Contributor Steve Oberhauser 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 11 sites in sequential order for Day 3: Gimnyeong Beach campground - Gimnyeong Beach - Manjang Cave corner sign on 1132 - Gimnyeong Lave Tube - Manjang Cave (main sculpture) - Gimnyeong Maze Park - coastal road turnoff at 1132 - Woljeong Beach - Haengwon Wind Farm - Pyeongdae Beach - Sehwa Main Street
Spent gimbap -- 2,500 Manjang Cave entrance fee -- 2,000 Pocari Sweat -- 2,500 Sehwa sauna -- 4,000 coffee -- 600 Total -- 11,600 won Consumed 1 gimbap roll, a lot of pu-er tea, moon pie, greasy chicken, Korean vegetable side dishes, cold water kimchi, rice, seaweed soup, dry seaweed, small cup of ice cream, 1.5 liters Pocari Sweat, 2 small cans cold coffee, 1 hot coffee, 3 Vitamin C tablets, endless amounts of water Thoughts from Day 3 Best story first. Close to Pyeongdae Beach there are two corner markets across the street from each other that, I believe, double as residences. It was twilight about 6 p.m., and Pocari time. I split the middle. I chose the right one. A man, about 50-ish was at the left one and when he saw me go the other way, he started yelling to the person inside my chosen store. The problem is, he just flat passed out in front of the screen door I wanted access to and started mumbling. I presume the woman inside the store/residence was the 80-ish-year-old mother. I negotiated for the 1.5 liters, and without missing a beat, she harangued that man (son) from the start of our transaction to the end. She even had a hard time opening the screen door for the exchange to occur… Last year summertime I camped here with a kayak and had a witching hour experience I will not repeat.
▲ The author snaps the beach on Day 3. Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Manjang Cave delivers. As usual. Small tip. Go early, real early. I hoofed there about 8 a.m., from Gimnyeong Beach and found even though they advertise it opens at 9, this day the ticket office clocked in before and there were only a few people. Silence in the cave is perfect. No tour groups this time of the morning.
Mystery upstream and downstream from the UNESCO site. There’s an incredible map inside a little white information structure before approaching the cave. Go there. It explains three areas upstream from the cave and three areas downstream that are all closed to the public… From north to south upstream: Seonheul Vertical Donggul is an inverted bell-shape space 35 meters in depth; Bengdwigul stretches about 4.5 kilometers and there are “very complicated little caves intertwined vertically and horizontally”; Utsanjeungul and Bukoreumgul run 2.3 km and are in multiple levels and have extensive collapses inside. Downstream from Manjang Cave there is Gimnyeong Cave at 0.7 meters in length with lava falls and flow lines; recently “discovered” 3-meter long Yongcheon Cave; Dangcheomuldonggul is at 110 meters. All underground and originate from Geomunoreum. Information for this came from the small display.
Lost in a maze. In three years I’ve never gone into the maze at Gimnyeong Maze Park. It is impressive and I finished it in about 20 minutes. Before going in, I was promised assistance, if needed. Thankfully not. I think a good-natured curmudgeon runs the place. So I’ve been told.
Communication breakdown. It may be too hard to explain and why, plus I do not want to explain. But I am currently with my cell phone, which cannot call or text out; only incoming calls and texts register. Sounds strange, yeah? It’s part of the decompression stop, from being in the depths of technological wired mayhem Korea offers - always being plugged in at all times - to approaching my surface, only what electricity will supply upon returning to the mountains in Virginia in a few months. No Internet. No television.
Oreum-less day. Today may be the only day where I will not get to an oreum or other trail. The lay of the land. A flat, coastal and hot walk. After Manjang Cave and the Gimnyeong Maze Park, I immediately got on the coastal road and trudged to Sehwa in about three-and-a-half hours. Lovely, dripping in sweat with coastal-fisherman-friendly scenery. At completion, a sauna never looked so good.
Zorba is still kickin’. There’s a coffee shop with no roof directly across the street from Woljeong Beach where young Koreans like to frequent. A good story is there. Supposedly they were looking for another location. An empty old-school wooden elementary desk sat on the beach side of the road waiting to be occupied next to other Koreans occupying a mishmash of low-grade seats. In the air was some old-school Western music kickin’ as well. Woljeong is where it’s at for beaches, considering it’s not on any English tourist maps. Clean white sand stretching and a nice grassy area with plenty of wooden structures on top west of the beach.
Sauna and PC hopping. Although the official title of this project is “Hike Jeju” for The Jeju Weekly, friends stateside have dubbed this Steve’s “Homeless Hike.” To further their claim, I’ve been to six different saunas in the last seven days, and countless PC rooms to make the hike a reality during and for preparation. Many more to come. Free and alive.
Reading signs. Everything gets read, and most are photographed, since there are so few translated into English. This one I loved at a convenience store at Manjang Cave: “Create your Most Delicious happiness.” Their gimbap delivered the goods just after 8 a.m.
Anonymous Vitamin C donation. You know who you are. Now I am guaranteed not to get scurvy during the Olle portion of this expedition. Gracias.
Date Sept. 8, 2011
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