After watching sunrise at the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, we decided to head toward the coastline of Seopjikoji. As we walked toward the bus stop, a cab stopped for us, and we hopped in. Turns out the bus doesn’t take you all the way to the parking lot. The fare from the main road to the parking lot of Seopjiko, is the base fare, and it makes good sense to reach before tourists start pouring in. This particular coastline has featured in a number of Korean dramas making it a magnet for K-Drama fans.
Although, we aren’t hooked on K-Dramas, Seopjikoji’s coastline looked stunning in all pictures. That was reason enough for us to make it here. And, once we reached the parking lot, with a vantage view of the coast, we knew it was worth it. It’s a short walk to the lighthouse and the route snakes out as the rocky face hugs the choppy coastline. In the month of November, the winds were pretty strong, and despite being a warm sunny day — it was quite cold.
The climb to the top of the lighthouse isn’t a challenge. It’s the wind that makes it a desperate fight against the fear of losing your balance. The view from the top is quite spectacular. I wished there were fewer tourists and I could get a moment of solitude to take in the beauty. I guess, it’s the price you pay, for choosing to visit a popular tourist destination. A steady stream of tourists made it to the top, squealed at the view, clicked selfies, and walked down — only to be replaced by the next set of tourists.
The walk down was more tricky. There were many moments, in which, I thought the wind might actually want to take me along for a ride. Fortunately, the view makes you forget about those queasy moments. And as the sun shone, the waters changed from blue to green and blue again.
We continued walking toward the shore without wanting to reach anywhere. We stopped, many times, to peak over and see how far we had walked or how different the view looked. And fortunately, few tourists followed this path, because they had to make it back to their tour buses in the parking lot.
The road to nowhere lead to the edge of the rocky bed of the sea. Waves occasionally broke the silence and then, a sense of calm prevailed again. In the foreground, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak dramatically rose from the sea. Who would have thought, couple of hours back, we were on top of it — looking at this side.
We kept walking and didn’t mind the sun shining brightly or where our feet took us. And that’s what I love about walks like these. When you don’t have to reach anywhere, everywhere looks beautiful. We passed by the Haenyeo installation, Aqua Planet, and a quiet cove with empty boats. As we crossed the main street, we chanced upon another beach (my best guess would be Sinyang Beach). It was approaching noon, and on a cold day, it was deserted. It almost felt like Basil and I were marooned on a scenic beach — in the middle of nowhere. Seaweed floated on the waves and glistened in sunlight. The water were pristine and Basil was stupid enough to remove his shoes and sink his feet in the cold water. I thought it would have been stupid if I didn’t follow him.
After 20 odd minutes, we continued walking towards the peak. It was our beacon of sorts. Instead of following the main road, we turned at one of the alleys, and entered a quaint village town. Tractors, trucks, tiled rooftops, and narrow roads dominated the scene. We walked aimlessly looking to see if we could grab a bite to eat somewhere. Mildly dejected and reasonably hungry, we continued walking and realised, we might be a little lost. We did figure the way back to the main road and somewhere near the farms, an elderly lady looked at Basil and smiled. When I wished her, she was pleasantly surprised and smiled back. And that’s what I love about small towns and villages like these. The warmth is hard to find in the cities and often gets lost in towering buildings or glitzy lights.
As we crossed the main street and reached back to Gwangchigi Beach, we couldn’t believe how beautiful the sea looked. The day before, we had walked right into the sea, and it looked nothing like what we saw in front of us. We continued walking and it was getting to be a little difficult to trudge along the path. We were greeted by two Korean (Olle Trail) walkers. They were happy and surprised to see foreigners walk on the same path. And as we greeted them and waved, I realised, why I love to travel rather than stay. When we came across the Olle route marker, we knew we’d accidentally discovered one of the routes.
The Haenyeo divers performance was scheduled for the afternoon. So we walked back to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. This time, unlike our early morning hike, we paid for the entrance ticket, and walked down a steep set of stairs. Oddly enough, there was no performance for the day. So we looked around, submitted to the throes of tourism, tried to overlook environmental pollution, marvelled at the rocky bed, and hoped that hunger wouldn’t take over.
There’s a small temple (Dongamsa Temple) as you come out of the entrance and walk toward the parking lot. It’s peaceful and the chants of Buddhist hymns fill the air. In a split second, it might even be possible, to forget the chaos and tourist frenzy that surrounds the peak. If you close your eyes and try to take in everything you saw in Jeju — it might look like a time-lapse of beautiful places — made up of sun, earth, sky, wind, and sea.