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Jeju: Some Enchanting Island
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Jeju: Some Enchanting Island
  Jeju Island Travel Tale

Lorry Patton
Jeju is an island of lava tubes, white sandy beaches, waterfalls, grottos and gaping volcanoes. It also is an island of cleverly marketed " Ten-ings " - mountain climbing, hunting, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, boating, golfing, gambling, sightseeing and honeymooning. In other words, Jeju Island is Korea's very own paradise island; and, if the tourist commission and private enterprise have their way, it will soon be one of the world's most attractive getaways.
Every attraction from the deepest cave to a volcanic peak has been made accessible to the visitor -- and done in such a way that nature is not offended:
A railed path of stone leads to a narrow passageway between huge boulders that block the entrance to a fishing hole used by the famous women divers, who, by the way, still gather sea life the traditional way -- holding their breath for remarkable lengths.
And although a strenuous climb, the path that leads to Sunrise Peak and exhilarating views of the sunrise, is made easier by placing additional rocks where necessary.
Another undertaking is the path that leads to an astounding waterfall. A wide brick lane runs along side the river through lush forests for several hundred meters before ending at the crashing falls.
Then there's the stairs that lead to a cave the size of an underground subway. The steps and the full length of the giant tube are lit with eerie lamps.
Besides maintaining the above natural wonders, new attractions have been developed.
The Shinchonji Sculpture Park has a most fascinating collection of sculptures arranged effectively over a hilly terrain. And even those that aren't guests visit the grounds of the brand- new Hotel Paradise, Korea's first Mediterranean Style Hotel. The hotel sits high upon Jeju's cliffs and blends perfectly with the surrounding tropical gardens and waterfall. ( It's the first hotel I've seen that has a deluxe suite in a cave. )
However, the most impressive endeavor by far has to be the Chungmun Resort Complex.
Chungmun Resort Complex, situated on Jeju Island's south central coast, is a joint effort between the Korean National Tourism Organization and private enterprise. The scenic 1.7 million square meters area includes Ch'onje Falls, green valleys, a rugged coastline and spacious beaches -- and that's just nature's contribution.
History has contributed something special, too: A romantic legend, magic ponds and a bridge of unique design.
Ch'onje Bridge, made of steel reinforced concrete and carved stones, spans one of two ponds created by the Ch'onje Falls -- Ch'onje means Emperor of Heaven and Pond. Carved scenes on the bridge's piers depict the story of the seven nymphs, who, belonging to the Emperor of Heaven, used to descend from the heavens to bathe in this small beautiful pond.
Next to the main pond is a smaller pond filled with cold clear water gushing from a crack in the cliff. Legend says that the water from this pond contains magic powers. Local people say that in the past, anyone drinking this water during the months of July and August, was mysteriously cured of any illness.
Three characters " O bok ch'no " meaning five fortunes, are engraved on a marble slab in front of a traditional Korean octagonal pavilion at the west entrance to the bridge. Water falling from the fountain atop the marble slab creates another magic pond.
By tossing a few coins into the pond the investor may obtain the following five fortunes: Longevity, Wealth, Love, Health and Peace.
And what nature missed and history forgot, marketing developed.
The Cheju Shilla, Korea's first complete resort style property, sprawls across 21- landscaped acres of land that overlook the vast Pacific Ocean. With three fine restaurants, a recreation and game room, lounges, fitness clubs, banquet halls, a library, bowling alley, tennis courts, racquetball courts, indoor-outdoor pools, a casino and presidential suites, they haven't missed much.
The decor is elegantly simple, befitting an emperor. Live trees grace marble lobbies, sphinx sculptures guard wide stairways and bronze statues decorate foyers. The grounds have interesting plant life, miniature bridges, and paths that lead to awesome views of the ocean. Couple these amenities with exceptional service and the result is one superb resort.
The complex also includes a 4 1/2 mile long, 18 hole, 72 par golf course, indoor/outdoor botanical gardens with plants from around the world, an observation tower with views of the magnificent rugged coast, an aquarium and a shopping arcade.
Korea has only recently been thought of as a worthwhile vacation destination by the rest of the world. If Jeju Island is a sample of what lies ahead for the tourist, the country has a bright future, indeed.

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