Jeju Island, South Korea
Korea’s Hawaii, A Volcanic Honeymoon Island of Waterfalls, Swaying Palm Trees & A UNESCO-Listed Lava Tube (& Love Land)
Manjanggul Lava Tube, Jeju Island, South Korea. July 16, 2011
Jeju-do (island) is a small island – although it’s still South Korea’s largest – situated in the East China Sea some 100 kilometres south of the Korean mainland. I’d been meaning to pay a visit to the volcanic island for a while. I’d heard the tags – Korea’s ‘Honeymoon Island’, the ‘Korean Hawaii’, complete with palm trees, beaches & a volcano, Hallasan (Mount Halla), a massive shield volcano & the country’s highest peak. Jeju had me intrigued. Had me intrigued for a while. So I decided to pay it a visit all the way from the Korean capital on the mainland. I spent two days touring the island, one of South Korea’s nine provinces – day one was spent zipping around on a scooter visiting some of the islands’ most well-known sights while day two was spent nursing sunburn & experiencing the island’s most unique & most erotic attraction.
The second waterfall I visited was the much more impressive and accessible Jeongbang falls. At 23 meters, it is only one meter taller than Cheonjiyeon falls but its location, falling into a pool right by the sea, makes it all the more impressive looking. According to some sources, no doubt most of them Korean, Jeongbang falls is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly in the ocean, even though it technically doesn’t (although it does come mighty close).
UPDATE – November 11th, 2011: Jeju Island, A New7Wonder of Nature
Following a 4-year initiative, Jeju Island has been added to the New7Wonders of Nature list. The list, peculiarly named considering there is no preceding ‘old’ list, was chosen by Joe & Josephine Public through a global internet poll, with Jeju garnering enough of the some 100 million votes cast to crack the list. Personally I didn’t think little-known Jeju stood a chance – of the 28 finalists there were what I would consider better known, more deserving options, including the likes of the Grand Canyon, Uluru (Ayers Rock) & Galapagos. That said, & with the benefit of hindsight, I should have suspected Jeju would do well given South Korea’s ‘connected’ status & the fact that the final list was determined by an internet poll (did the Mud Volcanoes in Azerbaijan really stand a chance?).
Seongsan Ilchubong (Sunrise Peak)
One of the most recognisable natural features of Jeju-do is Seongsan Ilchubong (Sunrise Peak), located at the extreme east of the island. It’s a 180-metre high tuff (hard volcanic rock composed of compacted volcanic ash) volcano & scaling its 600+ steps to take in a Jeju sunrise is one of the Jeju’s most popular must-dos. Not that I did; after taking over an hour to scooter here from my base in the southern city of Seogwipo (where the two aforementioned waterfalls are to be found), I preferred to view Seongsan Ilchubong from afar, a much more relaxing pursuit.