This is the Catholic church on Marado, South Korea’s most southerly island, quite different from any other building on the island and looking as if it is growing out of the landscape. It’s a surprising structure on an island with such a small number of residents. Indeed, most of the buildings are seafood restaurants catering to the boatloads of visitors who make the boat trip to the island each day.
A short boat trip southwards from Museulpo is the island of Gapado, half way between Jeju and Korea’s southernmost point, the island of Marado.
The island has a short Olle trail, 10-1, which winds its way back and forth across the island, around the coast and through the barley fields. At this time of year, and on a sunny day, it’s really beautiful – and I don’t mean to say that it’s not beautiful at other times. There are stone-walled graves in amongst the barley and patches of yellow (canola) and lilac coloured flowers. I used a slow shutter speed to try and capture the movement of the barley in the wind.
It’s spring. Last weekend it was warm enough to give a reminder of what it’ll be like when the summer comes (and tempt a couple of cicadas to try chirping); it rained hard one day in the week, and for the last two days there’s been a cold northerly wind.
I took my bike out today and headed north-west, arriving at the coast opposite Biyangdo, the island in the photo above. The statue looks like a harubang (glum-looking characters you can see all over the island, and more of which on another occasion) holding a fish. I’ve no idea why.
This island is named because it supposedly looks like a crouching tiger, and a Jeju travel website says ‘The island has mysterious spots as well as graceful scenery’. I don’t have the imagination to see any resemblance to a tiger or anything else – it looks like an island to me. However, it’s very impressive to see as you drive down the road towards the shoreline.
Unsurprisingly, the shoreline is volcanic. The black rocks are full of cracks and fissures and holes, providing a habitat for shellfish and other things. I’m not sure what the correct identification of the things in the photo below is and I’m hoping someone will help me out. Are they sea anemones, or tube anemones, or something else?
Half an hour by boat from Songaksan is the southern-most island in Korea, Marado. It’s a very pleasant place on a mild December day – a rocky, grassy place that’s initially reminiscent of Pembrokeshire’s Skomer Island.
Unlike Skomer, it does have several restaurants, at least a couple of B&Bs, a Buddhist temple (more of which in another post), a Catholic church, a lighthouse, and one football goalpost. That list might suggest it’s a reasonably large community, but that’s mainly for the boatloads of tourists. It takes an hour to wander round the island, including time to scramble over some rocks and take it all in.
As I said before, not very far south (beyond the fishing boats in the photo below) is the newly-declared Chinese air defence zone in the East China Sea. Now South Korea have extended their own air defence zone so that it overlaps the Chinese one. I’m really not sure that doubly-defended is twice as good as singly-defended.
There’s also conflict further south again, where China is in dispute with the Philippines, which The Guardian describes as “one of five countries challenging Beijing’s claims of ownership over the oil-rich South China Sea.”
Ah! Oil, now it begins to make sense.
We had lunch in a little café overlooking Chagwido Island (on the right of the picture above) and Wado Island (further left). The sky was blue, the sun was hot, and the sea was sparkling. The café had a big picture window looking westwards over the sea so that we could take it all in as we had our paninis and smoothies. Glorious – that’s somewhere to take visitors, even if the fare isn’t traditional Korean.
The local squid-drying and bike-hire shop just down the road didn’t seem to be doing any business.