Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Busan Accommodation: One Way Guesthouse

For my fourth visit to Busan, I stayed at One Way Guesthouse in Dong-gu (Dong District), near Busan Station. (I have always stayed in Jung-gu (Jung District) in the past.)

12-5 Jungang-daero 196 beon-gil, Dong-gu, 48821 Busan
Telephone Number: +82 (51) 462 2500

Location. One Way Guesthouse is just a few steps from exit 4/6 of Busan Station. There is a convenience store right across the guesthouse and there are many restaurants nearby.

Room. We booked a double room with ensuite toilet and shower. (We would have preferred a twin room with two single beds, but their twin room only had bunk beds.) The room had a TV, air conditioner, small table, mirror, slippers, four power outlets (Type C/F), two hangers, and a towel bar. Shampoo, soap, hair dryer, and towels (hand towel size, which is usual in Korean hostels/guesthouses) were provided. The towel could be exchanged for a fresh one daily at the reception. Room entry is keyless—no keys to worry about, just don't forget your PIN!

Breakfast. We included breakfast when we booked the room. Breakfast—served starting at 8am—was a plate of salad, toast, jam, butter, sunny side up egg, fruit, and cup of tea or coffee. I liked that it had salad and fruit, but it was the same every day.

Price. The double room with ensuite toilet and shower only cost us 120000 krw (Php 5760) for 3 nights. That's Php 960 per person per night, and it already included breakfast.

Common Area. In the basement of One Way Guesthouse is the common area. They have a pool table and darts. There is also a kitchen where you can cook your own food.

Staff. The staff are friendly and can speak English well.

Luggage Storage. Free luggage storage is one of the services I look out for especially if my flight arrives too early for check-in or leaves too late after checkout. One Way Guesthouse allows guests to leave their luggage at the common area.

Heads up!
  • We booked our room through and the 300 krw tax was not included in the price quoted in the booking confirmation.
  • One Way Guesthouse has no elevator, which can be a problem if you have large/heavy bags and your room is on the 4th floor!
  • The toilet in our room had a certain smell and it wasn't pleasant!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Jeju Olle: Udo Island

Jeju Olle is a series of trails that goes around Jeju Island plus trails around some surrounding islands—a total of 26 trails. If you hiked all 26 trails, then you would have traveled on foot 425 kilometers! Since I did not have the time (and, surely, not the energy) to do all 26 trails, I just picked two. And these two are trails that are not on Jeju Island but trails that go around two of its nearby islands: Udo Island and Gapado Island.

Udo Island was recommended by Annie, a Chinese girl (I don't know her Chinese name; she just called herself Annie) I met during my first visit to Jeju Island in the spring of 2018. I wasn't really keen on visiting Udo Island, but when I found that there was an Olle trail that goes around Udo, it went straight to my Spring 2019 itinerary.

Spring 2019 came and I was excited to finally be able to hike a Jeju Olle trail. But first we (I was traveling with a friend) had to get to Udo Island.

Approaching Udo Island

Getting to Udo Island. We took Bus 211 from Jeju City to Seongsan Port (1.5 hours, 1150 krw). At Seongsan Port, we bought roundtrip ferry tickets (8500 krw, roundtrip, per person) to Cheonjin Port in Udo Island. The ferry runs every half hour from 730am to 6pm (last trip schedule depends on the month; the last trip could be as early as 5pm in winter) and the journey takes only 15 minutes. (What surprised me about the ferry is that there are no seats. Everyone took off their shoes and found a spot on the floor to sit on. Of course, we followed suit.)

No chairs in the ferry

Getting around Udo Island. Outside Cheonjin Port in Udo Island were rental shops for bicycles, tandem bicycles, three-wheeled scooters, and motorcycles—options to get around the island, aside from walking or taking the shuttle bus.

My friend wanted to rent the cute three-wheeled scooters, but a passport and international motorcycle driver's license were required to rent a scooter or motorcycle. I was actually glad we couldn't rent (neither of us had an international motorcycle driver's license) because my main purpose in visiting Udo Island was to hike!

Cute three-wheeled scooters

You can also rent a bike or a tandem bike to get around Udo

Hiking around Udo. Jeju Olle Route 1-1 is a trail that circumnavigates Udo Island. The trail is 11.3 kilometers long and takes 4 to 5 hours to complete. Difficulty level is classified as medium. The trails are marked by blue and red ribbons, arrows (blue or orange; follow orange arrows if you are going in the reverse direction), and Ganse (horse-shaped trail markers; the head points in the direction of the route).

Blue and red ribbons as trail markers

We followed the trail in the counterclockwise direction. Just a few minutes of walking (and a bit of uphill walking) brought us to Udo-bong (Udo Peak) and Udo Lighthouse. From Udo Peak we could see Seongsan Ilchulbong, a tuff cone (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), in the distance. In the other direction, the vast sea. I wonder if, on a clear day, we could see Japan?

The wind up at the peak (which wasn't high at all, just 132.5 masl) and the wide open views were refreshing.

On our way to Udo Peak, we saw a horse and this cute little building

Seongsan Ilchulbong (far left in the background) can be seen from Udo-bong (Udo Peak)

Udo Lighthouse

When we descended the peak we passed houses, and so many fields of canola, of rye, and of barley. Most of the time, it was just us hiking. (We only saw a group of three hikers at the beginning of the trail. The rest of the trail, it was just me and my friend.) At one point, we followed overgrown paths between low stone walls that made us doubt if we were on the right path. There was also a time when we crossed fields with nary a soul in sight and we hoped and prayed no one would pop out and shoot us for trespassing.

Canola field

It was a beautiful day for a hike

Is this the right path?

Halfway along the trail, we reached Hagosudong Beach, where we found a bunch of restaurants just across. Just in time for lunch! 

Hagosudong Beach

We ate lunch at 로뎀가든 Rothem Garden. The menu was in Korean, so we just ordered their recommendation: 흑돼지주물럭 Black Pork Stew (30000 krw for 2 persons). It looked like everyone else was having it, so it must be good. And, yes, it was deliciously spicy! After eating, we spied one table having rice with egg and cheese (a little research told me it was 우도한라산볶음밥 Hallasan Fried Rice). It looked pretty good too, but we were too full to try that one.

Black Pork Stew at Rothem Garden, a restaurant facing Hagosudong Beach

After lunch, we jumped right back to hiking. We followed the rest of the trail, passing by more houses and fields. Sometimes the trail was on dirt paths, other times it just followed an asphalt road—rarely a major one since we scarcely saw cars.

We reached Cheonjin Port, the start and end point of the trail, after 4.5 hours of leisurely walk with many stops in between. Since we had time to spare before going back to Jeju Island, we rewarded ourselves with peanut ice cream (5000 krw) at Cafe 콩리.

Peanut ice cream

Would I recommend hiking Udo Island (Olle Route 1-1)? If you have time to spare and enjoy taking long, easy walks on mostly flat land (the only uphill section was going to Udo Peak/Udo Lighthouse), then, yes, go for it! But only on the cooler months. Hiking in summer might not be a good idea since there is no tree cover all throughout the route. (If you insist on hiking in summer, I have a strong feeling you will be able to eat a gallon of peanut ice cream after the hike.)

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube
What to See in Seogwipo City (soon)
Jeju Olle: Udo Island (you're here!)
Jeju Olle: Gapado Island (soon)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jeju's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Walking Above- and Below- Ground

I checked off Seongsan Ilchulbong and Halla Mountain from my "UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit" list when I visited Jeju for the first time in the spring of 2018. Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Cave would have to be accomplished on the next visit. Luckily, that opportunity came the following year.


Directions by bus: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 211 or 221 to 거문오름입구 Geomun Oreum bus stop (40 minutes).

Jeju Island has 160 lava tube systems, one of which is Geomun Oreum. What's so special about Geomun Oreum? Geomun Oreum has the largest lava tube system in the island.

Geomun Oreum is open to the public for hiking on the oreum, not in the lava tubes (except a section of Manjanggul Lava Tube, which I will get into more detail later). But you can't hike on Geomun Oreum any time, any day, because hikes are scheduled and the number of hikers per day is limited to 450. In short, advance reservation is required.

Geomun Oreum Hiking
Wednesday to Monday 9AM to 1PM
Admission fee: 2,000 won

There are three trails around Geomun Oreum to choose from:

  • Summit Course — 1.8 km / 1 hour 
  • Crater Course — 5.5 km / 2.5 hours
  • Full Course — 10 km / 3.5 hours

I signed my friend and I up for the crater course. No wonder we were the only foreign guests—the guided tour was in Korean! We made many stops, some historical (such as WWII Japanese military tunnels, and old charcoal kiln sites used from the 1900s to the 1970s), some natural (like a lava collapse trench, and a vertical lava tube). I had no clue what the guide was on about at most of them, but I am sure it was something significant. A few areas we stopped at, thankfully, had signboards with an English translation.

It was a very easy 2.5-kilometer hike: there were no steep climbs and the hiking trail was mostly on a boardwalk. I would probably have appreciated the hike more if they had an English-speaking guide or at least, an English audio guide, or even a brochure.

The highest point (456m) on Geomun Oreum

The ceiling of a lava tube collapsed and formed this "lava collapse trench" or "lava gorge"

The hiking trail was mostly on a boardwalk

Charcoal kiln site (if not for the signboard, I wouldn't have know it was what it was)

Pretty gnarly trees

9AM to 6PM
Admission fee: 3,000 won

The meeting point for the Geomun Oreum hike is at the Geomun Oreum Information Desk, which is just across the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center. For those who don't want to hike around Geomun Oreum, the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center offers an indoor museum, with an exhibit hall and a 4D theater, where one can learn about Jeju Island and its Natural Heritage sites.

While waiting for our Geomun Oreum hike, my friend and I explored Jeju World Natural Heritage Center. The museum staff enthusiastically took us (almost dragged us in his enthusiasm!) to the 4D theater since we were just in time for a show, and though the 20-minute story was entirely in Korean, we did enjoy it!

The Heritage Center is a good place to visit if you want to get a glimpse of Jeju's natural heritage sites but have no time to see (or hike, like Mount Halla or Seongsan Ilchulbong) the real thing. 

Door on the left is for the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center,
door on the right is for the Geomun Oreum Information Desk

Displays of Jeju wildlife, and projected on the background is Mount Halla's crater

A replica of what you can find in Manjanggul Lava Tube

A diorama of the inside of a lava tube

Manjanggul Lava Tube
9AM to 6PM (Closed 1st Wednesday of every month)
Admission fee: 2,000 won

Directions by bus: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 201 to 김녕리 Gimnyeong-ri bus stop (55 minutes) then transfer to bus 711-1 or 711-2 to 만장굴입구 Manjanggul bus stop (10 minutes).

Geomun Oreum has a lava tube system stretching 36 kilometers and includes one of the largest lava tubes in the world: Manjanggul Lava Tube. Manjanggul Lava Tube is about 7.4 kilometers long but only 1 kilometer is open to the public.

Manjanggul Lava Tube has three entrances; the second entrance is the only one that's open to the public. The walk through the lava tube is damp, with puddles here and there (be sure to wear waterproof shoes!). The area is lit and one can see interesting formations caused by lava flow from thousands of years ago, such as lava flowlines, lava stalactites, lava stalagmites, etc. The farther you venture into the tube, the colder it gets. And the reward as you reach the end of the 1-kilometer walk is a large lava column!

The entrance to Manjanggul Lava Tube that's open to the public

Lava column

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Jeju's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Walking Above- and Below-Ground (you're here!)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa

What's there to do in Jeju City when the sun goes down?

Iho Tewoo Beach
20 Dori-ro, Jeju City

Head on to Iho Tewoo Beach for a night swim. Just kidding. I don't even know if that's allowed. And even if it was, it was too cold to do in spring. But we went to Iho Tewoo anyway to see the sun go down behind two horse-shaped lighthouses.

Family time at Iho Tewoo Beach

Horse-shaped lighthouses

A tip: If you're coming from Jeju City center, catch the bus to Iho Tewoo an hour and a half to two hours before sundown...because the beach is a 30-minute bus ride from Jeju City. This will also give you enough time to explore the beach (which we weren't able to do because by the time we arrived, the sun was fast approaching the horizon, and the lighthouses were still about 300 meters from the beach).

115-1 Seongyo-ro, Jocheon-eup , Jeju City
9AM to 11PM
Admission fee 12,000 won

Jeju Light Art Festa, Jeju LAF for short, is a cultural space with a cafe and restaurant, shop, foot spa, zipline, and art installations. The art installations are best appreciated at night, for most of these installations are made of lights (thus the name Light Art Festa). It was precisely the art installations that lured us in this dark corner of Jeju City.

There were 14 art installations spread throughout Jeju LAF's grounds, most of them in open-air. The first one we saw reminded me of DNA, except this art installation was purple and was slowly twirling, as if attempting to hypnotize whoever was looking. This, entitled Radiosome, was by Jason Krugman. He had a couple more art installations scattered in LAF.

In a cave-like area, where there was a restaurant, were Jason Krugman's Coral (which, to me, looked like mini trees) and Urchins (like half-buried, colorful, cute sea urchins), Jean Pigozzi's Limo Land (cute creatures lurking everywhere), and, hanging from the ceiling, Lee Byung Chan's Urban Creature (which looked like jellyfish slowly moving gracefully with the water current). All these art installations (except for Limo Land) made me feel like I was in an underwater cave.

Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi

Left: Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi
Right: Coral by Jason Krugman

On the ground are creatures from Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi
and hanging above is Urban Creature by Lee Byung Chan.

Out in the open area were beautiful works by Bruce Munro called Water Towers and Field of LightThe Hut by Tom Fruin (which looked like a colorful glass house floating in a pond); The Pool by Jen Lewin (this was a fun interactive one...the color changes on the area you step on); and three of Jason Krugman's works: Particle Mass (this made me miss watching fireflies), Diatom Cluster (somehow reminded me of a playground), and Digital Geology (the changing colors of these installations were mesmerizing).

Digital Geology by Jason Krugman

Water Towers by Bruce Munro

Diatom Cluster by Jason Krugman

The Hut by Tom Fruin

Field by Bruce Munro

The Pool by Jen Lewin

Every art installation in Jeju LAF glowed more as the night grew deeper (and colder) and I wished we could have stayed (and endured the cold) longer, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end and we soon had to leave, lest we get stranded there!

A tip: Though Jeju LAF is part of Jeju City, it requires two bus rides from Jeju City center and the total travel time would be an hour. With this in mind, do not wait until Jeju LAF's closing time to catch the bus as it might be too late to catch your transfer, or worse, there might not be any buses passing by Jeju LAF by 11PM! (We left Jeju LAF around 9PM and the transfer was at some quiet, sparsely populated area—and the waiting shed in the bus stop didn't have any lights! According to the printed schedule posted in the dark waiting area, the bus we were waiting for was the second to the last one for the day. If we missed that one, or should I say, if the bus driver missed to spot us and would not stop to pick us up, we'd have to try our luck for the next and last bus. Hailing a taxi was impossible—no taxi passed us at all!)

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa (you're here!)
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube