Sunday, May 26, 2013

Arctic from the Air!

Ok, I had Sahara from the Air and Amazon from the Air.
Now, here is, Arctic from the Air!

I flew from Oslo to Narvik, and again, the views from the air is just amazing! And not only that, I managed to see a 'Glory' too! In Chinese, it's also known as 'Buddha's Light'!

Of course, there's also the usual birds' eye views...

I also had the opportunity to fly into Longyearbyen Svalbard, and the white landscape of Svalbard is breathtaking!

But the most amazing thing of all is this : seeing the Northern Lights up in the air!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Manjanggul Cave, South Korea

Jeju Island is one of South Korea's main tourist hotspots, and the volcanic island is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Classified under the Natural section, its Lava Tubes are highly regarded and valued around the world.

Walking in the lava tube in Manjanggul
The Geomunoreum Lava Tube System is a series of lava tube caves formed when the Geomunoreum volcano erupted 100 to 300 thousand years ago. The biggest of these lava tube caves is Manjanggul Cave, and the tunnels through the cave runs for 7416 metres! However, only one section of about 1km is open to the public.

Formed by volcanic lava flows, the tunnels and caves are literally "carved" out by lava flows. You can actually see the flow lines on the tunnel walls! So it was quite surreal to think that molten rock created this huge passageway that you are now walking on. There are also many formations within the cave as a result of hardened lava, and many of these provide excellent geological value for scientific studies. There are even lava stalactites formed! Many parts have signs with explanations of the various features, so it's very educational. There are also many species of cave creatures that inhabit the cave, which again provide rich academic value. Luckily, the tourist section of the cave were spared visitations by these creatures :)

Manjanggul Cave is accessible by public bus from Jeju city as well as Seogwipo. However, from the bus-stop on the main road, it's another 30+minutes of walking to the entrance of the cave. Luckily, it's a nice scenic walk. Of course, with a hired car, things get more convenient (and most would agree that Jeju is best visited with a car). Visitors should bring some warm clothings as the temperature inside the cave range between 11-18 deg Celsius. A torchlight may be useful too although the cave and tunnels have some lights, they are unfortunately gawdily coloured (I feel).

Highly recommended visit!

The 30+ minute walk to the entrance is a scenic walk :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Journey through the Lofoten

The Lofoten Islands is a group of islands in northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle. I made a trip there in Mar, and had a really enjoyable time. Check out my journey in my travelogue article!

Journey through the Lofoten

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seoraksan National Park, South Korea

Seoraksan National Park is one of South Korea's most well-known and popular tourist attractions for nature enthusiasts. Hugely popular in autumn because of its fall foliage within the park, it is however beautiful in all seasons.

Going up to Ulsanbawi
 Mountains, forests, stone formations, streams and waterfalls - they are all featured inside the park. As with alot of scenic mountain parks in Japan and Korea, there is also a cablecar ropeway to one of the peaks. But the best way to enjoy the park is of course, the numerous hiking trails there! From easy 2-3 hour trails to multi-day trips, there should be one suitable for you.  I went on the Ulsanbawi Rock trail which took 4+hours return, and enjoyed it, although I would have prefered better weather when I was there :p. Nevertheless, the misty sceneries I had when I was there does add to the overall experience.

Misty within the park
Mountain sceneries like a Chinese painting
Pretty mountain streams add to your hiking experience

Mountain scenery on your hike!

It would be highly recommended to stay a few days to fully enjoy the park, instead of taking a touristy day-trip from Seoul or something. Those day-trippers could only afford a photo session with a giant Buddha statue and quick visits to the temples inside the park - hardly worth the while. One could easily get a bus from Seoul to Sokcho, the city with easiest access to Seoraksan National Park. Just outside the bus terminal in Sokcho, there are public buses to the National Park (bus no. 7), as well as Seorak-dong, the village just outside the park. There are accomodation options both in Sokcho, as well as Seorak-dong. But there is a hostel in Seorak-dong!

For photography enthusiasts, who would want convenient access for night photography or early morning photography, there is also a hotel right inside the park. The Seorak Tourist Hotel would also provide a special pass for you to re-enter the park, which is great for multi-day stays. Otherwise, for visitors who visit the park on different days, they would have to purchase separate park entry tickets. There is only one restaurant at the hotel though, so you may want to purchase all your necessary stuff in town before going in.

If you have time for your Korea trip, include Seoraksan into your itinerary!