Nearly all Korean hagwon teachers get 6 days off for Summer vacation during July. We spent ours in (or on) Jeju-do. For the second time, I stayed at the Tae Gong Gak located above the Seogwipo Harbor. One of the owners even remembered me from when I went to Jeju for the Chuseok holiday last October. “Hey, I know your face. You were here with a girl last time. Where is she?” She stayed in the Hyatt Hotel in the Jungmun Resort area, which is a 30 minute ride away on the number 600 Bus.
After a day or two of drinking Chivas Regal and chatting it up with fellow vacationers by the pool at the Hyatt Hotel, we woke up early for a hike to the summit of Halla mountain in Hallasan National Park. Although this is the tallest mountain in South Korea, the incline is gradual and substantially easier to summit than the #2 mountain in Korea, Jiri-san, or the #3, Seorak-san — both of which I hiked earlier this year. Of the several routes to take, we chose the Yeongshil trail for it’s epic scenery. Unfortunately, the weather was anything but fabulous; Yeongshil ended up being a cloud maze and we couldn’t see shit. We came down through the Orimok valley which was a kilometer longer, had more stairs, and was less interesting to maneuver.
Moon’s Guide to South Korea recommended hiking the small peak of Songak-san, located on a small peninsula at Jeju’s West end and supposedly offering some of the most splendid views of Halla-san and the adjacent mound of rock called Sanbang-san. I set out the next day in search of glory and got lost in a bumfuck beach town called Moseulpo, but soon found my way to Songak-san Park via taxi for 5000 KRW. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a small black sand beach and several sea caves dug into the massive cliffs. During World War II, the Japanese forced Jeju residents to build these caves for use in suicide attacks against the Allied forces. It was a creepy area to explore. Having to worry about the collapsing hillside and look out for scurrying centipedes, crabs, and spiders, I did not dare venture into any of the caves. Probably not worth the risk anyways. As was the situation the previous day, the weather affording no magnificent view atop Songak-san. Bummer, dude.