This is the second in a three-part series as James Hill visits kayaking spots around the island. In this installment he visits Soesoggak Estuary, Seogwipo City. For part one, click here - Ed.
In this, the second part of my intrepid adventure to kayak in various places around Jeju, my quest takes me to the Soesoggak Estuary.
The area is a picturesque place, right at the start of Olle 6, a short distance east of Seogwipo. To get there, take any of the coastal buses (or any of the 100 numbered city buses) to Du-le Villa. From there, it’s about a 10 minute walk south along the riverside. A cab there will run you about 6,000 won.
This kayaking route forsakes the traditional ocean in favour of the river that snakes its way into the sea. The steep rock sides topped with vegetation that make up the river valley put me in mind of the Lord of the Rings. You know, the bit in the first one before Boromir goes all strange and orcs start trying to kill everyone near the end. It has that kind of vibe. The look of it was similar, I mean; I wasn’t being chased by murderous orcs, I don’t think.
▲ Photo by James Hill
Moving swiftly on. The kayaking place consists of two tents, one of which handles people wanting a ride on the big floaty raft, and one that handles the kayakers. Yes, for the faint of heart, you can indeed sit on a great big wooden raft, complete with seats, and be pulled along the river by boat. That is an option. I went for the other tent.
“Freelance journalist. Jeju Weekly,” I announced, smoothly, while flashing my “Access-All-Areas” card. There was an awkward moment while we stared at each other, before I realized I was in fact showing them a several months old, used English train ticket, and that no-one spoke English.
I tried again. Eventually, after much pantomiming, we established that I was supposed to be there. I had to wait a few minutes - even though it was 5 o’clock on a Monday afternoon, the place was that busy. So, fair warning: the weekend crowds there can be intense, as anyone who’s walked the Olle route can attest.
Then I was sent to the kayaks, floating on a small pier in the river, and was given a quick set of instructions by a guy whose English was quite reasonable.
Without further ado, the verdict.
The good: the place is extremely pretty, with stark rock formations and gentle vegetation standing in contrast to each other as the river winds along. The river is sheltered from the wind and shady, so as long as it’s not pouring with rain, it will be a pleasant experience. It’s also incredibly beginner friendly.
The kayaks have a pair of stabilizers to prevent the kayak tipping. I’m fairly sure you could get up and dance in one and it wouldn’t capsize. Unless you’re there just after a typhoon, the river is as placid as a lake. There is literally nothing that could go wrong.
The bad: If you’re looking for anything a bit adrenaline inspiring, this is not the place for you. Short of suffering from severe aquaphobia, it would be almost impossible to quicken your pulse doing this. The course is very short, only a couple of hundred meters, and at a very gentle pace can be finished in about 20 minutes. You also share it with a hundred other boats and a giant wooden raft.
The uncapsizable nature of the kayaks also has the disadvantage of making them very hard to maneuver. Trying to navigate around a rock put me in mind of an ancient minibus I once had to drive that lacked anything like power steering. Trying to pick up speed felt a bit similar. It requires the same delay on any action you do.
Overall then, as long as you’re aware of what it is - a family friendly, short trip up a small section of river and back - it’s good fun. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, however, I’d give this one a miss.
Equipment – 2.5/5. The clear Perspex kayaks are scratched to the point of being counterproductive, and steer like an ox team on valium. But, they categorically don’t leak, and are very, very unlikely to tip you. Life jackets provided, of course.
Location – 3.5/5. Extremely close to Seogwipo, but not quite close enough to be exceptionally convenient without your own transport. Public transport gets you close, but not right next to it.
Facilities – 4/5. While the outfit consists of a few tents, in the immediate area you can find everything else you might need – shops, public toilets, restaurants, cafes. Valuables can be left at the counter for safekeeping.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published without the prior consent of Jeju Weekly.
Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: +82-64-724-7776 Fax: +82-64-724-7796
#503, 36-1, Seogwang-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, Korea, 63148
Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Hee Tak Ko | Youth policy: Hee Tak Ko
Copyright ⓒ 2009 All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published
without the prior consent of jeju weekly.com.