In the beginning of this week we didn't have much work to do so the three of us (Kyle, Fritz, and myself) decided that we would like to venture around our home in Paju. Fritz had found some old military bunkers/trenches that were near our house. It seemed as if there was an endless trail of them... The fortified bunkers were well preserved and made of concrete and sand bags. The fortified area overlooked a river, which I assume is where the enemy (North Korea I believe) would try to cross. By looking at the bunkers/trenches it seems that the enemy probably wouldn't have made it very far. Anyways, the three of us went deeper into the forest to check it out. We found that the entire forest was full of these fortified barriers. It was kind of like a maze. We took a lot of pictures but were told to keep them off the internet for safety reasons. One cool thing that I got from the search was an old Korean army dog tag. I don't know what it says (some Korean letters and numbers) but it is something that I will keep forever. Overall, this experience was very cool and a once in a lifetime chance because I won't be able to see anything like this around my home in the United States.
Wednesday and Thursday were similar to the previous weeks. We searched the forest during the day on Wednesday and looked at the paddies and forest during the night. There were less frogs this week, but a lot of young frogs were found (tail from tadpole stage was still on many of them). The nights were a little longer this week because we needed to get the data entered into the computers before we left to Jeju Island on Friday.
Jeju Island has recently been chosen as one of the new 7 wonders of nature so the anticipation of arrival was killing me. The flight was about an hour long and we arrived at the airport around 5 pm. On our first night we just walked around our hostel (located in Jeju City) to explore a little bit since we didn't have much time to do anything else.
Saturday was a rainy day so we figured that we would use this opportunity to climb the largest mountain on the island, Hallasan Mountain. To climb the mountain it was expected that it would take us 4-5 hours. We arrived to the mountain a little late (around 11:30) so we had to race to the top. The reason I said we were late was because we had to reach the peak by a certain time before they would kick us off of the mountain. However, we didn't know that there were checkpoints along the way that we had to reach at certain times... When we were about 2 kilometers from the top, we noticed a sign that had been placed on the path to keep us from continuing up the mountain. At that point I had felt defeated. We had climbed for hours only to be stopped from reaching the peak. There was nothing that we could do except relax a little bit before making the decent. Once reaching the bottom I thought that the day had been a waste, but when I look back I can still say that I climbed the mountain and did as much as I could. Also, the rain and fog were limiting the visibility, so I don't think the view would have been good from the top anyways (if we could have even seen anything).
On Sunday we decided to visit a couple waterfalls and Jungmun Beach. The first waterfall that we visited (Jeongbang Waterfall) was one that went straight into the ocean. The pictures can do most of the describing. After, we walked to another waterfall (Chiyeonjiyeon Waterfall) where the pictures and video can show you more than my words can.
When walking from one waterfall to the next we discovered a large bridge that led to a small island. We then took this bridge to explore the island. There really wasn't much on it... but Kyle found a snake and couldn't resist himself from catching it. (watch the slideshow)
Jungmun Beach is Jeju's most famous beach. When we arrived there was a surf competition. The only problem is that there were no waves for the surfers to ride. The beach was nice...even though it wasn't sunny and the water was freezing. On the beach we met some people (a guy from Virginia who now lives in Jeju, and some other locals) and played volleyball. We ended up playing for a couple hours (probably like 30 games) but it was a good time. When the sun went down we found some food and decided to sleep on the beach because we didn't have a hostel booked. It would have went perfect if there were no mosquitoes, but the next morning I had about 100 bites on my hands and legs... not fun for the next couple days.
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On Monday we went to Seongsan Illchulbong Peak. From the moment we arrived you could tell that this was a big tourist attraction because you could see a sea of people walking up the peak... The climb to the peak wasn't difficult (a stair case took us to the top) and took us about 20 minutes. The top had a shape of a crater and was filled with grass and trees. The view was pretty cool from the top (pictures to the left will show it). After our descent down the peak we walked along the bottom near the ocean. The sand down there was black and we found some cool water snails (or whatever they're called) while walking on the rocks. The peak was the only attraction we saw this day because we had to travel a pretty far and were very tired from our shortage of sleep on the beach the night before.
On our last day in Jeju we traveled to some caves. On our way to Manjanggul Cave (Jeju's largest lava tube, which runs 13 km) we discovered another cave that wasn't open to the public. Of course this interested us, so we went behind the fence and explored. The cave was very dark (of course, but I guess I didn't fully understand how dark it would be). The cave was probably about 1km before it ended. Along the way we found one bat... there might have been more but we didn't see any. Anyways, after our exploration in that cave we continued our walk to Manjanggul Cave. This cave as I said is 13 km, but only 1km is open to the public. It was very cool, but I can't describe it like my pictures.
Before our flight later that night we decided to stop at a beach. The one that was close to the airport was the black sand beach. I had never been on a black sand beach so I thought it would be cool to see. The water was very cold so I didn't swim long, but we did meet some locals on the beach that offered us drinks. They spoke little english so it made it difficult, yet fun, to try to communicate. By the end we became "brothers" with them (their words). And an interesting thing is that one of them rode in our taxi only to pay for our ride. He wasn't even going to the airport to leave... just wanted to make sure that we got there and then ended up paying for our ride... I don't think that this would happen in America (it could, but I think it would be unlikely). We even offered him money, but he wouldn't except it. I was shocked at what had just occurred but was very thankful. Next stop was back to Paju.
Jeju Island was a very fun experience. It was a little expensive but worth every penny. I wish I could have stayed there but now its time to get back to what I originally came to South Korea for...research.