Friday, August 13, 2010

Jeju Island - Northern Side, S. Korea

Jeju Island...  If you can imagine an oval shaped island that's almost perfectly positioned around a mountain, slopes that gradually descend to the surrounding ocean & an abundance of volcanic rock gently nestled in with tropical beaches... This is the island I was lucky enough to live on.  This post will pretty much cover the whole northern side of the island, with pictures I've not shown before

JEJU ISLAND- This post will cover the northern half of the island.
Please click on the link for more information about Jeju. 

This is an aerial photo that I borrowed from You'll have to click on it to see its detail.

Abu Oreum with with its interesting circle of trees at the bottom of this parasitic cone.  This Oreum, or parasitic cone, is one of 368 oreums on Jeju island.  Oreums are also known as secondary volcanoes.  The main oreum, or volcano, Mt. Halla, towers over the whole island at 1,950 m (6,398 ft).  Sometimes after the monsoon season, a small lake is formed in the center of this circle.  Abu Oreum was also in the movies The Rebellion of Lee Jae-su & Zephyr Sonata.

This exploring day to Abu Oreum was visited after a morning sailing lesson.  Three of us came to this oreum, yet only two of us ventured into the circle of trees.  Upon descending into this secondary volcano, we felt like there was something magical about this crater, but also as if we weren't suppose to enter this fairy tale circle of trees.  As we approached the eye of the circle, even the tall grass waved magically in the wind.  As if each blade of grass was waving us to stay away...  It was a strange experience that I cannot describe.  Even though one friend walked the crater rim to watch for our safety, we still didn't feel the need to stay long.

Sangumburi Crater is the only extinct volcano of its kind in S. Korea.  It exploded quickly, but not much lava actually appeared.  At 100 feet deep & about 350 feet across, roughly 400 species of plants & animals live inside this crater.  You can walk around most of the rim of this National Monument #263, but not into it. 

The grounds around Sangumburi Crater.

Life growing between the volcanic rock walls.

A viewpoint built from the volcanic rock at Sangumburi Crater.

A shop built below the rocks, just prior to a trail head. 

I'm not exactly sure what these are or represent, but they were alongside the Mysterious Road. 

What's the Mysterious Road you ask?  There happen to be two on either side of Mt. Halla.  If you park your car in neutral at the blue sign below, your car will roll up the hill.  Or so it may seem...

Eorimok Trail on Mt. Halla. 

Eorimok Trail with the top of Hallasan (Mt. Halla) in the background.  

Taken from the west side of the island.

A winter hike up the northern route, Gwaneumsa Trail.  This trail is one of two that climbs to the top of Mt. Halla.

Near the beginning of the trail.  Look at that stair stretch after this bridge!

I tried showing my crampons, but they're only visible if you expand this photo twice.

If you expand this as well, you'll see the detail on these frozen leaves. 

A view to the north, as the ocean blended with the clouds. 

The trail is clearly marked all the way to the top of Mt. Halla.

Two hikers stop to warm up their lunch.  

It was a different type of beauty during the winter.  The ocean behind the trees. 

One of the few large flat areas where people could catch their breathe. 

This is it, the top of Mt. Halla!  This is the only area to view the crater from.   At 1,950 m (6,398 ft), it is the highest mountain in S. Korea!  And it's on an island at that!

Koreans enjoy their soju, & this group celebrated their climb by polishing off those green soju bottles.

Then, they turned & sang some traditional songs for anyone passing by.  They were having a great time!

After reaching the peak, you could head back down the Gwaneumsa Trail, or change paths to the east side, Seongpanak Trail.

Normally Seongpanak Trail has many stairs to descend/climb, but not today!  I saw many people sliding down on plastic bags, so I gave it a whirl! 

Manjanggul Cave is one of the longest lava tubes in the world!  It's just over 13 km long, but visitors can only walk 1 km of it. 

This is called the "Wing Shaped Wall."  This place, or any lava tube on Jeju Island, is a great place to hide from the summer heat!

The "Lava Pillar" was created from spewing lava. 

A short walk from the caves, a beautiful hedge maze!

The Gimnyeong Maze Park is great fun for all ages!  

Perhaps more intriguing for me, the maze park was opened, created, & still operated today by an American, Fred Dustin.  He is one of the most generous individuals I've ever met.  If you'd rather read the Wikipedia write up about him, please click here


Some friends, making our way to our sailing lessons.  My slick scooter here in the lead.  This was the only vehicular transportation I owned, & yes, it was the fastest of all three as well!  It would reach speeds of about 115 km/h (71 mph).  Maybe not too fast for some, but keep in mind this is a scooter.

The water was beautiful at Gimnyeong Beach!  This is the area we would sail, or next to it.  

A different area of Gimnyeong & the beautiful ocean water.  This area is on the northeastern side of the island.  It made for about an hour scooter ride from the south side of the island.  

The beginner sailing boats, Blue Max.  Unfortunately, all these pictures were taken in colder weather days.  During the summer, all of us were in swimsuits.  

In these Blue Max boats we learned basic sailing techniques. 

I think I look a little overgrown for this boat. 

The coach called us in once sailing class was over for the day. 

These boats were for the younger kids, the sailing team kids.  I should mention that the man who made all of this possible, was Fred Dustin, the maze park creator.  He donated the money, bought all the boats, including three large sailboats, & even paid for a sailing coach!  All from the proceeds from the maze park. Yet, he doesn't stop here.  He donates thousands of dollars to many different organizations!!!  Truly an amazing man that I feel honored to have met!  Especially after knowing how much he's had to go through to get here!  Yet, the Korean government won't leave him alone.  The local government of this area wanted to claim rights to the possibility that this International Sailing Club may produce a profit in the future.  It's too bad they became greedy, because Mr. Dustin built this project out of the belief in giving to the public. He operated the sailing club at a loss, all because he enjoys giving.  To give you an idea, a set of four sailing lessons, each about 3 hours, only cost $50!  Yes, that's right, $50 for three lessons!  Sure the lessons were mainly in Korean, but many sailing terms are English.  Mr. Dustin kept the price low to attract people to a sport he believed in.  He even worked hard to get sailing listed as an acceptable club activity for this town's schools.  Yet after greed prevailed, & after much debate with the local government of Gimnyeong, he let go of the sailing club.  The club sat untouched for about a year.  The last I heard, it's now being operated by a company...

Despite this disappointing story, for the time the sailing club was open, I advanced to the Laser sailing boat!  In this picture, I'm learning how to use the"hiking" feet straps to my advantage.  I'm still timid to trust those straps. 

Ok, now my feet are utilizing the straps better, but my legs are bent.

Ok, now I feel more confident & this looks much better!

Getting ready for a tack.

Oops...   You shouldn't let your boat flip this far over... On a light wind day the sailing coach had me practice roll tacks.  It's basically where you get the boat on it's side in order to help it turn.  This random video shows a smooth roll tack

Here's a standard capsize move, in attempts to upright the boat quickly.  Yet, I'm too far gone in this one.  The picture above shows that result.  

Standing on the daggerboard will slowly lift the sail out of the water. 

Here, some of the westerner sailing students get a chance at a bigger boat!

This 19 foot catamaran was fast!  Kim sat in the trampoline net, where all the action is. 

Sally advised me where to steer. 

Wait, this 45 footer is bigger!  It just came in from Busan, S. Korea.  

Once they arrived, the wine bottles were opened!  They shared their wine as they celebrated a successful sailing trip.

After sailing, one time we had a large group lunch here.  The ladies were having fun watching the dog play in the water. 

If you head west, along the north shore, the next beach is called Hamdeok Beach.

It has several smaller beach areas when the tide is low.

Here is the part of Hamdeok Beach

On the other side of the natural basalt jetty, this beach strip exposes itself during low tide. 

I spotted some construction workers manly enough to drive a pink truck. 

This was a small town harbor. 

I'm not sure what this bridge's purpose was, but I enjoyed it. 

Some scarecrows in the middle of the field. 

Samyang Beach which is known for the iron deposits in the sand. 

A sand crab's work of art.  I recommend clicking on this twice to expand the detail.

Samyang Beach, near the man made area. 

Continuing west, we reach Jeju City, a city of about 400,000 residents.  It's the capital & also the largest city on this island of about 565,000 inhabitants. Can you see the kid on the side of the bridge, ready to jump into the water?

It's not uncommon to see people napping in places we wouldn't normally.  

Someone just bought this at the fish market.  They probably took a break to cool off in the public fountain which can barely be seen to the left.  

Yongyeon Lake, or Dragon Lake, is only 200 m from Yongduam, or Dragon Head Rock.

This was one of my Halloween costumes, or props.  I wore normal clothes & put my hands in the cutout openings on the side.  I was a hand model!  Yes, I made this...

Iho Beach, slightly west of Jeju City. 

A calm ocean as night settled. 

At night, this place became an outdoor dinning/drinking party. 

On a camping trip, my friend's bike fell from the wind.  If you recall, the wind is one of the three things Jeju Island claims to have. 

Some green seaweed on the sand ripples of my second favorite beach, Hyeopjae Beach

The seaweed was plentiful here. 

Over the years, I saw the algae creep up the rocks. 

Some snails caught napping during low tide. 

Adrienne visited from Busan & we did a scooter tour of the island.  The last camp spot was Hyeopjae Beach.  After Korea, Adrienne moved to Japan.  At time of this post, she's living in Okinawa, Japan! 

This area of the beach was away from the hype of the tourists. 

During low tide, it went out pretty far. 

High tide slowly crept in, every time.  

On another camping trip, my friend Brian showed us how to snorkel in tropical waters. 

Low tide, my tent looked so lonely.  

On a different camping trip, I stepped out into the ocean in attempts of capturing the fire on film. 

Hyeopjae Beach with Biyangdo Island in view. 

Chagwido Islands

This tangerine dolharubang was made for many of the festivals.  This festival, being the largest on the island, was quite the sight to see.  We called it the Jeju Fire Festival, but it appears to be called the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival. 

By the way, the Jeju Fire Festival link isn't recognized by my browser as a safe site.  It's listed as an unknown safety risk.  It worked just fine for me though!  

This yearly event is held every year around the 15th day after the Lunar New Year.  It's held at Saebyeol Oreum, & the top of the extinct parasitic volcano has a crater shaped like a horse shoe.  

In a small area to the side of the festival, some local residents partake in some fun country-style races.

The kids are reduced to the bunny races.  As you can see, the rabbits aren't as motivated to win, hence the lifting to assist. 

A strong windy day!  Of course...

Wind or no wind, you can still slide!  Brian Miller, the local American professional photographer hikes up the hill, camera in hand.  He just published his first book, A Village Across the Sea.


Some tangerine dolharubongs watched over the "wish ball" before it obliterated into flames at night.  You can write on small pieces of paper, make your wish, & tuck it into this huge straw ball. 

Usually it's more crowded, but the wind kept many at home. 

The Korean style clowns couldn't be stopped from some wind. 

Traditional Korean bands always make an appearance to the festivals. 

An enormous bowl of some type of soup.  A welcome on this cold February day. 

Well, they ended up canceling the first festival on this particular year, due to the wind.  However, it was rescheduled for two weeks later.  I had to attend my last fire festival, so I showed up two weeks later & was able to witness the hand off to the government figures. 

Now the politicians have the power!

But they were nice & shared with us.  Mark is in the back, & after Korea he ending up moving to Japan.  As of now, he's currently in Tokyo.  Mark, Jen & I all helped hold the torch. 

As if in a trance, everyone carried their torch to the base of the hill.  

Once the fireworks start, everyone is ready & in position.  You can see all the people with their torches lined up below. 

This year...  I'm in the front row with a torch!  I'm ready to light this oreum on fire!

The countdown started & all lit the ground in front of them.  It got warm really quick & the heat waves could be felt back near the food tents.  

Koreans don't usually have beards...  I couldn't figure out what he was doing.