Sunday, August 6, 2017

South Korea - Day 6 - Jeju Island

Still catching up on travel's our last day on Jeju Island!

This morning we picked up some triangular gimbap for a quick breakfast, then took two buses to the east side of Jeju Island to visit Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak.
Seongsan Ilchulbong is a coastal volcanic tuff cone formed 5000 years ago and is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The aerial picture from Wikipedia showcases it well:
You can hike up a series of staircases on the side of the cone to a platform on the rim of the caldera. We started walking around 10 am and were at the top by 10:45 am. The trail is a popular one; it was selfie sticks galore at viewing platforms on the way up. At the top you get a view of the colourful roofs of the town to one side and the expansive green caldera to the other. It was a little hazy, so we couldn't see too far; but it was still pretty spectacular.
partway up
view from the summit -- towards the town
and towards the caldera
After sitting at the top for a while, we headed down via another set of staircases; taking care, as the wind was whipping around like crazy!
Back at the base, we wandered the snack stands and souvenir shops, picking out a little dol hareubang ("stone grandfather") statue. Carved from volcanic basalt, dol hareubang are a symbol of Jeju Island; you see them everywhere and they're believed to offer protection and promote fertility.
We stopped for bulgogi burgers and fries at a McDonald's with a spectacular view, then headed back to a cove at the mountain base to catch the 1:30 pm haenyeo performance. 
Haenyeo are female divers of Jeju Island, known for their strength and determination. Almost all are over 50 years old, with some even in their 80s. They head out year-round in wetsuits for hours at a time, diving up to 30 metres with no specialized equipment to harvest abalone, conch, sea squirt, sea cucumbers, octopus, and seaweed, amongst other things. These are then sold on the coast, generally to be consumed raw.
We watched five elderly haenyo perform a little ritual on the shore, with one lady chanting while the others shook their nets and buoys, before all five got into the water.
They dove up and down in the bay, staying out for up to half an hour. It wasn't until they returned to empty their nets onto the rocks that I really appreciated how hard their work was -- apart from one who'd caught a little octopus, the others had collected only seaweed.
I felt badly for this older lady who returned with her net empty. That water was freezing cold!
We took the bus back to Jeju City and found a small restaurant for an early dinner of rice with a sweet soybean sauce and kimchi soup.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...