Monday, August 27, 2012

Lava Tube Caves on Jeju Island

One of the most popular sites to visit on Jeju Island is the Manjanggul Lava Tube Cave. It's recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site and for good reason: it's an amazing piece of geological history.

the Manjanggul cave entrance is magical
Plus, it's just cool. You get to walk inside a cave created by flowing liquid hot magma. Rock so hot it turned into fiery-red-jelly-goop. How cool is that??! I think it's amazing the things our Earth can do.

The cave is dimly lit and the ground is a little uneven (because it's MAGMA rocks!!) but even wearing flip flops and a dress, I was fine. Also, the temperature inside the cave is very cool. It was a great escape from the hot, sticky heat of summer.

floor of the Manjanggul cave
They put some colored lights in to highlight some of the cooler parts of the cave. I wish I had a tripod to take some better photos of the shapes and light.

Manjanggul, Jejudo
jumping pictures with Koreans in Manjanggul :) priceless
We got there by taking the bus from the Jeju City bus terminal to the Manjanggul stop. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. Most of the people on our bus got off at our stop and there are a couple big billboards advertising the cave and another attraction along the road, a hedge maze. From the bus stop, it is about 5 kilometers inland to the cave.

We were waiting for a taxi when we decided to stick our thumbs out and a very kind professor let us pile in his car. However, his son in the back seat didn't look to happy about his dad's decision, as four of us crammed into the back seat with him. (hahaha!) The professor actually visited Fresno State for a while, which is about two hours from where I grew up. How crazy is that?? They took us as far as he was going. We walked the rest of the way, which was only about 700 meters.Thanks Mr. Kind-Sir!!

a little extra info on the Manjanggul Lava Tube

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jeju Loveland

Loveland is something completely out of the norm. It's especially strange coming from Korea's conservative culture but here it is! A sex park!

Jeju has all sorts of little (mostly awful sounding) tourist attractions. There is a teddy bear museum where teddy bears are dressed up in different costumes and posed in scenes, a glass museum where tons of stuff is made of out glass, a chocolate museum with chocolate bars from around the world, and so many more.

None of them were as appealing as walking through a park with erotic statues! Enough chatter, the pictures speak for themselves.  

It's easy to get to Loveland from Jeju city, just hop in a taxi and say "luh-vuh-land-duh" which is "Loveland" with a Korean accent. The whole park only took us a couple hours to see everything. The man working at our hotel said it was better to visit Loveland at night because they light everything up but we had other plans so went during the day. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Waterfalls in Seogwipo, Jeju

There are two famous waterfalls in Seogwipo, Cheonjiyeon (left) and Jeongbang (right). Both are easy to get to and well visited by tourists. The first waterfall we went to was Cheonjiyeon, which is located on the west side of Seogwipo city. It costs about 2,000 won (about $2) to get in per person and you walk along a very nice path lined with tall trees next to a river in a canyon. Yes, all of those glorious things in one little stretch! It was seriously beautiful.

It's a very easy trek, as it's a paved path and not very long. At the end, you see the waterfall along with tons of other people. When we were there, lines had formed to take pictures at the best photo taking spots, namely the rock below. 

I think it's funny how people (myself included!) always want to take pictures with destinations with only themselves in the picture. It doesn't really relate what the experience is like at all, but we all do it. Humans are so silly sometimes! :)   

After we visited Cheonjiyeon, we grabbed a couple taxis to the Jeongbang waterfall. It's possible to walk and there are signs (in English, too!) to help you along but it's about 5 kilometers away and it was super hot. Plus, taxis are cheap.

Jeongbang waterfall is unique because it's one of the few waterfalls in the world that flows directly into the ocean. To see it, you pay 2,000 won (once again, about $2) and walk down a bunch of steps securely built onto the cliff. You can get a glimpse of the waterfall on the way down.

Once we got down to sea level the spray from the waterfall was soooo nice. We stood around taking pictures and enjoying the cool mist while trying to get out of other people's photos and navigating the rocks. 

Both waterfalls are worth checking and could be done in half a day, easy. The hardest part is remembering to stop taking pictures and just stop, look around, and appreciate the beauty.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jeju Island: One of the New Seven Wonders of the World

Since we work at a hagwon (a private English school in Korea), we have two weeks vacation every year which are predetermined by our school: one in summer and one in winter. This year, we decided to use our summer vacation to go to Jeju Island to see what all the hype is about. Jeju Island is a popular destination for Japanese, Chinese and especially Korean tourists (of course!). We always hear about our students' trips there and it always sounds great.

The trip was especially fun because we got to spend time with all of Spencer's siblings and a few other awesome people. As you might know, Spencer's younger brother and sister are English teachers in Korea too and are living in Seoul. But his older sister is living in California and she came out to Korea to visit!! It was so great to see her and give her a glimpse into our lives over here.

I'm going to make some more specific posts about things we did in Jeju, but for now here's some of my favorite group shots I got from the trip.

brother and sisterly love
with the Cheonjiyeon waterfall in Seogwipo
Jeju Loveland
inside the Manjang lava tube cave
in the Manjang lava tube cave
at the lookout point on Seongsan Ilchulbong

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Yeosu Expo

So, we went to the Expo. Almost every single one of my students had gone, we only live about 20 minutes away on the train, and our Seoul friends really wanted to go, so we went.

I didn't really want to go because I heard it was super crowded with long lines everywhere and not enough amenities (like benches and one time even, food!) to go around. When the Expo first opened, there was a lot of negative comments about the shoddy organization. I heard some horror stories from my students and coworkers.

Yeosu Expo main walkway through the International Pavilions
Because of all of this, when we went I was expecting nothing good. I was happy to have friends visiting but beyond that, I had no hopes other than a real German beer, which I knew would be there because of a picture I saw on Facebook from another English teacher.

Let me ask you this, what better creates a perfect day than expecting nothing?? Nothing. Nothing makes for better exploration and joy than low expectations.

We had a great time making our way through the different countries. We sampled coffee in Kenya, drank beer in Russia and Germany, danced in a parade-like-thing with people from all over the world, saw cool street performances at seemingly every turn, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

mosaic in Tunisia, Yeosu Expo
beers in Germany, Yeosu Expo
acrobat from Romania, Yeosu Expo
Switzerland's awesome mirror/pool + projectors reflection room, Yeosu Expo
Thai boxing performance, Yeosu Expo
parade/dance that we eventually joined in on, Yeosu Expo
We stayed at the Expo for about 12 hours and still didn't see everything (it's HUGE!) but I'm really glad we went and I feel like I didn't miss anything I really wanted to see.  

our crew at the Yeosu Expo <3

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A terrible case of the Mondays

I thought it was going to be easy going back to work after vacation. We had nine days off and about five of those were spent on an island. We went to the beach, relaxed, saw some great waterfalls, and got to spend time with some really, really great people. We even had a couple days after our trip to just chill at home.

I expected to be recharged and ready to be patient with my little students and cram English into my older ones' heads. This is not what happened.

On Monday, every other word out of my mouth was a complaint. All I kept thinking about was how I want to keep vagabonding and not be stuck in a little room teaching and how we still have another four months to go before we can travel again. Ugh, four months seemed sooooo far away.

Just so you know, writing this now makes me feel incredibly stupid. Wah, wah, wah. I'm like a little crybaby sometimes. Four months really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, but I just couldn't help myself. I had a terrible case of the Mondays.

And honestly, Tuesday wasn't much better, either.

However, tomorrow is another day and I'll be spending part of it splashing in the kiddie pool with the five and six year olds. Look at that, I'm getting back to the positives. I just need to remember to take these four months one. day. at. a. time.