Volcano climbing and Seong-eup folk village
Seongsan Ilchulbong Travel Blog› entry 302 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip:
I arrived into the town of Soungsan-ri, on the Western tip of Jeju-do, just as the sun was setting and got by first look at the impressive Seongsan Ilchulbong volcano, which is a sight of pilgrimage for many Koreans. I parked outside a convenience store and weighed up my options, i had to be up for sunrise, it was already nearly dark and I'd spent a lot of money on hiring the car and paying for petrol. Did i want to spend another 30,000won ($30) on a room for just a few hours, when i had the back seat of the car?
I bought some snacks and drove the car around the village to take a quick look whether i could spot any home stays or budget lodgings, but the cheapest sign i saw was for 30,000won.
I managed to doze off around 21.30 on the back seat and slept on and off reasonably well, until about 03.00 when it became bitterly cold. I hopped into the front seat of the car and turned the engine and heaters on to warm up the car. Within 15 minutes i felt pretty comfortable once more, so turned the engine off and fell back to sleep. Another 45 minutes later and i had the same problem, but this time after turning the engine on, i just fell asleep, until my alarm went off at 05.
I wiped the sleep from my eyes and drove through the deserted streets, until i found the turn off to the car park, which is situated at the bottom of the trail that leads up Seongsan Ilchulbong volcano. I didn't know what time sunrise was and i didn't want to be standing in the cold for ages at the top, so i began to work out the time of the sunrise when i was in Alishan, then take off the time difference and decided to leave it until 05.45 before making my ascent.
At the ticket office i asked the guy what time he expected the sun to rise and he said 06.00, but he appeared to be guessing, but it nevertheless made me get my arse into gear. I motored up the side of the volcano, stopping only for brief moments to take photos and enjoy the views.
At the top i found an old lady selling snacks and warm drinks and 2 other Korean men, with their standard telescopic looking SLR cameras. Interestingly, i noticed a couple of rabbits hopping around, i think they belonged to the old woman, but i couldn't say for sure. Saying this was supposed to be a place of pilgrimage, i couldn't believe that we were the only ones here!
The light was pretty good by now and you could see across to Udo Island (Cow Island) and I also had wonderful views across the rugged volcanic peaks of Jeju-do. The crater itself was covered with trees, and had a jagged edge that reached up to 182m above sea level. It was certainly an impressive place and i think it ranked as my number one spot on the island.
By 06.30 it was obvious that the sun was up behind the clouds somewhere, so the few people that were at the top began their descent back down, myself included. I might be optimistic with things like this, but you have to draw the line somewhere and not just live in blind hope! As both my camera batteries had died, i went into the toilets and charged one, whilst i brushed my teeth and tried to freshen up a bit, before setting off into the heart of the island.