Olle 14-1: through the gotjawal

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These photos don’t give an accurate impression of Olle 14-1. Long sections of this trail pass through the gotjawal, Jeju’s forested landscape. Due to the well drained, volcanic soils the vegetation is somewhat scrubby, not able to reach any great height. Still, it’s good to know that extensive areas remain in the face of Jeju’s ongoing development. The trail is narrow and winding and rocky in places and the dappled sunlight make it necessary to watch carefully where you put your feet.

It’s also the trail that passes closest to Global Education City, the closest point being the O’Sulloc tea plantation at around halfway. This attracts huge numbers of visitors, who probably have no idea why less-than-immaculate hikers are passing through their midst.

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Olle 21

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We’ve just completed Olle 21, as far from Global Education City as you can get on Jeju, right in the north east corner of the island. It’s a relatively short trail, joining the end of Olle 20 to a point part way through Olle 1. Given that we started on Olle 5 a year ago, we’ve just got four to go to complete the circuit.

The village in the first two photos is the small port of Hado, a couple of kilometers after the start of the trail. It’s surrounded by a substantial and partly rebuilt wall, defence against the Japanese during the Joeson Dynasty. I assume the rebuilding is cosmetic rather than anything else.

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And there are plenty of reminders that the Haenyo, women divers, are a feature of this part of the island. The trail starts at the Haenyo museum and there are several statues on the rocks along the shoreline. We even saw some real ones working in the water in the bay as we ate lunch – noodles with seafood.

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This part of Jeju also seems to be carrot country. The soil appears to be sufficiently light and clear of rock for carrot to be a common crop, along with radish and potatoes. The ladies below are packing the harvested carrots into boxes; there also seems to be a real waste, with lots of misshapen and split ones being left behind in the field.

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Museulpo in winter

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I write a separate blog about Museulpo (http://moseulpo2014.wordpress.com/) so tend not to write about it on this blog. This little port on the south-west coast of Jeju is the closest town to Global Education City and is a town in transition. There’s a lot of building going on and the influx of thousands of people nearby must be a factor.

Although the ongoing construction will change the character of the place, it’s still a working town and port with plenty of narrow streets and modest homes, derelict buildings and plots of land. You can buy a cheap and nutritious meal at a Korean restaurant or spend the same money on a hot drink at one of the cafes that cater for more western tastes.

I hope you noticed the green net in the photo below, suspended on a wire and containing drying fish. Those fish are going to be exposed to the northerly winds that have seen temperatures drop this week, the squally showers of rain, sleet and snow. Winter has arrived but at least the sun didn’t set until 5:24 this evening, compared with 3:50 in the UK.

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Jeju Onggi Kiln Festival

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I run past an old traditional kiln regularly, some 20 metres long and sloping from one end to the other. There was one working at today’s Onggi festival in Mureung-ri, just a short drive from Global Education City. The festival promotes and celebrates the traditional Jeju way of making pottery and the word ‘onggi’ refers to the cooperative character of the process.

Inside a covered working area, the experts were showing visitors how to work the clay and how to create the pots and dishes, building up a collection ready to be fired. Outside, a three-year old kiln constructed from volcanic stone and earth was being prepared. This doesn’t look high tech but it’s a tradition that really does look worth preserving, part of Jeju’s heritage.

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And an example of the finished product – plain, simple and beautiful to look at.

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Olle 14

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I don’t suppose there were many other people walking Olle 14 today; they’d have got wet if they had been, sooner or later. Even so, it was still good to be out on the trail.

Olle 14 starts in Jeoji, very close to Global Education City, and makes its way north-west until it reaches the coast. It then turns northwards past Hyeopjae Beach and ends at Hallim. This is the part of Jeju where the prickly pear grows, both wild and farmed. I wrote a blog about it before, but now they’re covered in yellow flowers – and, today, in raindrops.

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Yongmeori

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We weren’t the only people walking round the Yongmeori peninsular today. It’s set below Sanbangsan and just a few miles from Global Education City and the walk is closed if the tide is high or the waves too big. There was no danger of getting swept away today; indeed, there were many opportunities to sit down with a plate of sea food, as fresh as it comes, taken from a bowl of water and sliced as you wait, and eat it with a bottle of Soju (the local alcoholic drink). Even washed down with something strong, I wouldn’t be tempted by any of the unpleasant-looking options that were being cut up.

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It’s easy to get blasé about the geology on Jeju, but Yongmeori is quite something. It’s originally a hydro-volcanic structure, subsequently subject to a process of erosion and deposition, the result being a low-level ledge around the peninsular backed by sculpted cliffs.

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Global Education City

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We’re living in Jeju’s Global Education City, an ambitious project to create an education hub on the island. Three international schools are already in place, but there are plans for universities, an arts and cultural centre, an English language teaching centre, a commercial area, etc.

It’s all being created on a brand new site. From where I took these photos, there are school buildings in one direction, waiting for term to start. In the other direction is a site cleared of trees, ready for future developments. There are roads and paths going nowhere, streetlights and bus stops with no current purpose. There’s building going on in several locations and it’ll all look very different in a few years’ time.

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