Monday, February 28, 2011

Sam's Kayaks

These pictures are actually a couple of years old, and I think it's time to put them on the blog.  Sam, an Alaskan and co-owner of La Vie, the popular foreigner bar in Jeju, has taken up an unusual hobby for someone living in on the Korean island, making kayaks.  These photos were taken during the Jejustock festival and it was the first time I'd seen the kayaks on the open water.  They are fully made of wood, with canvas exterior.  I might be wrong, but I believe they are based on a Nordic design for speed.  The paddle is particularly interesting design with a much narrower blade as you see in modern kayaks.  It was really fun to paddle this one.  It was surprisingly fast but also surprisingly unstable, as Phil found out in the bottom picture!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Suh Myeong Suk, Jeju Olle Founder

This is a photo of myself and Suh Myeong Suk, the founder of the unbelievably popular Olle trails.  She got the idea of creating this series of walking trails around Jeju Island after walking the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela across Spain.  She put in the first Olle trail in 2007, and the Olle trails have now grown to become one of the cornerstones of Jeju eco-tourism.  I was able to meet up with her at the opening of the Olle trail on the islet of Gapado and speak with her on behalf of the Jeju Weekly newspaper. She's a truly amazing woman, tiny, and full of life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

School Trip to Halla Mountain

There's a cool Korean saying that my friend Jung Hee taught me as I was hiking one of the Olle trails.  등잔 밑이 어둡다.  "It's dark under the lamp."  What it means is that people tend to look far ahead and miss what's right in front of them.  It especially applies to where you live, your hometown and your surroundings.

I've met an unbelievable number of locals in Jeju who have never been to the top of Halla Mountain, now a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and the tallest mountain in South Korea.  If they have been to Hallasan, the only time was when they were in middle or high school on a field trip.  When these school groups come, they don't come as a class, but the entire school floods the mountain.  Thousands of students pack the buses and pack the trails all at once.  I met this group as I was coming down...It was so crowded that it was impossible to pass through.  It had a similar feeling to the running of the bulls.  I love the fact that the school is getting out to enjoy the unique nature of Jeju, but we'll leave the environmental impacts for another post....

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunset from Samiak Oreum (삼의악 오름)

I don't know what the deal with the funky lines on the picture is...maybe I compressed it too much?  I'll try and fix it one of these days.

One of the beauties about the 368 oreums (secondary volcanic hills) on Jeju is that there's always one close by.  Usually, I've found that the closest ones to your home become your favorites.  My favorite is the one that's just behind Jeju National University, where I work.  It goes by a couple of names, Sae Mi Oreum, or Samiak Oreum, but either way, it's the same place.  It seems like I've been going there at least once a week since I moved to the Ara-Dong neighborhood.  About a year ago, the trail was renovated, a staircase was added all the way up the steep side :( and the trail was improved around the frontside and around the stream where were used to play some disc golf.  Wintertime can be a bit chilly for a sunset hike, but it can be a gorgeous view on a clear day, where you can see all of Jeju City, out to Hamdeok Beach and as far as Chujado on the most perfect of days.

Thursday, February 03, 2011