August 09, 2010

the best ... (Jeju pt. IV)

(This is the fourth part in the multi part saga that was Jeju Island.)

On the third day we gingerly hopped onto a F1bus taking us to sunrise peak (or sunset peak depending on the time. Haha, no really it’s called sunrise peak). This peak looked like a volcano crater; it was off the north east coast of Jeju. Since we missed sunrise by about 6 hours we decided to head to an island off the coast of sunrise peak.

This island is called Udo, it is somewhat famous because of women divers who grace the coastline. These aren’t Korean bikini clad stripper divers; these are women who dive for seafood. They became famous in the early 1900’s because they weren’t taxed on the seafood they brought up, while their male counterparts were. Originally there were tens of thousands of them, now there is about 4,500. Udo is their hotspot, now well into their 60’s and 70s these women can dive to about 45 feet, and stay under for about 2 minutes. They are pretty remarkable apparently, I wouldn’t know because we didn’t see any while I was there. How anticlimactic was that! I psyched you up with facts, and then… nothing… I wish I could say more, but I can’t, so let’s move on.

Shortly after we arrived on the Udo, well about 100 feet onto the island we found a stall renting scooters. The girls had talked about renting a scooter on Jeju, and since they had no desires to race professionally, competing against the F1buses put that idea on the shelf. The aforementioned shelved idea was recalled when we saw this stall. This island seemed perfect for scooters; there was very little car traffic, and there was a road that winded its way around the coastline. I have to admit my heart dropped, I was instantly jealous. I knew that if I rented a scooter I would somehow forget about my knee, realize too late that its way too weak, and bam whack whatever, I’d be on my ass with another blown knee.

Imagine my joy though when I saw the ATV’s sitting next to the scooters. There was NO way that I could plant my leg if I needed to bail. Well I mean there was a way, but if I had to bail off an ATV I would be doing something seriously stupid. The ATV was double the price of the scooters (\40,000 compared to \20,000 for two hours), but ATV’s required no balance to ride. I didn’t care about the increased price and I threw down my money with a smile on my face. The island itself was gorgeous, and was easily the highlight of the trip. The two hour rental was more than enough time to scoot around the island

At this point of the trip I was quite proud of myself, I’d been able to partake in every activity. The journey up to sunrise peak was too much for me though. I stood at the base of the peak knowing it would be pushing me WAY too hard. I had to let the girls go up alone. I was very jealous of the girls I wanted to go to the top of the peak badly. Instead I hid on the beach below the peak.

I was walking along a decrepit part of the beach (it was right below the peak, no tourist pictures could really see this, my camera is also broken so i couldn't take any pictures of it, haha), it looked grimy and had garbage randomly littered around, kind of like a back alley. Down this back alley beach I found some tunnels. In front of one of these tunnels there stood a nice shiny plaque, it seemed very out of place. I was wondering if this was the spot of some famous murder or something. I mean isn’t that what happens in back alleys?

I was partially right, according to the plaque these tunnels were built by the Japanese during WWII. The Japanese would store suicide boats in them, and during high tide would have the ability to launch them should the allies every corner them on this island (they were almost the site of a murder, or act of war, whatever you want to call it). The Japanese also built a labyrinth of caves underneath sunrise peak. I assume this is where the Japanese played cool war games like… um… lasertag! I wanted to explore the tunnels, but one was being occupied by a squatter, dead serious! A hobo lived on back alley beach, underneath sunrise peak. He had a bed made up of cardboard, a random assortment of recyclables, some empty food wrappers, and a little fire pit. I’m curious if snorkeling here would be similar to dumpster diving?

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