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A wet, two-day trip to Udo offers an empty Olle course[Jeju's Trails] Days 5 and 6 of a 1,200 km journey recording Jeju's hiking trails, oreum (volcanic cones) and Olle courses
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승인 2011.09.12  12:15:28
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▲ Photos by Steve Oberhauser

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 ( —Ed.

The Journey
These are the top eight sites in sequential order for Day 5: Udo, Sanhosa (or Coral) Beach, north - Sanhosa (or Coral) Beach - Someori Oreum, west peak - Someori Oreum, peak - Someori Oreum, original lighthouse - reference point - Sangamokdong - Haneul Minbak

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minbak -- 40,000
market -- 2,000
Total -- 42,000

1.5 liters lemon Gatorade, 2 packages wheat Diget, 1 Vitamin C tablet, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 5
Why is Udo so attractive? With so much press about Udo, both in the Korean media, and what little English news there is in Korea, it gets a lot of attention. Why? Is it too much attention? I find absolutely nothing wrong with Udo, except (see below) … Is it really that special? What I have heard and read, people like to talk about it is what Jeju was before the neon lights, development and occasional debauchery. A simpler, wholesomer way of life. So that’s why people love Udo? They grow magical gold peanuts, have the “whale nostril cave”, and cater to a lot of mainland tourists. I liked being on Udo (basically with a few hundred tourists, and alone hiking) for two days during the passing of Typhoon Kulap. When I was about to board the ferry out and saw the mass of people coming in, that’s when I had no more interest. The lyrics read: “ For I must be traveling on now / 'Cause there's too many places I've got to see”. One last thought, if people think Udo is what Jeju used to be, what does that say of people in Seoul who think Jeju is their panacea?

▲ View from Someori Peak. Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Lesson learned. I’ve learned a few things during the first six days of this excursion. Such as the necessity of a clean and sharp knife to cut blood blisters, the necessity to have a good Band-Aid that covers the mess, and the necessity of purification tablets to deal with different unfiltered tap water to prevent unsettling. Yet, the most important thing I learned: Never walk an Olle course backward! I tried in the morning because I was already heading in the opposite direction for a few kilometers. I failed miserably, aborted the attempt and had to take a night in a minbak just before the rain started coming down hard. The Olle courses are not laid out to walk backward. Period. Rather, they are planned forward (with blue markings) and then orange markings are applied in the opposite direction next to each blue mark. If the course was planned in the opposite direction, those orange markings are not strategically placed. Hence, save any trouble and never, ever walk backward. The amount of orange arrows on Udo were countable on two hands, and there are other blue arrows that cut across the island, possibly a bike or mountain bike lane. Very confusing.

Day to recoup. I was a bit miffed at wasting a day because of the markings, and my stupidity for attempting to go backward. Sleep fixed that. What’s also strange, on Udo’s Olle Course 1-1 there are two places that have a small circle route on the map next to the ferry passenger dock, but on the route there is no indication of this. Specifically, there are two places on the trail that when walked forward, a hiker has three! options to choose from. During the combination of two days, I walked all parts and much more. When I walked forward, I won’t mention how many times I had to backtrack to the last marker. Or the two workers, one a soldier, when I asked what direction to go and they both pointed me in the wrong direction when it was so obvious where I was coming from. Argh!

Udo Middle School. The minbak where I stayed at off of Coral Beach - which used to be called Sanhosa, but now is officially called “Red Algal Nodule Beach Sediments in U-do” according to the sign, huh? I understand the science, but that does not roll off the tongue easily - was great. The owners even better. When I asked if they had internet, the man took me to Udo Middle School to use his school computer for an hour while it was pouring rain, and he did some work. Above and beyond what was needed to be done. The school’s atrium and common space was unlike any other school I have seen with the plants, tables, books and artwork all mixed together. That was the highlight of my day.

Typhoon Kulap raging through the night. I had a lot of windows in my minbak room. And the winds were incredibly strong during the night. I thought a few times about glass shattering.

Sept. 10, 2011

The Journey
These are the top 13 sites in sequential order for Day 6: Haneul Minbak - Olle Course 1-1 start - Sanhosa (or Coral) Beach - Olle reference point, islet - Lighthouse, Ahn Jung-Hee Gallery bus - Olle reference point, north of Hagosudong Beach - Biyangdo - Geommolle overlook - Someori Oreum, original lighthouse - Olle reference point - Olle Course 1-1 finish - Udo passenger ferry dock - Seongsan passenger ferry terminal

market -- 6,000
ferry ticket (Udo to Seongsan) -- 2,000
Total -- 8,000

3 hard-boiled eggs, coconut biscuits, 1 cup ramen noodles, 1 package choco Diget, 680ml Pocari Sweat, 1 Vitamin C tablet, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 6

Course 1-1 complete. Dare I say it was boring? It was wet. I doubt many people have walked the Udo Olle course alone and not ran into another hiker along the route. That happened today, but it was also raining in sheets for parts and the umbrella wanted to bend. Beautiful? Sure.

▲ The start of Olle trail No 1-1. Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Udo Lighthouse Park. Besides sleeping on Coral Beach, I would say the lighthouse park is tops because of its design. I’m not really fond of lighthouses, but a well designed park where outdoor models are effectively displayed throughout an expansive area of space works. In addition, the first lighthouse of Jejudo, first lit in March 1906, according to the sign, is at the peak of Someori Oreum (which encompasses the park). Also, according to the sign, it was restored to its original condition in December of 2005 to mark its 100th anniversary.

▲ Map at Udo Lighthouse Park. Photo by Steve Oberhauser

What’s special to you about Udo? I’m very curious why people love Udo so much. Since I can’t speak Korean, and most Koreans I try to speak to can’t … Tell me foreigners and Koreans: Why all the love for an island which a lot of literature states, “looks like a cow lying on the sea”? Am I missing something I have not written about or experienced?

On route to Goseong. Walking from the Seongsan Ferry Terminal to Goseong, not only did a former Sehwa High School student direct me to the PC room (in English) when I spotted him in his family’s driveway passing close by, another old student was at a bus stop with about 10 older adults. I was very out of place in this area. She said, “Hello, where are you going?” I responded: “PC Bang.” The elders understood and laughed.

What’s next? With the first six days complete out of Jeju City through Udo and my feet wet, figuratively and literally, I finally start Olle Course 1 and stay on one throughout. Two days to Pyoseon (three courses total) and two more days to the Seogwipo World Cup Stadium (four courses total). Those are my next two goals.

Sept. 11, 2011
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