Above the Sanbanggulsa temple, up steps through the trees that cover the lower slopes of Sanbangsan, is a cave which is home to a small Buddhist grotto. A statue of the Buddha sits on a platform at the back of the cave, with candles and offerings placed by visitors. A stone trough has been placed under the steady drip of water from the roof in front of the Buddha with ladles to allow people to drink. A monk, wearing the grey of Korean Buddhists, was chanting and striking his moktak (hollow percussion instrument) when I visited a couple of days ago.
The location is quite something, with the rock face of Sanbangsan high above and views southwards over the coast to the islands beyond.
In the latest in the series of photos of Jeju crops taken across stone walls, here are some pictures of a rice field near Museuplo. There isn’t much rice on Jeju – there’s plenty on the mainland – because the soil drains too well. The top photo has Sanbangsan, visible from miles around, in the background.
The bottom photo – same wall, same rice field – shows a water tower. These are a feature of the Jeju landscape and I’ve been meaning to write about those for a while. Water towers of Jeju – watch this space.
An elderly gentleman approached me as I took these photos. He had enough English to tell me his age (70), to point to his home behind a stone wall, and to tell me that he was born there. He also confirmed the identity of the plants.
It’s another reminder that we’ve been here a year. These are common sights in this part of Jeju in late summer – bundles of the plant propped against walls, spread on the ground in car parks, on cycle ways, at the side the road. The difference between last year and this is that I know what it is. I should have worked it out earlier: it’s sesame. The pods are filled with seeds.
The photo below shows bundles of sesame leaning against a low stone wall and covered with plastic. It also shows a couple of tombs in the field behind, Mt Dan, and, furthest away, Sangbansan. That’s not a bad landscape to pass on the way to the supermarket.
Typhoon Neoguri may be passing some way south and east of Jeju, but it has still been blowing hard on the island last night and today. Down on the coast between Sanbangsan and Songaksan, the waves – grey and menacing – were battering the coast, throwing spray and sand over the coast road.
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.
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.
Yesterday was a grey day on Jeju. The weather was wet and everyone will have been thinking of Wednesday’s tragic sinking of the Jeju-bound ferry.
It was raining steadily as we left Museulpo at the start of Olle trail 11. By the time we got to the top of Museulbong (‘po’ means port, ‘bong’ means hill) the rain had eased but the rest of the walk was still pretty soggy. Olle 11 doesn’t follow the coast; instead, it heads northwards for 18 km through farmland and forest.
Each trail has a point at the start and the end and one point somewhere along the trail where you can stamp your Olle ‘passport’. The photo above is the stamping station at the top of Museulbong and also shows the blue and orange arrows that show the forwards and backwards directions of the route respectively. Sometimes the arrows are just painted on the ground or on a wall and sometimes the way is marked by blue and orange ribbons.
The only other time I got my camera out was at the foot of Museulbong. Beyond the grave mounds, the fields and the greenhouses in the photo below are Mt. Dan and, further, Sanbangsan.
Today, this area of south-west Jeju grows vegetables of all kinds – radishes, leeks, cabbages, potatoes and more – but there are still plenty of clues about the wartime role of this flat land.
That tree-topped hillock in the photo below isn’t natural: It covers a man-made shelter. You can go down the steps in the little gap near the right-hand end and emerge at the other end.
The shelter is a relic of the war, and this was an airfield built by the Japanese to defend Japan and from which to launch bombing missions on China. The photo below shows some of the bunkers that remain as well as showing, in the distance, how Sanbangsan rises out of the landscape.
Olle trail 10 is home territory, with the finish point in Museulpo (or Moseulpo, depending on how it has been transliterated), close to Global Education City. So I knew that the route went past the volcanic features of Sanbangsan and Songaksan but I didn’t know about some of the features at the start of the trail.
Within a few hundred metres of the start you come across this debris of stratified conglomerate (I made that up) fallen from the cliffs along the edge of the sea. That’s Sanbangsan in the background of the picture above.
A few hundred metres further on and it’s all change; it’s back to the volcanic black rock that’s so common on Jeju.
Here are a couple of pictures of columnar jointing. You can see this in lots of places along the south coast of the island but to see it in such close proximity to the sand-coloured rock we’d passed a few hundred metres earlier, and which returns later along the trail, was quite something.
There have been never-ending gales and rain in the UK and disruption caused by snow in Yokohama, but it’s been bright and sunny on Jeju today; blue skies, warmth in the sun, the gentle sound of waves on the beach. Can you see any clouds in these photos? I can’t.
We walked Olle 9 today, which is shorter than most of the trails that circle the island. It follows the coast in the early part, climbing from the little harbour at Daepyeong to the top of the cliffs in the picture above before turning inland to Wolla-bong peak. It then follows the Andeok valley back to the coast at Hwasun.
There’s a view from the side of Wolla-bong across the small town of Hwasun to Sanbangsan in the photo below. Sanbangsan, which is also in the photo at the top of my blog, is the most prominent feature of this part of the island, rising steeply from the mostly flat landscape around it.
I’ve been careful to make sure the industrial buildings and chimneys of Hwasun haven’t appeared in any photos before, but it’s probably more honest to include them in at least one photo.
We visited the Sanbanggulsa temple today, at the foot of Sanbangsan Mountain – that’s the mountain in the photo at the top of my blog. We hadn’t set out to see it; we found it by chance.
There’s a temple building next to the road as you enter, with a big golden Buddha statue next to it. You can also walk up the steps through the trees and visit the grotto, in the side of the cliff face.
There are many things I don’t understand about Buddhism – the different statues and what they represent. Worshipers also leave various offerings, and I was intrigued by the little figures of children left at the foot of large statues, with their bald heads and big eyes, and their mixed expressions of piety, longing or irreverence.