Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jeju Island Road Trip Day 1: Gimnyeong Maze Park

We were scheduled for an early drive to see the sun rise at Seongsan Ilchulbong. Unfortunately, it was raining outside which just wasn't the right weather for a good drive and perfect sunrise view. Extended bed time though was very much a welcome idea.

Our road trip began in the late morning, first to see Gimnyeong Maze Park. We stopped somewhere along highway 1132 to grab a quick bite. 7 eleven has always been one of our choices. Special request by Ira - hotdogs! He couldn't get enough of them. One of the advantages of driving when we're on a holiday was that we could stop whenever we want to (as long as it's legally permitted). Whether the kids were hungry or we spotted something interesting along the way.
 this 7 eleven outlet is strategically located along the highway, a perfect pit stop for those on a road trip like us 
When the kids were satisfied with what they had and we've bought extra food to munch in the car, we continued our short drive along hway 1132 to Gimnyeong Maze Park. There were signs along the way so it wasn't that difficult to get to and we had the help of the car's GPS. 

A short walk from the carpark was a mini ticket booth, which also marks the entrance of the maze park. Pay as you enter. Admission fee was 3,300 won ($3.90) for adults and 1,100 won ($1.30) for children.  

Ira led the way walking ahead of us the whole time from the ticket booth to the maze entrance itself. Armed with his walking stick cum pretend rifle (a camera tripod), he charged into the park walking past wooden pathways amid a forested area. There were several picnic tables perfect for family packed lunch or an afternoon snack. There were also stray cats that welcomed visitors into the park. An added feature was a man-made mini waterfalls and a pond that led to a garden. A relaxing walk to clear our mind as we face the maze ahead of us.
There were not many people yet when we arrived so the place wasn't packed. We were able to stay a little bit longer at the starting point to take photos before venturing into the maze. Ira couldn't wait to get in and had a battle plan in mind. He said we just had to follow him and he would lead us to the end of the maze. We're ready to take the challenge, determined to make it to the end and ring that bell of success. 

Immediately after entering, we saw the "failure" signs indicative of the numerous failed attempts by other maze solvers. We knew then that it wasn't as easy as we initially thought it was going to be. We walked through the passageways made of tall shrubs following where Ira would lead us. I was walking behind consulting the map given at the ticket counter. It should only take about 5 minutes to get through the maze with the map but it was really difficult to find your way when you're inside.
A good indication that we were on the right track was getting to the bridge (also the viewing deck). Ira was so excited to have led us there thinking it was already the end of the maze, only to be letdown when he saw that we were still somewhere in the middle. We looked around and tried to plan our route while checking the map. We went on an almost similar maze in Western Australia at Abingdon Miniature Village when the kids were just toddlers (Kelvin was 5 and Ira was 15 months old) but that one had a viewing deck high enough to be able to help lead others throughout the maze. At Gimnyeong Maze Park, however, the bridge wasn't high enough for us to clearly see the path and help each other out.  

From the bridge we headed back down to the maze and weaved through the passageways again. We have encountered several dead ends and detours. Ira was getting cranky because of the heat, and because he couldn't find the was as fast as he wanted to. But few more minutes of getting lost and we finally found our way to the end of the maze where the bell of success awaited. Of course, I had to ring it for myself. Ira, on the other hand, retreated to the shade and couldn't get his hands on cold soda. 

The staircase from the deck after the bell tower actually led back to the entrance of the maze. We saw some visitors who actually didn't finish the maze but decided to just go up to the bell tower through the "back door". 

We didn't keep track of how long we were in the maze but we definitely needed to sit down and rest. This swing set was the perfect place. While hubby and I lulled ourselves in the swing, the boys got curious with the sets of traditional Korean games that were set up just in front of the swing set. One of them was the same game we saw at Namsangol Hanok Village so they already knew how to play it. The other one had hoops. At first, we just enjoyed watching them play but later on we couldn't resist joining them in their game.


We spent a few good minutes of playing before we decided to walk to the nearby garden. It looked inviting when we passed by it on our way to the maze. There were a variety of shrubs and flowering plants. There were also some which were sculptured into different shapes. We had fun posing beside or behind these floral masterpieces.

What really caught our attention were the colorful flowers in the garden. We couldn't resist capturing their beauty and even made a competition out of it - who could capture the best photo using our own smart phones. Kelvin snapped really good photos and we compared shots. He even learned how to incorporate proper composition in his photos. Photography 101 with his dad. I'm not so sure whether it was our smart phones or the beautiful blooms but we all did take wonderful photos of almost all the flowers we've seen in the garden. We've even captured two types of bees as they flew into some of the brightly colored flowers.

Gimnyeong Maze Park can entertain visitors for minutes or even hours (depending on how long you get through the maze and what other activities you plan to do there). For those who have more than enough time, a picnic by the park would be a great idea. You can also take a leisurely walk around the garden or sit for a while and soak in the sun or the cool breeze. 

We really had a wonderful time at this maze park. We've proven that we did have the skills to make it through this maze. We tried our hands on some traditional Korean games for the second time. And we were delighted by nature's gift of beautiful flowers. What more could we have asked for?

Here are more photos from our visit to the Gimnyeong Maze Park:






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