▲ Steve Oberhauser, with The Weekly staff in tow, take to Chuja Island for his final Olle trek. Photo by Todd Thacker
Last week I had the chance to travel to Chuja Island, some 70 minutes northwest of Jeju Island by fast ferry. The idea was to catch up with Steve Oberhauser on the last of his 24 Olle trail hikes, the first of a three-part Jeju Weekly project called “Hike Jeju.”
As explained in an article previously published by The Weekly, Chuja Island is an archipelago composed of 42 small islets. Of these, Upper and Lower Chuja Island, Chupo Island, and Hoenggan Island are inhabited. On clear days, you can see both the Korean mainland and Jeju Island.
The Pink Dolphin fast ferry (12,500 won one way to Chuja, 11,000 won back to Jeju) runs from the Jeju Coastal Ferry Terminal, in Geonip-dong, Jeju City. It leaves Jeju at 9:30 a.m., and returns at 4:10 p.m.
Despite the rough seas and stomach-churning trip (the ferry was definitely airborne on multiple occasions), we arrived in good spirits.
It turns out that Chuja scored high marks and high praise from Steve, assistant editor Darryl Coote, and our newspaper’s designer Mr. Yun Seung Un.
The four of us had a great day alternatively walking Olle Course No. 18-1 with Steve, and puttering around Upper and Lower Chuja Island on rented scooters. We didn’t have a whole lot of time (rough seas meant the ferry had to reduce speed) so a set of wheels allowed us to see a lot more of the island than we otherwise would have.
So, I’d like to congratulate Steve on completing the first part of the Hike Jeju project — 400+km and 24 Olle trails in 28 days. He’s rated and written up all the Olle courses. We will soon publish all 24 individual articles on our Web site.
• Actually witnessing firsthand Steve walk and record his Olle hike. As I wrote in my last column, I’ve been editing his work and vicariously traveling with him, albeit from my desk in Jeju City while editing his copy and entering in the GPS data on a Google Map (goo.gl/94lsB).
• Stopping our scooters on the coastal road on the north side of Lower Chuja Island to watch military officers train juniors on an M-16 firing range, just a stone’s throw from the ocean. The targets were, much to our surprise, plastic North Korean soldiers.
• Getting a spectacular 180-degree view of the Korean mainland and South Sea on a clear, sunny day. The scenery and greenery was amazing.
• Experiencing the freedom of traveling by scooter on (thankfully) mostly empty roads.
• Watching with amazement as Darryl unflinchingly consumed an entire fried yellow corvina fish head during (a delicious) lunch. Steve was game too, though given his previous restaurant reviews for the paper, his stomach is certified iron-clad.
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