▲ Hallim Park offers visitors eight themed areas to explore: Palm Tree Avenue, Subtropical Botanical Garden, Hyeopjae and Ssangyong caves, Stone and Bonsai Garden, Jae-am Folk Village, Bird Garden, Water garden, and Jae-Am Stone Exhibition Hall. There’s so much to do that it’s worth making a day trip to fully explore, and worth remembering to bring something warm to wear for the journey into the caves. Left photo by TinaJanssen, Others courtesy Hallim Park
Long before Jeju Island was known as a tourist destination, park founder Song Bong-kyu had a great vision and plan in mind for Hallim Park, and the tropical treasure land it is today. Hallim Park is located on the western side of the island next to Hyeopjae and Geumreung beaches, and proudly welcomes 1.2 million visitors per year.
Guests from around the world, including government figures from the US, North Korea, Finland, Japan and China, have enjoyed the beauty and mystery of the natural sites, plants, birds and history unique to Jeju.
Upon entering the park, Palm Tree Avenue surrounds you with lush, green vegetation and fresh flowers as it enchantingly leads you to the Subtropical Gardens. The gardens are full of natural beauty and fresh aromas. From the beautiful fragrant flower gardens to the herb gardens, tropical trees, cacti and palms, one can see and enjoy over 2,000 varieties of wild plant life unique to Jeju. Soft music adds to the atmosphere of your stroll through the pathways of this beautiful garden.
Not far from the botanic garden is a bird garden. One can visit the parrots, and observe the beautiful spread of the peacock’s feathers, as well as enjoy refreshments in the coffee house. The coffee house has been strategically placed for the viewing of various species of birds, and offers a menu of coffee, teas, juices, cookies and sandwiches.
Hyeopjae and Ssangyong caves Hyeopjae and Ssangyong caves comprise Korea’s Natural Monument No. 236, and are recognized to be unique by geological experts as well as holding high academic value. These experts have found stalactites and stalagmites growing in the caves, and note that normally such things are rarely found in lava caves. These caves, formed 2.5 million years ago after the eruption of Mt. Halla, are now recognized as “golden lime” caves; due to the high concentration of calcium salts. Stalactites can be recognized as tube-shaped structures growing downward from the ceiling of the cave and stalagmites are columns that grow from the floor up. Both structures are formed from evaporated water containing calcium-bicarbonate. Fossilized seashells, frozen lava, and numerous other structures enhance one’s journey through the caves.
Jae-am Folk Village and Stone Exhibition Hall As one leaves the wonder and mystery of the caves, a warm welcome at Jae-am’s Folk Village is soon to be enjoyed. Here, “village people” prepare traditional Jeju candies and foods, and a restaurant serves Jeju’s unique cuisine. Traditional foods such as pork bulgogi, sea urchin soup with rice, mung-bean pancakes and buckwheat noodles in pheasant broth, are enjoyed by guests. Jeju’s tallest stone grandfather (known as “dolhareubang”) graces the village with his presence, and seems to be overlooking the adorned village with pride. The village displays numerous pumpkin ornaments, wooden animals and sculptures, narrow alleys, stone fences and thatched houses. The thatched houses are equipped with utensils, equipment and furniture used by Jeju’s ancestors.
Near the village exit is the Stone Exhibition Hall. Song and his wife have furnished the hall with their collection of over 500 intriguing natural lava stone (lava or stone?) sculptures, fossils and minerals. This collection includes stones resembling singing birds, waterfalls and palaces.
▲ Visitors can enjoy the vibrant colors and beautiful sounds of a wide variety of birds; including Mandarin ducks, doves, peacocks, parrots, pheasants, and even an ostrich. Photos courtesy Hallim Park
Hallim water garden and Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden A short distance from the Stone Exhibition Hall is the water garden. The water garden is full of aquatic plants, and ponds that are formed from lava. The relaxing sound of the waterfalls tempts one to venture further into the garden to witness a grand waterfall, beautiful stone structures, fish, flowers and beautiful greenery.
Now is the perfect time for exploring the Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden. The garden bursts with the warm, fall colors of maples, persimmons and zelkova (?)elms. In addition, one can see various bonsai and rock formations alongside 300 year old pines. Many of the stones and stone sculptures have been brought in from other countries such as Brazil, China and Malaysia.
The Park has come a long way since its initial planning stages in 1971, when Song, foreseeing that tourism would be the future industry of Jeju Island, purchased the land to build the park. Today, it continues to embrace his pioneering spirit through his motto “Love of Homeland” and his mission “to develop further into an international resort destination”.
In summer the park is open every day from 8:30a.m.-7:30p.m. The rest of the year it closes at 6:00p.m. Hallim Park can be reached easily by bus from any of the main bus terminals. For more information call 064 796 0001 or visit www.hallimpark.co.kr. From Oct.1-25 the Hallim Park Pumpkin Festival is held, featuring a variety of pumpkin related activities and games.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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