’t fade away.

42 responses to “Into the Sea

  1. What a striking landscape. It was interesting how, as I was reading and viewing your photos I was struck with the thought that they reminded me of your Iceland posts and then, wham, you mentioned Iceland. What an adventure. Wonderfully told and photographed as usual. xo

  2. Love small towns too because you can let the streets take you where they want without getting lost. Especially love the photo of footprints on the black sand — a great profile photo (maybe)

    • My thoughts exactly! So many winding alleys and quaint houses to admire. I have made it our profile photo for Instagram and was considering changing it for Gravatar as well. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  3. The black sand beach and those volcanic seabed rocks were amazing! I’d love to have walked there. (And the black sand beach photo and the way you placed your watermark/logo with the feet in the logo being just like the footprints in the sand, was awesome).

    • Thanks so much, Sheri! We were extremely lucky to have low tide that day and to find this place. The next day, the rocky bed was engulfed by the sea (high tide) and it looked so different. You’ve been to some amazing mountains yourself. Your hiking trips make me want to make a trip there and try being a little more brave. 🙂 Basil, my hubby, makes a good picture these days. 🙂 It’s my favourite shot too. Thanks a bunch!

  4. Even before you mentioned Iceland, it was front and center in my mind! Or even Scotland. Isn’t it fascinating how places as far removed as this and the North Atlantic can be so similar? Understandable given the way the Earth was formed but still so captivating to think about. I love the photo of the sand beach walk, too; it just looks so peaceful. As you said, a walk with no intentions is the best!

    • I did think Scotland, though we haven’t been there yet! Jeju was such a wonderful surprise. And we had good weather and that’s so important. “Understandable given the way the Earth was formed but still so captivating to think about.” My thoughts exactly. I keep comparing places and seeing how similar they can be. What if we removed names and just looked at the locations. It’s pretty similar for people too! Basil is proving to be a good muse and when he’s not forced to pose, he does really well! Thanks for stopping by, Lex! 🙂

  5. Lovely to see you enjoying South Korea in the winter-time! Though I never made it to Jeju, I was also surprised by how a few miles outside of Seoul everything was incredibly rural and vacant. Love your beach captures. Like Lex I too thought of Scotland while gazing at them.

    • Honestly, winter is gloomy in Seoul. I prefer regions outside Seoul where the landscapes get flatter. Jeju was fantastic! Almost wished I had pursued a career in Geology. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Pingback: Exploring Jeju’s Olle Routes | twobrownfeet·

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