Oedolgae Rock


I’ve posted a picture of this stack, Oedolgae Rock, before. It’s very close to the start of Olle trail 7, just west of Seogwipo City. The name has a meaning something like ‘lonely rock’ and is so named because of its isolated position. More anthropomorphism; inanimate objects aren’t just named because of an imagined resemblance to an animal (Cow Island, Bat Oreum, etc.), but because they’re attributed human feelings and characteristics.

Something I hadn’t seen before is a monument nearby that recalls an incident in 1968, and I quote:


“Here on the night of August 20th, 1968, Unit 753 of the North Korean Military arrived on Armed Boat 51 to extract a North Korean spy named Yi X who was operating in Jeju-do, South Korea.

“In a fierce 6 hour battle, a joint military unit comprised of Police Officers from the Seogwipo Police Station and a South Korean military unit completely destroyed the armed boat, killed 12 guerillas, arrested 2 armed guerillas and captured 14 machine guns along with some antiaircraft weapons.

“On this day, the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the National Police Agency, this monument was built to honor the bravery, courage and valor displayed by the aforementioned Seogwipo Police Officers and South Korean Soldiers. May this exemplary achievement serve as an inspiration for all.”

Olle 7


True to form, we walked Olle 7 today, the third trail in three weeks – more islands, volcanic cliffs and coastline, and little harbours. The sun shone all day in a mostly cloudless sky over the East China Sea (sorry, UK readers, but it’s usually like that) and, considering this is supposed to be winter, it was a perfectly pleasant temperature.

The volcanic islands off this part of the coast are part of the Jeju biosphere reserve, as designated by UNESCO in 2002. They rise sharply out of the sea and different aspects gradually emerge as you pass along the coast.

I’ve talked about how people create piles of stones, often around Buddhist temples. I took the photo below showing how the hollows in this vertical face of volcanic rock have been filled with pebbles. I have no good explanation.Olle_7_2




The school hiking club visited Kunsan (or Gunsan – the Korean character can be transliterated as either a ‘k’ or a ‘g’) this morning, an oreum south-east of Global Education City. It doesn’t have the classic caldera summit that makes some oreums so impressive but the hike to the top gets the blood flowing and it’s worth it to be able to look out across the landscape of this part of the island.

Having said that, there was cloud today and the top of Mt Halla was hidden. In the other direction Sanbangsan and Songaksan were not far away, and visibility was just about good enough to see the islands of Gapado and Marado.

There’s a freshwater spring on the side of the oreum. The water drips into two stone bowls and a plastic scoop is provided to allow hikers to drink.


An oreum with a view


Not long into Olle 6 the trail takes you up Jejigi Oreum. It’s not so high but from 74 metres up you get a good perspective on the landscape on this part of the island. The picture above looks northward, towards Mt Halla; the one below looks eastward along the coast.

As far as I know, most of these greenhouses (plastic rather than glass) are for mandarins; I’m not sure why, given that they seem to grow perfectly well without the protection that covering them gives. Indeed, even though it’s a small island, different parts of Jeju seem to have noticeably different climates, and this area on the south coast around Seogwipo is reputed to be several degrees warmer than other parts.


Olle 6

Olle_6_1Another Sunday, another Olle trail. Olle 6 starts where Olle 5 finishes, east of Seogwipo City on the south coast and finishes west of the city. It follows the coast, via the top of two oreums (parasitic volcanoes, neither very high). The picture above was taken from the top of one, which is also in the background of the photo below. The conditions were just right – cool, sunny and dry.


There are around 25 Olle trails. They mostly follow the coast, giving a single loop that allows hikers to walk around the whole of the island. There are also some spurs inland, and there are trails on three of the islands off Jeju’s coast. Naturally, Olle 7 is the next target.


Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art


The Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art is just a few miles away from Global Education City, in Jeoji village. There are plenty of sculptures in the grounds but it was too cold to stroll around outside this afternoon. Indeed, the reason we went was because today saw the opening of an exhibition that combined the work of artists from Jeju and Bali. As it said, they’re both islands and both have unique cultures and traditions. We missed the Indonesian dancing but were there for the refreshments. The visitors made short work of them.

Here are details of two pictures by a Balinese artist, who’s name I don’t recall. I know they’re not very cutting edge but I liked them.


Jeju traditional houses


I took these photos yesterday on Olle trail 5. Even with a modern plastic covering over the thatch, I think the traditional Jeju house in the picture above looks good – built of materials that are plentiful locally, and appropriate in the landscape. But these houses are not common; far more common are squat single-storey whitewashed and tin-roofed buildings. Add a solar panel on the roof, a truck parked outside with crates in the back for the mandarins, and the picture is complete. Of course such houses are more practical, so I can’t argue.


The one in the photo at the top looks cared-for but that’s the exception – others are abandoned and left to fall into disrepair. The future doesn’t look good. Such houses are being preserved in the Jeju Cultural Village, but elsewhere they’re going to be lost over time, absorbed back into the land.


Olle 5


This is Namwon, at the start of Olle trail 5. You can even see the top of our red Kia Morning car over the harbour wall. The end was 14.7 km to the west, along Jeju’s south coast.


The trail wasn’t all about the black volcanic rocks of the shore; at times it moved inland, through the little settlements and the mandarin groves, past a Buddhist temple, over dried-up river beds. The river beds look as if they can and do carry significant quantities of water, but I haven’t seen that anywhere on the island yet. The rainy season didn’t happen last year, and most of the water just disappears into ground anyway.

So, the water in the photo below is seawater, rising and falling slowly between the rocks like someone breathing in their sleep.



pyo3I added to my international experience of pick-your-own today, the fruit this time being Jeju’s mandarin oranges. For 5000 Korean Won per person, we could visit a farm with some rather tired displays (a butterfly house with no butterflies, some fish tanks which were mostly empty, a tank with a beetle that would have been interesting if it hadn’t been lying on its back with its legs in the air). There were some better bits, but you get the picture.

The 5000 Won also allowed you to go into the orchard with the mandarins and eat as many as you like. For another 15000 Won, we were able to pick 5 kg to take away. You can buy them more cheaply in the shops, but perhaps it’s part of the Jeju experience to pick them.

The picture above is of an oven in which mandarins were being baked. I would never have thought it but warm mandarins are very tasty.

pyo1Talking of insects, I spotted this one while picking. I’m almost certain that it was just a shell, or simply dead. The fruit behind gives a good idea of how big it was.

And, this being Jeju, there were a couple of graves in amongst the fruit trees and farm buildings. Insects and grave sites – I thought we could take Beatrix when she visits Jeju.


A good soak


I’ve seen photos of the monkeys (Japanese Macaques) in the onsen often enough before, so caught a bus at Nagano station to see them for myself. The bus ride was worth it just to get into the snow-covered hills and to be able to walk in the winter landscape.

You take a snow-covered path along the side of a steep-sided valley for half an hour or so to arrive at the onsen. It doesn’t take any stroke of luck to see the monkeys, or any patience to get photos; other than the fact that there are dozens of other visitors trying to get the best shot, it’s easy. There are scores of monkeys in the immediate area and perhaps a dozen in the water at any one time. They largely ignore the people and the cameras.

Monkeys2The monkeys sit in the water, steam rising into the cold air in clouds. They preen each other with a lazy, blissful look on their faces. The notice in the ticket office said that they don’t get cold when they get out because they don’t sweat, but I don’t feel convinced by that. You can imagine how bedraggled they look when they get out of the water, and how quickly they cool down in the freezing temperatures out of the water.