September Round Up

Lots of great things happened in September. Dean and I have gotten much more settled into life here and have gotten over our home-sickness period (We even have an oven now so I can do some home baking!!). We have met many more foreigners in Jeonju, most of them being from South Africa and they live right around the corner from us, which is great. It’s really nice to finally have met a whole lot of people compared to when we first arrived and thought no foreigners lived in Jeonju! September also saw a visit from Dean’s mom, Sue, over our Chuseouk (Korean thanksgiving) holiday when we spent 4 great days in Seoul. We also have a new addition…Luna! Luna is a rescued street cat (her cut ear is to show animal control she has been spayed) and is just the sweetest and craziest little cat. We love having her.

To top it off, I also invested in a new camera (thanks to Sue's inspiration and help) and I am looking forward to learning more about photography and hopefully taking some really nice pictures. 

Jeju Island-Day 2

Our day 2 on Jeju Island was jam-packed. We got up early and headed to the town of Seongsan to visit the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of Ilchulbong or “Sunrise Peak”. Jeju is the first place in the world to receive the UNESCO triple crown. After some dolhareubang chocolates, a quick stop at a black sand beach and breakfast at Starbuck we started our trek up Sunrise Peak. 

Many mandarin oranges grow on the island so there are many orange flavored chocolates and other goods. Oranges weren't in season when we visited but they hang fake oranges on the trees for photo opportunities (of course Korea).

A black sand beach with Sunrise Peak in the background. 

Our neat little car.

Sunrise Peak is a cone type mountain that really looks amazing from aerial views but you can hike up 180m to the crater to look over Seongsan and Udo Island in the distance. 

The busy walk up to the top. 

At the top-looking across the crater.

Looking across to Udo Island. Although a really popular island in Jeju, we didn't manage to visit it. The side of the island looks like a baboon face doesn't it?

When we were in Seongsan we were lucky to see some of the famous Jeju diving grannies. These women dive for shellfish and urchins without any breathing equipment for many minutes. The tradition started when men found loopholes in the law that they would not have to pay tax if their wives did the work. So instead the wives would dive for food and the men would look after the children. Some of these women are as old as 70. The tradition of the diving grannies is fading and so we were lucky to see some.

Getting ready to go diving. She wouldn't let us get a proper picture of her. 

We had a most enjoyable visit to the Jeju Maze Park. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a real maze and it was good fun trying to find our way to the centre to ring the bell. The Jeju Maze Park was actually developed by a western man who loves living in Jeju. He must also love cats because the park has a bit of an underlying cat theme and there are about 20 cats hanging around the entrance. 

Styling in raincoats.

Around the corner from the maze is Manjanggul Cave, another UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. The Majanngul Cave is a long (13km but long about 1km is open to the public) underground cave formed by volcanic eruptions. It is a famous example of lava tubes and it is one of the longest in the world and has many lava features. The cave is quite deep underground and it gets pretty cold (poor Dean didn’t have a jersey and was shivering the whole time). You walk 1km to the end of the cave before you turn around and walk back. The cave really is amazing. It’s difficult to capture the experience of the cave on a camera because it is dark and water droplets sometimes mist up your lense. 

At the end of the 1km tunnel walk. 

Umbrellas are useful to avoid the water drops falling from the cave roof.

Our last stop on our second day in Jeju was Yongduam or “Dragon Head Rock”. The rock formation is along the seafront of Jeju-si and is a big tourist attraction. We visited in the evening and it was very busy. I’m not quite sure what the hype is about but it is clearly very popular. 

Walking along the promenade. 

I'm not quite convinced I can see the dragon...

Deokjin Park, Cat Cafe, Jeonju Zoo

Deokjin Park is famous for its bed of lotus flowers that cover half of the huge pond in the park. It is also the representative park of Jeonju. It is not a very touristy place and is mainly filled with locals enjoying the park and having picnics. We paid it a visit on a Saturday afternoon. There was a lovely atmosphere in the park with lots of children running around happily. Kids are always everywhere in Jeonju, I think it is because they need to escape their apartments and don’t have the luxury of their own gardens at home. We strolled around the park, taking pictures of the lotus flowers and walked across the suspension bridge in the middle of the pond. There are also some little wooden bridges where you can walk across the lotus section and enjoy the views from the pagodas. Unfortunately the light was not that great for taking photos, being all overcast and bright, so I think we will have to return to the park one morning in July when the lotuses are in full bloom and get some good shots. 

Some funny statues in the park.

Some ladies enjoying sitting in the pagoda.

Dean checking out a lambourgini

Silk worm pupae for sale (eeew and it STINKS).

Some poor children doing homework in the park.

Opposite Deokjin Park, much to our delight, is a cat café (this may have been a contributing factor why we were so eager to go to the area). The café is not very obvious (on the third floor) and you probably wouldn’t notice it was there unless you knew about it. Luckily one of our teachers had checked on Naver because we couldn’t find anything on Google. We were both in need of some animal contact so the cat café was just what we needed. Now, these kinds of cafes are very popular in Korea. You get dog cafes, cat cafes, sheep cafes, hello kitty cafes just to mention a few. We plan to visit a lot of these (though they are mainly in Seoul). But the Jeonju cat café was a great place to start. We wondered in to the café where we swopped our shoes for slippers and sanitized our hands. Basically at these cafes you just order a drink and get to play with cats and watch them have fun. This was a well done café as the cats were in good condition, seemed very happy with life and were very friendly. It is a bit of a cat’s paradise with scratch posts, toys, heaters and overhead running tracks everywhere. I can’t wait to visit some other cafes and it will definitely be high up on my list when I go to Seoul. 

Feeding the cats some treats (check the cool slippers)

Cats paradise. There are about 15 cats at the cafe.

Just chilling.

Some very well behaved cats!

What a beautiful cat just relaxing on our table.

Our last stop of the day was Jeonju Zoo. We were on the bus and thought “why not?” I had never been to a zoo as I think they are depressing places but we decided to give it a try. The Jeonju Zoo was no different. The actual grounds of the zoo were beautiful and they were filled with families and again stacks of kids (it only costs 1300won to get in). But unfortunately, the animals all looked miserable, pacing in their small cement cages, and it broke our hearts. We felt so sorry for majestic animals like tigers, wolves, leopards etc in such tiny and unnatural cages. I guess that when the people here live in small, cement boxes, they may think it is fine for animals too.

The zoo didn't warrant many pictures except these of the beautiful flowers.