Technically, we only spent 1.5 days in Jeju Island, not including our arrival on Saturday night. The itinerary for the full first day as recommended by our friendly Airbnb host, Eugene, was:
Seongsan Ilchubong - Seopjikoji - Seongeup Folk Village - Sangumburi - Jeolmul Forest
FYI, the optimal Jeju trip would be at least 3 days to cover all the major spots. Since we did not have the luxury of time, our itinerary was quite tiring as we also managed to squeeze in Dongmun market at the end of the day. According to Eugene, the spots she recommended were some of the best places to experience the natural beauty of Jeju and since the largest amount of time was spent at the must-go UNESCO heritage site which is Seongsan Ilchubong or Sunrise Peak, I will dedicate this entire post to it~ XD
We started our trip at 9.00am in the morning, with the ominous question from our friendly driver, Mr Kim, about the contents of our breakfast. When told we only had bread and juice, he immediately stopped and got us some rice rolls for 'more energy', he said. We would find out the reason why a short while later...
Jeju is so awesomely beautiful, there is some sort of greenery at every turn. Tree-lined roads are the norm here~~
Spotted this ship by the side of the road on the way to Sunrise Peak and we stopped to take pictures, but I can't find any information on this structure in the middle of nowhere, weird...
First thing I wanted to do when we arrived was to take a picture with the Dol Hareubang statue that I had been eagerly waiting to see, found out later that the entire island is littered with them, hahaha..
Wefie with mr stone statue~
A view of the crowded parking lot so early in the morning. See the buildings behind? My colleagues who had joined a tour group to Jeju just before I went told me that they had explored in that direction which was the direct opposite of the direction we took, and thus skipped a lot of strenuous legwork.. XD
Right at the entrance, with Seongsan looming behind us
We started on the trail which you can see on the right side of the pic, together with our driver, Mr Kim, who came along with us part of the way. Shortly after, he pointed us to the trail proper and told us that we would have 'free time', i.e. we could take as much time as we liked to explore the place. We were happily looking at the view around us and didn't think much of what would be ahead -___-
Spotted some Haenyeo (literally 'sea women') selling fresh seafood
Abalone to be eaten raw, which we didn't try *regret*
Some way along the trail.. The building was where we saw the Haenyeo earlier @@
Before we knew it, we were along the ascending trail with no place to u-turn. Seriously, the only way to go is up. We were still happily taking photos despite the heat (I thought Jeju would be cooler end October and the t-shirt I was wearing is a heat-tech from Uniqlo, urghhhhh, full of regret and sweat).
Still in the mood on the way up
See the steps! About halfway up, my happy expression started to waver, hahaha..
I think I really burned lots of calories and the bf managed to even lose the soles of his shoes during the climb but we finally made it to the top of Seongsan Ilchubong! At that point, we were all sweaty and red from the 11am+ sun, lol..
We look so smiley in this pic
In reality, it was so sunny and glaring, we just wanted to hurry and get it over with. No choice, must take a photo with the sign to prove we did actually get to the top.
The awesome view from the top!
Opposite angle, that's the edge of the crater
This is what Seongsan Ilchubong actually looks like, and we had climbed all the way up to the top *gasp*!!! We're crazy!!!! (Pic taken off Wikipedia)
Some more view of the edge of the crater, there wasn't much to see and I was slightly disappointed actually.. Couldn't wait to go back down to grab some cold drinks or something, lol..
What comes up must go down, sigh....
Scary looking right?! (the steps, not me -_______-)
Can clearly see the beads of sweat on our faces if you zoom in, lol
Cut to some nice view to distract you
At last! The end of the trail!
Going down was quite uneventful since we were jogging down to save time and we made it down in like a quarter of the time we spent going up, haha.. We had spent almost 2 hours at just one attraction and we needed to speed up in order to complete our itinerary. Didn't even have time to explore the shops in town and then we had to leave to go to Seopjikoji.
Extra itinerary - shoe buying!~
Poor guy's Adidas shoes died and went to shoe heaven after the staircase climbing session and we had to stop at some shop recommended by our awesome driver (more on him later if I have the time). He then teased us that these new shoes were made in Korea compared to the Adidas that was made in China XD
Champion brand sneakers for KRW40,000, hahaha...
As an afterthought, it was a really good experience, climbing to the top of Seongsan Ilchubong, an achievement, in fact, as many tourists may opt to skip it. I would advise those who seldom exercise think twice before going up though, as it is quite tiring. Our muscles ached like crazy the following day, hahahha.. (and I actually walk quite a fair bit usually, not like I don't do any exercise) =.= I really salute those local grandpas and grandmas who hike up the trail as exercise, and there were quite a lot of them. I was truly amazed... Next stop Seopjikoji~