Sabtu, 22 Desember 2012

Exploring Jeju-Do: NATURAL WONDERS

Because of its volcanic history, Jeju-do has some fascinating basalt rock formations, lovely beaches, stunning waterfalls, and other natural phenomena to explore.

Bijarim Forest 
Designated a natural monument, this pine forest has about 2,800 trees, ranging from 500 to 800 years old. This is the largest bija namu (torreya tree) forest in the world. The oldest tree of all of these beauties can be found in the middle of the forest. Looming over 25m (82 ft.) tall with a girth of about 6m (20 ft.), it is called the ancestor of all the bija trees. There is a nice path provided for a leisurely walk through the forest.

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall   
Not to be confused with the Cheonjeyeon waterfall in the Jungmun Resort, the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is located in a narrow valley in the coastal hills near Seogwipo Port. Its name means “where the sky (cheon) meets the land (ji).” Especially nice in the evening (when they light the water), the path to the waterfall is through a lush garden of subtropical plants. The pond into which the water falls is home to migrating ducks and the Korean marbled eel, one of many national treasures.
Jeongbang Waterfall   
One of the three most famous falls on Jeju-do, the Jeongbang Waterfall is said to be the only one in Asia in which the water falls into the ocean. The water falling from 23m (75 ft.) is a dramatic sight to behold. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction since the only way down is a set of steel steps and the rocks get slippery from the water. If you walk about 300m (984 ft.) east, you’ll see a smaller fall, the Sojeongbang Waterfall, a cool place to beat the summer heat.

Jusangjeolli Cliffs 
Thousands of years ago, when Hallasan was an active volcano, the lava flowing down to the ocean created the Jusangjeolli Cliffs, off the Jungmun Daepo Coast. The rocks that make up these cliffs have been sculpted by the elements into a series of hexagonal and cubic pillars. The rock formations look like they’ve been hardcarved, though they are solely the work of Mother Nature.

Manjang-gul (Manjang Cave)   
The world’s largest lava cave, Manjang-gul was created centuries ago, back when Hallasan was still an active volcano. Only the first kilometer (half mile) of the 13km (8-mile) cave is open to the public, but that’s enough to give you a good glimpse of its impressive rock formations and stalactites. The inside temperature is always cool no matter how hot it is outside. Although the cave is well lit, watch your step because the humidity makes the rocks slippery.

Sanbang-gulsa (Sanbang Grotto)  
Local legend has it that the top of Mt. Halla was taken off and thrown away, and that piece became Mt. Sanbang. On the southwestern side of Sanbangsan is Sanbang-gul, which used to be called Sanbang Cave, but now is called a grotto since it houses a Buddha statue. This 5m-high (16-ft.) cave is where monk Hye-Il lived during the Goryeo Dynasty. From inside the cave, you can see Marado (Mara Island) and Yongmeoli Haebyeon (Dragon Head Beach)  , where Sanbangsan stretches into the ocean and looks as if a dragon’s head is going underwater. The entrance fee includes both Sanbang-gulsa and Yongmeoli Haebyeon.

Sangumburi Crater 
One of three major craters on the island, Sangumburi crater was, like the rest, a result of volcanic activity. But unlike Hallasan, this one exploded quickly, spewed relatively little lava, and left barely a trace of cone behind. In other words, if you want to see an extinct volcano, but don’t feel like climbing, this is the one to visit. There is a well-paved path from the parking lot to the crater’s rim. You can walk around part of the rim, but the rest of it and the crater itself are off-limits. Around the grounds are several traditional Jeju-style grave sites as well. Unfortunately, none of the buses from Seogwipo stops here, so you’ll have to take a taxi.

Sarabong (Sara Peak)   
This mountain rises above nearby Jeju port with a lighthouse that sits on the shore at its foot. A small temple Sarasa is also nestled on its hillside. You’ll find the area dotted with young couples coming to watch the romantic sunset over the ocean. But the show doesn’t end when the sun goes down; stay a bit longer to watch the lights go up on Tap-dong and the lights of the fishing boats dotting the nearby waters. On the southeastern (inland) side of the mountain is the shrine Mochungsa, built in commemoration of those who fought against the Japanese occupation of Korea during the early part of the last century.

Seongsan Ilchulbong (“Sunrise Peak”)   
This parasitic volcano rose from the sea about 100,000 years ago. The southeastern and northern side of the crater are cliffs, but the northwestern side is a grassy hillside that connects to Seongsanpo (Seongsan Village). The ridge is good for a nice walk or a horseback ride. Bright yellow with rapeseed flowers in the springtime, it’s worth an early-morning climb to see the spectacular sunrise from the peak.

From: Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee-Frommer's South Korea 2nd

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