Part Four: (Click here for Part One, Part Two or Part Three)
The next morning I woke early again to watch the sunrise from the beach. Little did I know that the very spot where we had camped was the exact same spot that tourist buses take their guests to watch the sun rise from behind Sunrise Peak. As I set up my tripod, and Roxy sniffed around the black lava beach sand (amazing by the way), I realized that hordes of photography tourists where piling in all around me. On one hand I was thrilled that we had inadvertently camped on the most perfect of all spots to be for a photographic opportunity, but on the other I hoped that everyone would be quiet enough to keep my family from waking up. Roxy wasn’t sure what all the black blobs emerging from the distance were and, being that she’s only five months old, did what any inexperienced dog would do. Sat next to me and softly growled. The growl was soft enough not to alarm, but loud enough to be heard, and to my delight, kept an invisible bubble all around me so that I was then free to photograph as I wished. Good dog.
In this picture you can see our tent which was just behind me while I took pictures of the rising sun. After breakfast we packed up our campsite again and headed out for some more sightseeing. Our first stop was the estuary at Hahyo Soesokkak Beach. The water here reminds of me of the book The Blue Lagoon. Yes, those are glass bottom kayaks folks!
From there we headed just down the road to Jeongbang Falls (daily 8-5:30pm), known as the only waterfall in Asia that plunges directly into the sea. It was midday when we arrived, so the lighting was less than ideal for photography, but hey, you win some and you lose some. The midday sun did make the falls all the more enjoyable for the family, however. We all took our shoes off and played in the cool water and mist at the base of the falls.
Photographing a waterfall presented a new challenge for me. I wanted to get close to the falls and use my wide-angle lens so that as much of the area could be seen. But this meant that I had to be quite close the falling water which was spewing spray and mist at who knows how many gallons per second. My camera was protected by a rain sleeve, but covering the lens when you want to snap a picture is impossible. My plan was to preset the settings as best as I could before getting in front of the waterfall. I would then position myself for the shot, remove the lens cap, and fire the shutter as fast as I could before my lens became completely covered in water.
My first try out was a failure. I was soaked to the bone in a matter of seconds and my shutter wouldn’t fire. I went back to the bank of the falls to troubleshoot and quickly realized that I’d left my shutter on timer from the family shot I took a little farther away from the falls. Settings fixed and lens wiped dry, I headed back out to the pool underneath the falls. This time I got the shot, although it isn’t as magical as I’d like. Still, it was a sight to behold and I’ll treasure it in my memories for the rest of my life.
Looking in the other direction from the falls were amazing boulders that seem to have fallen into their place thousands of years ago as well as a small island. Islands like these dot the circumference of Jeju’s coastline.
After cooling off in the water of the falls we said goodbye to the beach and the beautiful sea water of Jeju for the mountain region of the island. Along our way inland we came across a horse farm where pregnant ponies roamed the lush hillside in a dreamy and serene sort of way. Looking across the fields of thick grass and Korean pines as the fading sun shone on the feeding animals I felt as though I had been transported into one of my girl’s fairy tale books. As a horse lover, the place felt magical to me. Really, that’s the best way I can describe it.
Just on the other side of the road from the ponies was this grassy field, flanked by more majestic Korean pines.
We continued around the base of the Mount Hallasan in search of the Gwaneumsa Trail head. This trail is the only one I could find in my research with an official camping area, complete with pay-as-you-go showers.
Also, this trail is one of two that actually terminate at the summit of Mount Hallasan. I didn’t figure the whole family would make it to the top, but hey, a girl can dream can’t she? (For all the information you need on which trail to hike and why please visit this site.) Alas, upon arrival we were quickly turned down at the mere mention of a dog. I turned on my helpless foreigner look which brought nothing more than brisk wave with a hand that held no remorse for sending a family on their way to who knows where. If you plan to bring your dog on your trip to Jeju, know that you will have to hike unofficial trails because you will not be able to schmooze your way past these forest rangers.
I remained undaunted. We turned around and headed farther down the road until we spotted a turn off that looked somewhat remote (so no one would tell us to leave). Our makeshift campsite wasn’t five minutes down the road from where all the other campers had paid to stay. Sure, Bill had to clear the land a bit to get our tent to lay flat but hey, our dog was with us and it was all an adventure anyway! By now Bill and I were expert tent setter-uppers. I was glad for that because all I could think about were the showers five minutes down the road. Even my son, who I have to remind to take a shower, was now asking when he could clean up. It had been four days since any of us had experienced clean running water down our backs and over our faces. My girl’s hair was beginning to look like Bob Marley’s. We set that tent up in record time and piled back into the truck, anticipating clean skin.
The showers were out-of-order.
“Broken,” the forest ranger motioned to us in a giant X with his forearms. All five of us just stood there and stared at him. We knew what he was trying to say, we’d played charades before, but we were in such a state of disbelief that no one knew what to do next. “No workie” he motioned again.
“Like, how broken?” I tried to motion back.
“Ummm…ice,” he motioned by shivering and wrapping his arms around his body.
“That’s OK!” Bill and I exclaimed at the same time in overly excited voices. The ranger looked from us to the kids. “Ice,” he repeated.
I tried to think of how to explain to this man with body language that I was filthy. That my kids were filthy. That I wanted to look everyone over for ticks. That if I didn’t feel fresh water and soap on my skin in the next 10 minutes I might choke him.
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