Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jeju Island, Part 1

Day 5 – Hallasan Mountain and Teddy Bear Museum
Tue 19/11/13

Early rise for breakfast at 7am. We saw many hikers today being briefed by Mr Kim at the guesthouse lobby but it was in Korean and all the hikers were Korean. I wondered what they were saying. We then proceeded to have our breakfast downstairs. A Korean hiker went up to me to offer some help as I looked a bit confused on where to get the plates and to fry the eggs. Breakfast today was rice, kimchi, spinach, fish and seaweed soup. Very healthy, very delicious and very filling! Yes, we were eating rice in the morning. I loved the sticky rice, similar like the one in Japan. 

basement cafeteria

glorious Korean breakfast

While having breakfast, we had a chat with the Korean hiker – Charles. He told us he was going to hike the Eorimok trail and it was the first day of snowing today. My heartbeat went faster upon hearing snow! I was already excited! Our original plan today was to visit Seopjikoji, Seongsan Ilchulbong and Majanggul lava tube. We heard that it would be raining today (it rained the previous day too on the day of our arrival at Jeju), but at the mountains, it would be snowing! Charles offered us if we would like to follow him, the guesthouse would send us to the bus terminal at 8.30am (free of charge) and we could take the bus to Eorimok.

After breakfast, we quickly convened to decide if we wanted to follow Charles. It was snowing and we were under prepared. We didn't have the right clothing for hiking and snow! But I was feeling too excited to miss the chance of my first snow experience (what if the next day it didn't snow?). So I proposed that we follow Charles and just hike for a short while, then turn back to our starting point and be on our way to the Teddy Bear Museum at Jungmun resort. All was agreed then, so we followed Charles. Hurrah!

At the bus terminal, Charles helped us to buy the tickets (KRW 1500 or RM 4.50) and then we immediately boarded the bus as it was ready to depart at 9am. The bus was packed with hikers, luckily we were just a bit earlier to get seats. As the bus departed towards Halla mountain, we could feel the weather getting colder and it was getting nice to snooze when I suddenly saw the first glimpse of snow! Whoa! As we climbed further we saw the forest covered with snow. It was beautiful.

Jeju bus route

Full of hikers!
We alighted at Eorimok and followed Charles to the Halla Mountain National Park (Unesco Heritage site under Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes) entrance,a further 1km flat terrain walk.

walk to entrance

snow covered trees

Peak of Halla mountain covered by thick clouds

No problems here. At the park office, we went to buy the 'aijen' as Charles called it- the spikes that we had to attach to our shoes for hiking on ice. It only cost KRW 5000 or RM15 a pair. There was no entrance fee into the park and we didn't have to register. Then Charles helped us to fasten it on our shoes. Charles seemed eager for us to follow him, but we told him our pace would be slow as we would stop a lot to take pictures and didn't want to slow him down. So after a bit more chat (he owns a restaurant in downtown Seoul serving traditional Korean food. He asked us what type of food that we could eat,and he said it was a shame we couldn't eat Jeju's specialty – the delicious black pork – according to him). After taking pictures with him, we bade farewell and hoped that we would bump into each other again at the guesthouse. That was his 6th time in Jeju, but first time hiking Halla mountain in winter.

us with Charles
I saw pictures of the Eorimok trail in summer, and it was beautiful. Now in winter, it was more beautiful than ever. Everything was covered in white, so pure, so pristine! We wanted to lie down on the snow and eat it (it was after all similar to shaved ice or ABC back home) – we did this after finishing our trek actually.

ABC anyone?

We started our hike at 10.15am, I was feeling optimistic to finish the trail. I read a blog posting of a non prepared 30 something female who finished the hike in 4 hours, in summer. So I thought by 2pm we would be on our way to Jungmun resort. So it was decided we would finish up the trail. The trail was made up of 3 stages of difficulty – hard, moderate, easy.

EORIMOK TO WITAE OREUM SHELTER - 4.7 km / 2.5 hours round-trip
Difficulty Rating:
2 - Moderate

The Eorimok Trail runs from the ticket booth at 970 m to Witae Oreum Shelter at about 1,700 m. This trail does not continue to the summit. The final 1.3 km stretch has been closed for environmental reasons since 1994. There’s no word on whether it will be opened again in the future.

The park service estimates this hike at 2 hours one-way, but it’s possible to hike up and down again in that time (not including time at the top). It begins with a series of steep, stone steps, but then evens out near the end on a length of wooden boardwalks. There’s a freshwater spring for drinking 2.4 km from the trailhead near Sajebi Hill. This route is famous for the Japanese oaks found in the Eorimok Valley and for the Sajebi grasslands.

freshwater still flowing!

At the start of the trail, we had to climb quite steep steps, but it was really calm and peaceful, we were really enjoying the scenery, ignoring all the ahujmmas and ahjussis passing us at a faster pace. We were surrounded by the snow covered trees in the mountains. But we couldn't stop too long as it would become too cold and we would get frost bites so we should just keep on hiking.

mini snowman!

Once we reached the flat terrain at the snow covered wooden boardwalks, it started to snow really heavy, and there was no protection from the trees, it was an open area. But we trudged on, determined to reach Yeongsil trail and make our way down from there. No sign of Charles, he must have reached the bottom at the other side. We saw a stream where the water was flowing at freezing temperature. 

open area at boardwalk. all white up ahead, can't see anything. unfortuntately, this was the only pix at the open area (snow too heavy, couldn't snap more)

We didn't reach Witae Oreum shelter as the snowfall was getting heavier, the wind stronger and visibility was very low. We couldn't even see what lied ahead, only white clouds. Plus the heavy snow fall were piercing our faces (we didn't have face masks / sunglasses to protect our faces), so we had to turn back. We bumped into a young man hiking from the opposite side, and he said that Yeongsil trail was a further 30 minutes. In good weather, it was OK to proceed and would be faster to reach. The oppa was very concerned with us, he even turned back around to ask us if we were OK? So sweet of him!

heavy snowfall

We finally reached back at the bottom (under bad weather, heavy snowfall) at 2.45pm (4.5 hours later). Then we lied down on the snow in victory of partly conquering Hallasan. Better than nothing right? We heated ourselves at the waiting place where we saw some hikers eating hot spicy cup noodles and were wishing we could have some. I didn't do research on halal Korean cup noodles as some were already available on the market back home. We then proceeded to the bus stop to catch the 3.34pm bus to Jungmun resort (KRW 2000 or RM6). It arrived on time alright! So there was no time wasting this time.We would be reaching Jungmun around 4.15pm so we could get a bit of rest and heat in the bus. 

Yeongsil entrance seen from the bus

The Jungmun bus stop was not in Jungmun Resort itself, so we had to hail a taxi to go to the Teddy Bear Museum (KRW 3700 or RM12), but it was not that far away, and we were tired from the hiking too. We went to the Angel in Us coffee shop for a short break and prayers outside at the verandah. 

coffee shops in Korea have this gadget which will buzz once you're coffee is ready
Then we proceeded to the Teddy Bear Museum (entrance fee KRW 8000 or RM 24). All sorts of teddy bears were on the display, from icons such as Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and Mona Lisa to teddy bears in the days of yore from the 1900s. The old teddy bears looked quite scary as there were holes and tears. Most were from Germany. There were also teddy statues outdoor where you could take pictures. We didn't buy any teddy bears here as they were very expensive. 

Teddy Bear Museum!
After that, we went for a 1 hour foot massage at the nearby spa centre (KRW30000 or RM90). No wifi at the spa centre. I was trying to search for Bagdad Restaurant address in Korean as I had left the printed one at the guesthouse. We were already hungry and wanted to have dinner. We then tried to get wifi at Starbucks but it wasn't available too. Hungry and tired, we decided to make the long way back to our gueshouse by taxi which cost us the most by far at KRW34300 or RM 105!! (about RM 35 per person). It was very far and took us about 1 hour. Since it was already almost 9pm, we weren't sure if Bagdad's kitchen would still take orders so we decided to ask the guesthouse if we could cook some eggs and rice and we would pay for them. Unfortunately, we were told the materials for cooking were not available until the next morning. So again we had biscuits, breads and oranges for dinner. Later we checked that Bagdad was opened until 11pm so we'd go tomorrow for our final dinner in Jeju and Korea (at least for this edition).



Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Aiyda,
i'm maya. i want to ask you some several question eabout hallasan since you have visited there, may i know your email address?

10:58 PM  

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