August 7, 2014
Today we only had two things we wanted to do: go to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) and eat some of Jeju’s special pork. So we got up, grabbed donuts from a nearby market, and found the bus stop. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long and soon we were on our way to Seongsan.
Seongsan Ilchulbong is one of Jeju’s iconic sites – it was created by a hydro-volcanic eruption. The crater is 600m (1968ft.) in diameter and 90m (295 ft.) high. Though it looks like an island, its northwest side is a steeply sloped hill which connects it to Seongsan Village. Here’s what it looks like from the air, courtesy of the Jeju Tourism Organization:
You can hike up to the top of the crater and look out over the lush landscape. It was quite a climb though – I don’t think we quite knew what we were getting into when we began.
Once we reached the top, sweat running down our bodies and panting, there was a nice long viewing deck on the northwest end. We had great views of Seongsan below and the crater itself. It was quite sunny out, but as you can see in my photos, still a bit hazy.
A little video Zach made at the top:
Then we had the pleasure of climbing back down a never-ending staircase. There is a cove at the bottom of the peak where haenyeo dive. Haenyeo are female divers who don’t use any type of breathing apparatus when diving. They use flippers and goggles, a net sack tied to a float to keep their catch, and that’s all. They generally dive for abalone, octopus, and conch. It’s a fascinating group of women and it has a very long history in Jeju. Here’s an excellent article from earlier this year that provides a lot more information about the history and future of Jeju’s haenyeo: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/world/asia/hardy-divers-in-korea-strait-sea-women-are-dwindling.html?_r=0
The haenyeo dive next to Seongsan Ilchulbong in the morning and then they do two performances in the afternoon for the tourists. We weren’t sure what a “performance” entailed so we went down to check it out. Basically, they sing and do a dance and then they dive. It’s just a show for the tourists but I’m glad we got to see it anyway.
Tonight we plan on fulfilling our second wish for the day- eating some Jeju pork! David has already told us where to go so we’ll report on that tomorrow.