▲ Boatloads of visitors came to Gapado in early April to enjoy the second annual Barley Festival. Photo courtesy Jeju-sori
The first weekend of April was a beautiful time for a festival. Jeju was bathed in sunshine and garlanded with newly blooming flowers, especially on the islet of Gapado. This year marks the second annual Barley Festival, as well as the opening of Gapado’s own olle walking trail. The festival, which was celebrated from April 1 through 5, attracted boatloads of visitors. The event schedule featured a musical performance each day, beginning with the traditional Korean percussion music of salmulnori. In addition to enjoying the performances, guests were encouraged to participate in kite flying, food tasting and exploring the islet. Since 1842, Gapado has been home to haenyeo women divers who harvest the surrounding waters. Visitors were invited to explore the fisheries, as well as walk through the lush barley fields on land.
Saturday, April 3, in particular, promised a blissful spring day for the festival visitors. A gentle wind highlighted the islet’s charm and allowed kites to fly whimsically against the baby-blue sky. Gapado offered its guests the kind of peace and tranquility that only a city-less islet can. There was no rush to finish anything, no pressure to perform and no reminders of the hustle and bustle that often characterizes a Korean day. Families feasted on bibimbap and pajeon while sipping makgeolli, and savored the freshness of the seafood. The center of the islet was where the main festivities took place, and is also the point at which the two paths of the new olle walking trail meet. The paths, labeled A and B, cover the perimeter of the islet. In terms of scenic differences, path A features a rockier trail and a unique prayer site at which stones have been stacked in the hopes of obtaining favor from the gods. Path B gives walkers views of the sea from within the barley fields.
▲ Photo courtesy Jeju-sori
No map is necessary as the Gapado olle trail leads back to the center of the islet where it began. Many older visitors who walked the path gathered edible plants along the way. Others spent their time in quiet reflection.
Gapado’s Barley Festival and newly opened olle trail reminded visitors and residents of the mystique and serenity of the islet, qualities that are difficult to find in today’s overly-processed and fast-paced world.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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