We had planned to hike Mt. Hallasan on the second to last day of our Jeju trip. With the weather turning warmer and all the walking of the previous day sapping our energy levels, we cancelled the hike. If we felt better rested and the weather cooled down, we hoped to hike on the last day. There was still a lot to explore and discover in Seogwipo (South Jeju). Jeongbang Falls was a half hour bus ride away from Jungmun Beach (where we stayed) and seemed relaxing enough for a day trip.
Getting to Jeongbang Falls seemed relatively easy on the map. We had to walk, from where got off the bus, for roughly a kilometre to reach the falls. The route took us through towering residential apartments and ended at quaint coffee shops. As we approached the sea, the street was lined with seafood eateries and scuba diving rental shops. By 12:30 pm, the sun was out, the sky painted blue, and the day was turning out to be pretty scenic.
Before we crossed the street, we took some time to admire the work of an artist who had carved models of the human hand. If the sun wasn’t shining as brightly, I would have wanted to stay a little longer, and even try to interpret his/her vision titled, “The Dream”.
The signboard, on the main road, gives you multiple options to choose from. There’s Chilsimni Food Street — with the stunning view of the sea, Cheonjiyeon Falls, Natural Stone Art Museum, and Jeongbang Falls. It was tempting to see them all. Fortunately, good sense prevailed, and we let our our stomachs take the call.
There’s a boardwalk that hugs the coast and coils inwards and disappears into another trail. Tempting as it looked, we skipped it, and read the description boards instead.
Given our luck with Olle Trails, we were happy to have stumbled on Route 6. Clearly, there was no way, we could have completed this trail, but it was good to keep in mind — if we ever came back. The entrance to the falls can be a little confusing, as all the printed signs were in Korean. We overshot the entrance and walked for 20 minutes, almost trespassed private property, and came back to the start.
Never underestimate the importance of an online translator. Especially, if the script is something you cannot make sense of. The arrows should have marked a trail that lead to the falls, instead, we saw Olle Trail markers and an exhibition hall. We continued walking hoping to find the entrance to the waterfall somewhere. En route, we saw manicured gardens, stone statues, and small rivulets — probably the source of the falls.
We finally reached one of the entrances of Jeongbang Falls. A description board gave a background of the waterfall. We were too tired, maybe a bit frustrated, to read it and we continued to the ticket counter. The parking lot was filled with cars and a steady stream of Korean tourists. A long winding staircase leads you to the base of the waterfalls and it’s some effort to avoid bumping into people coming up.
At the base, there was a frenzy to click photographs. I could imagine many families were building their memories here. As Basil struggled to get his shots, without people in it, or slipping on the rocks; I sat in silence, and observed the sea. Gradually, the crowds faded, I could only hear the waves crashing on the rocks, taste the salty water of the sea, and hope that I could complete the hike on the next day.