It’s a rare thing to send off a friend — and a Weekly colleague — on a 1,200 kilometer journey by foot but that is what has happened this week as we said bon voyage to our regular contributor Steve Oberhauser. Steve has meticulously planned (and now will execute) an ambitious project to hike and write about all the main Jeju mountain trails, every oreum (volcanic cone) open to the public (about 150 of them), and assess every Olle trail, all in the span of about 50 days.Look for Steve’s reports over the coming weeks, and as always you can send your feedback to Steve and The Weekly on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/JejuWeekly). —Ed.
The Journey These are the top 20 sites in sequential time order for Day 1:From Olle Course 18 start across from Dongmun Market at Sanji Stream - small park overlooking Jeju Coastal Ferry Terminal - Sarabong peak - Borim Temple - Byeoldobong peak - Byeoldobong flat field - Goneuldong - Hwabuk Stele Street - Hwabuk smoke mound - Hwanhae Great Wall - Samyang Beach - Samyang-dong Prehistoric Site - Wondangbong peak - Bultapsa - Sinchon sea view with cross marker - bridge over Sinchon Harbor - Daeseom Islet - Jocheon Watch Tower (Yeonbukjeong) - Manse Hill (Olle Course 18 finish) - Hamdeok Beach
Spent Pocari Sweat -- 2,000 taxi from sauna to Dongmun Market -- 2,500 bananas -- 1,500 Samyang-dong Prehistoric Site -- 700 cabbage, fish -- 1,250 PC room -- 3,900 Total -- 11,850 won
Consumed 620ml Pocari Sweat, 3 bananas, ½ head of raw cabbage, 1 can of mackerel pike, endless amounts of water
▲ At the start of a 1,200 km journey. Steve's gear and a ganse (Olle Trail No. 18), in Jeju City, Sept. 6. Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Thoughts from Day 1 First impressions are positive. Although the Bushnell BackTrack GPS was reading high 20s in the Celsius department throughout the day and I am not partial to Olle Course 18, the three full hikes of Sarabong, Byeoldobong and Wondangbong were superb, especially their peaks. In addition, there is a wealth of information in English signs, mainly from Dongmun Market to Wondangbong, to provide further key insights to the area. Ending at and sleeping on Hamdeok Beach is never a bad idea.
A work in progress. This will be a long hike until the end. So, too, will be the writing and overall project. A rating system and notes are being logged in a paper notebook. Everything will eventually culminate when I have time to write (most likely in a PC room).
Local action only. Nowhere else have I seen the precise movement of some of the locals around oreum, including the patting of the back against a tree, the face shields and colorful “accessories,” the backwards walk, the challenging exercise equipment, the grunts, the wails and the stares. Around Sarabong is the best place to experience all within a short time span.
Kudos for the nonsmoking policy at Sarabong. This was done for the improvement of health to all visitors. The sign is nice, but how will it be possible to stop the multitude of nasty used butts from littering the lookout grounds at the peak?
Gem in Samyang. It’s called the Samyang-dong Prehistoric Site, home to a settlement area dating from the first century BC, which has a small interactive museum with many signs in English, a glass encased and roofed excavation site, as well as different styles of recreated huts. Only 700 won, and about three blocks south of Samyang Black Sand Beach.
Moving and shaking around Bultapsa. The only five-storied pagoda found on the island, Bultapsa dates back to the 1300s. Around the grounds, just below Wondangbong, there used to be an enormous Buddha statue and it was visible from the top of the oreum if looking down in the right direction. The statue’s foundation, it looks like, is being replaced and has been moved in pieces to the right of the smashed rubble.
Jocheon’s Watch Tower. For Day 1, this is the spot to relax and see off of Olle Course 18. In Jocheon, along the coast, the information sign close by indicates Yeonbukjeong was restored in 1590 and sits at least four meters above the surrounding area, overlooking the sea and surrounding village. Back in the day exiles expressed their thoughts of loyalty, respect and longing for the king while awaiting news from the court in Seoul of their release, according to the sign.
A bad omen or just a sign of better things to come? Upon entering the bathroom at the top of Sarabong, I was surprised, to say the least within two hours of the start of my hike. Behind Door 1: a brown frown bomb not flushed down. Behind Door 2: a dookie surprise covering the back part of the seat (Did any one teach you how to sit fella?) Behind Door 3: a dehydrated dark yellow tinkle sprawling all over. Struck out. No thank you. Let’s hope this part is cleaner during the hike.
At the end of Olle Course 18. A hiker reaches Manse Hill, where an incredible memorial tower - reaching 25 meters high and 32 meters wide - stands proudly to recognize the patriots and martyrs, as the sign reads, “for their devotion to recover sovereignty and achieve independence of Korea from Japanese rule.”
What’s next? The Olle courses take a long break until Udo. That means a long walk to where the passenger ferry terminal is for Cow Island. From what I can remember between Hamdeok and Udo, these sites are on my wish list to visit: Manjang Cave, The Gimnyeong Maze Park, the beaches at Gimnyeong, Woljeong, Pyeongdae, Sehwa and Hado, the Haenyeo Museum and any oreum I can find. Once Udo is reached, I will basically be on an Olle trail, which will wrap around the island until returning to Dongmun Market. This will complete Part 1 of this three-part journey.
Date Sept. 6, 2011
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