Saturday, December 28, 2013

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 3

Psyche World 

With temperatures forecast below the 10 degree celsius mark, we decided to make changes to our itinerary and head to an indoor location. Psyche World, a museum dedicated to butterflies and other insects, appealed to us as we thought our two children would be enthralled by the live butterfly and animal feeding exhibits. We however got far more than what we bargained for - although the live butterfly exhibit happened to be closed due to bad weather, the preserved insect exhibits were by far the most interesting we have ever seen; and all of us (children and adults alike) were fascinated by the extent of creativity expanded by the museum.

Fascinating display of butterflies of so many different species.

Bug attack!

The chess player in me couldn't resist this photo.

Not really a soccer fan, but I can see how this might
bug some people...

The "Colosseum" - Quite realistic in my opinion.

Hungry anyone? Gives a new meaning to "you are what you eat"!
Fascinating to see how many butterfly species there are
around the world...
Our 3-year-old was clearly mesmerised by the exhibits.

Feeding time for the goats. The kids really loved
the small petting zoo just outside the main hall.

And little E got into the act as well, trying to catch the
two dozen or so little parakeets feeding from Daddy.
We spent many hours simply taking in the lovely exhibits at Psyche World. Just as we were exploring the outdoor exhibits, we were surprised by the unexpected - a snowstorm had chosen to make its grand entrance. At first the kids were thrilled by their first encounter with the snow. But as the snowfall became heavier, we decided that we had to call it a day. We were however unprepared for what was to come...

Z looks rather menacing here with the large
snowball in his hand...

And the victim - his poor Kong Kong,..

My sister-in-law enjoying the lovely snowscape.

Snowed in... Imagine my trepidation when I realised I had to drive
in such snowy conditions. Thankfully the roads were not slippery
and we made it back safely to the hotel. 

It was exactly like the song that my older son had been singing, "Snowy blankets on the ground..." We made a dash for the car, bundled the little ones in, and drove off into the snowy day, reaching our hotel just in time for the hot meal and a well-deserved night's rest.

Aqua Planet

I awoke the next morning with the intention to go to Hallim Park, a scenic nature spot located in the west of the island. However my in-laws were unprepared for another outdoor adventure given the surprise snowstorm the day before. We therefore decided to go instead to Aqua Planet, the largest aquarium in Asia. Looking back, it was a fantastic decision, and all of us (adults and kids) thoroughly enjoyed the day there.

Interactive displays keep the children engaged throughout our 5-hour visit.

Sue's mum takes a moment with the large fish.

A spectacular show complete with acrobatics and pyrotechnics.
We were afraid our little ones would be scared, but they kept their eyes
glued throughout the 1/2-hour show.

Traditional animal show with a twist. It's
so clear that the trainers love their animals.

Outside the aquarium. A lovely view of Seongsan Ichulbong.

Enjoyable travel companions make the trip all the more fun!

A romantic moment with the love of my life.
My son the adventurer.

And this completes the picture.

After a fulfilling day we headed back for a hearty meal and a good rest at our comfortable hotel.

Next: The majestic Hallasan and refreshing Jeongbang Falls. Click here for more of the Lim family adventures.

Previously: Click here to read about our visits to the world-renowned Mangjanggul Lava Cave, the grand old dame of rock Seongsan Ichulbong, and romantic Seopjikoji.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 2

Manjanggul Lava Cave & Gimnyeong Maze Park

We arrived at the Manjanggul Cave just in time for lunch, which was a simple (but expensive) meal at a cafe near the cave. And we were then finally ready for the walk! Here's what the official Korean tourism site says about it:

Manjanggul Cave (만장굴) is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, and is a designated natural monument. A lava tunnel is formed when the lava that was deep in the ground spouts from the peak and flows to the surface. Manjanggul Cave has a variety of interesting structures inside including 70cm lava stalagmites and the lava tube tunnels. 

I must admit the walk through the cave was one of the most exciting I've had. But it was also one of the most tiring; especially with an 11 kilogramme-load sitting in my backpack (our second son E weighs that much at 16 months). We were also privileged to witness the cave in its original form - which meant that the Jeju officials decided to leave the cave flooring untouched, and I had to negotiate the journey on the sharp and edgy rock surface. Our older son was thankfully able to walk the distance with the help of my father-in-law and sister-in-law, who took turns to guide him across the uneven terrain.

Our little Z was clearly in awe at all the structures
in the cave, covering the entire walk himself.

Resting our tired limbs towards the end of the walk.
By the time we left the cave, it was almost late afternoon. But we still wanted to squeeze in a trip to the Gimnyeong Maze Park, a hedge maze which supposedly takes only 5 minutes to complete if you use a map. We decided to go it alone, and ended up rather lost; something that got more and more scary as the daylight faded away and we were left wandering in the dark both tired and cold. Thankfully the maze officials were at hand to lead us out (we were rather embarassed when we learned that only some 10% of visitors had to be "rescued" since it was first opened in 1987).

Our two boys in good spirits before the maze.

Seongsan Ichulbong & Seopjikoji 

After a good night's rest, we were again in good spirits as we drove east to conquer one of the island's most spectacular sights - the majestic Seongsan Ichulbong. Also known as "sunrise peak" because travellers often ascend it just in time to see the sunrise, this gigantic rock formation was a result of a volcanic eruption many years ago. When we did research on where to go in Jeju, Seongsan Ichulbong came up top of most tourist itineraries. Having visiting it, I can totally understand why the experience has been hailed as one of the island's best.

My sister-in-law Andrea at the foot of Seongsan Ichulbong

The seafood is freshest near the foot of the mountain.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants there.

The view as we ascended the mountain.

Our brave son Z climbing with Mummy.

The view from the side of the mountain.

Where the mountains touch the sea...

Our younger son E enjoying a beauty nap on Daddy's back.

Almost to the top....

Group shot at the peak of Seongsan Ichulbong

Reaching the end of the descent.

Always a beauty.

The little fishing area below the mountain. It was unfortunately
too late for us to explore the area there.
As we got back into our car. we couldn't help but take in a deep breath. For we had scaled one of the most scenic mountains in Jeju. And this was only our third day there!

A quiet drive to the coastal shore of Seopjikoji left our eyes open in wide-eyed wonder. Jeju is truly a scenic island, and there's so much to take in along the coast. Unfortunately it was almost sundown by the time we arrived, and the sea winds were merciless on our bodies. So we quickly snapped a few photos before running back to the warmth of our car.

The Seopjikoji coast.

My wife Sue with the famous Seopjikoji lighthouse
in the background.

The famous house which was featured prominently in the Korean
drama serial "All In".
As the day came to an end, we resumed our long drive back to the comfort of our hotel - just in time for dinner. 

Next: The unique butterflies of Psyche World & the spectacular Jeju Aqua Planet. Click here to read more.

To read our earlier post on our arrival and visit to the Sangunburi Crater, click here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Korea 2013 - Jeju Chapter 1


After a series of flights lengthened by shifts in weather and plane delays, we finally arrived at the lovely island of Jeju, and checked into our lovely abode for the next 9 days, the comfortable Goodstay December Jeju Hotel. We were warmly welcomed by the owner Mr Kim, a kindly man whom our boys came to love over the course of our stay there. 

Enjoying our lovely room in the
Goodstay December Jeju Hotel

Famished, we headed out for a late lunch, and promptly bumped into a lady who personally recommended her restaurant. Since it was located just next to the hotel, we quickly settled in for a hearty meal of bibimbap (a Korean staple of vegetables served over rice in a hot pot), sundubu (chilli tofu stew - I ordered this to remember our first Korea trip during which Sue and I came to love this dish) and seafood stew.

After lunch we took a drive to scenic Samyang Beach. However it was already twilight by the time we arrived; moreover the weather was getting rather chilly by then. So we headed back to our hotel for an early night's rest in preparation for the next day's travels.
1st Korean meal in Jeju
Sleeping Beauty E -
tired out from the flights.

Sangumburi Crater

The next morning we awoke all refreshed and recharged. Heading to the southeast of Jeju, we arrived at the Sangumburi Crater, one of the most scenic places on our trip. The official Korea tourism website describes the crater as such:

Sangumburi (산굼부리) is a crater with a circumference of over 2 km, and has been designated as a Natural Monument. It is located on the southeast side of Jeju-si, and is a flat crater, about 650 meters wide, 100 meters deep, and 2,070 meters in circumference. 

After travelling for more than an hour, our boys were eager to get on their feet and exercise their muscles. And we were bowled over by all that we saw...

The Lim family preparing to ascend the
Samgunburi Crater
With E sitting snugly in the backpack,
Daddy and Z begin their walk to the top.

Sue, her mum and sister Andrea stop for a photo.

Andrea enjoying the walk.

A lovely swing at the top of the crater.
Only Koreans would appreciate beauty in such a manner!

Tired. One down, one more almost drifting to dreamland.

Our brave boy Z tirelessly descending the crater.

It was almost lunchtime when we finally returned to the car. Then it was off for lunch and onward to our next site - the Manjanggul Lava Cave!

Click here for the next part of the Lims' Jeju adventure.