Friday, August 5, 2011

Jeju: Seongsan Ilchulbong and Udo

On the east side of Jeju there's this antediluvian volcanic thing called Seongsan Ilchulbong, which name means something like "Holy Mountain Sunrise Peak," so it sounds like kind of a big deal but in practice it just means the village next to it has a lot of overpriced guest houses.  It's customary for tourists to wake real early and heave themselves up the rock to greet the dawn.

Seongsan Ilchulbong:  prepare to be mounted directly on the morrow by yours truly.

A definitive image of the Korean urban environment.

Long before Seongsan Ilchulbong had a tourism office to extract 2,000 won from every visitor there was a Buddhist temple serving a similar function.

I rolled out of bed at 4:30 and climbed 400 stairs for this?  You got me good, Jeju.

At least the village is picturesque from up here.

Some nice views were still available.

That there is Udo (literally, Cow Island, so-called because the locals think it looks like a cow from this angle.  Ha ha, rubes.)  After the lame sunrise I planned to spend the first part of the day checking it out.  The highest point of Udo, on the right, is home to a lighthouse and a lovely park.

The ocean is so boring.

At Udo I walked off the quay and onto an ATV with which I terrorized the island at great risk to my personal safety.  I'd never operated an ATV before and am not licensed to drive anything in Korea.  Here's how I did it:  I presented my Korean green card (my only ID) to a group of vehicle-renting locals, filled out an all-Korean contract (with considerable difficulty) and received cursory instruction in the vehicle's operation from a lightly crippled man who spoke no English.  I was out of there in 3 minutes.  Here's a picture of me laughing at the farce's awesomeness:

(While attempting to wear a helmet what's much too small.)

For 2 glorious hours I was king of the road.

This is what local farmers drive.  I don't even know what to call it.

That is a horse.

A bystander offered to take this picture and I was like "No thank you bro, it's better if I do it myself."

Cliffs are cool.

A parting shot of Seongsan Ilchulbong as seen from Udo.

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