Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cheonjeyeon Falls, Olle Trail 8 and the World Cup Stadium

This was an unexpected pleasure. I'd been informed that I was working straight through the holidays but I was given a day off at the last minute! I'm not complaining :)

Before the offer could be retracted I jumped on a bus for Jungmun in Seogwipo. The last time I'd been here I'd toured the famous Jungmun Beach as well as a chocolate museum. This time I was going to stay outside.

I had noticed a set of stairs leading off into the woods beside a large ravine so I hopped off the bus near the start of the stairs and began climbing. It's a good thing I don't mind stairs! I didn't realize it until I began that this was Olle Trail No.8. The island of Jeju has a bunch of walking trails called Olle Trails. These were started a few years ago to uncover the hidden trails that are not suitable for cars and use them to preserve some of the history of Jeju as well as to create a wonderful alternate tourist option. All the trails connect to each other so you can spend a long time walking the island. Most of these trails are too long for me to hike in one day so I haven't spent much time researching them beyond the historical factor, but I found the one trail by accident that was perfect for me :)

I enjoyed the "hike" in the woods, careful not to slip on the wooden "trail" covered in pine needles. There were several lookout points that gave expansive views of the city and island. Here is a video I took along the way.

Previously I'd seen three of the four waterfalls listed on the tourist map in Seogwipo (the overlying city that envelops Jungmun) and had heard that the biggest one, Cheonjeyeon, only really flowed after or during a big rain. Well, my day off is on Wednesday and the Tuesday prior it rained and poured the whole day and the whole night and Monday night as well so I was hoping for a spectacular waterfall.

It must not have rained as much as I felt like it did because when I caught my first glimpse of the first waterfall (there are three that make up Cheonjeyeon), well, there wasn't any water falling.

It was still a beautiful sight and I can easily picture the beauty of water cascading over the cliff of rock. I took my picture and hiked back up the several flights of stairs to continue on to the second waterfall.

This one was flowing and was surrounded by colorful trees refusing to succumb to the cold temperatures and drop their brightly hued leaves.

Most of the tourist were gathered at this location so I again took pictures and then hiked back up to continue on to the third waterfall. On the way there is the famous Seonimgyo bridge. This bridge has beautiful artwork depicting nymphs on the infrastructure.

Once across the bridge there is a random gazebo and an overlook of the second waterfall. The overlook is slightly out of the way and doesn't have good signage so I was happy to enjoy it for a moment myself before the family that followed me across the bridge decided to trail me to the lookout point. I then wandered up into the gazebo and was blown away by the spectacular colors displayed before me in the garden below.

Once I toured the courtyard area I then headed back across the bridge to the third waterfall. This waterfall was much smaller and felt more secluded than the previous two. When I arrived, there was a young couple taking silly pics. I offered to take their picture and then they took mine and they left, leaving me a brief few minutes of solitude. I sat down on a bench, leaned my head back against the railing and listened to the sounds of the water and the nature surrounding me. It was heavenly, until my head rest began jerking, alerting me that more tourist were descending the stairs.

I vacated the lookout point and wandered back up to the main courtyard area snapping a few more photos and then proceeding into town to catch a bus to my next destination, the World Cup Stadium.

I'd seen it in passing numerous times and finally decided to stop. It's not exactly what I expected. Yes, there is a big soccer field and lots of chairs, but there is also a movie theater, a spa and water park, a couple museums and businesses. Really? Is that normal for a retired sports stadium?

I didn't go to any of the side attractions, but I walked the circumference of the stadium on a nice walking/jogging track as the sun was setting. Then I boarded a bus for the long ride home.

It was a really enjoyable day and I am so glad I had the chance to get out and explore some more, but now it's back to work.

I will post a couple more entries over the holidays (non tourist related) so stay tuned! 

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