WTF: Ulsan Amethyst Cave World

The Amethyst Cave wasn’t my original destination when I set off for Eonyang, the western outskirts of Ulsan, at 8:30am one Saturday morning. My friend Paul and I were in search of Paraeso Waterfall, but after a 2+ hour trek out to Eonyang, we missed the only bus. We tried a taxi, but the driver claimed it would take 50,000 won or something ridiculous to get us all the way there. Not wanting to waste our time in Eonyang, we asked him to take us to another one of the city’s 12 “scenic locations”, Jakgaecheon, a stream. The driver said that would only be 7,000 won so away we went. But once we made it to the stream, the taxi driver mumbled something about wanting to take us to a “cave” and took us there instead.

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I was quite surprised to find we were in the middle of a tiny amusement park, overrun with groups of small children. I had heard of the Amethyst Cave before, but nothing had quite prepared me for their quirkiness. The Cave seemed a good alternative to our failed attempt to get to the waterfall, so we got our tickets and made our way inside.

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The cave is divided into several sections, featuring exhibitions that seemed to have been selected using the random button on Wikipedia, or some other such nonsense method.

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Egyptian hall

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Forever preserved in Child’s Pose.

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A Buddha statue and mats for praying.

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The exotic Papa New Guinea tribal section.

And of course, there was a hall claiming Dokdo:

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There was also a little bit of Amethyst…

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…but it was mostly in fogged-up glass boxes, and sometimes rather difficult to see. There were also little holes in the cave walls, where you could see “real” un-mined amethyst, but it wasn’t all that much to see.

By far the best part of the caves was an acrobatic/contortionist performance, performed by a group of kids from a SE Asian country that may have been the Philippines. They were amazing.

As is commonly found in Korea, these anatomically-detailed statues marked the entrance:
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Amethyst Cave World also has a giant indoor ice sculpture section:

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But we decided to skip it. I hear it has a nice toboggan run.

Down below the caves was a kids-size mini go-karting area, with some very loud cars that sounded in desperate need of mechanical repair. This was positioned right next to a nice little temple, with a big pond full of lily pads.

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Up above the cave was a tiny zoo, with an excellent “Chickens of World” exhibition:

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This French chicken was my favorite. His style seems a bit reminiscent of Bowie.

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These floppy-mopped Polish chickens were a close second.

The rest of the zoo had some really awful cages for its animals, without any attempt to recreate a habitat. I would really like to find a way to write City Hall or someone to complain…these conditions were just awful.

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Bear cage.

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Monkey cage.

The Amethyst cave world is definitely a quirky place, and certainly worth the visit for anyone with a prolonged visit to Ulsan. I think the easiest way out there is a taxi from Eonyang, as I didn’t really see any buses.

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—————–

We had finished our tour of the cave by mid-afternoon, and decided to see if we couldn’t walk to the waterfall. We easily found our way back down to Jakgaecheon, and walked along the stream for a couple hours until we were blocked by Sinbulsan, one of Eonyang’s biggest mountains.

Signs near the entrance to the mountain told us that another, smaller waterfall was an easy 15-20 minute hike up.

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There were some rock climbers descending and taking video. They looked pretty badass.

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And so we found a waterfall after all! It made a very decent substitute for Paraeso.

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The day ended with some delicious mountain vegetable bibimbap down at a tiny restaurant at the base of Sinbulsan, as every hike should.

While it would’ve been nice to have found Paraeso, stumbling onto the Amethyst Cave definitely made for an interesting day of exploring.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. waterfallsandcaribous
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 01:15:44

    Did you ever manage to find Paraeso in your time in Ulsan??! We want to try and find it but the Ulsan websites SUCK at giving you information about how to get to places. You mention that you’d missed the ‘only bus of the day’ – do you remember what bus this is or what time it goes?

    Reply

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