Saturday 3 June Jeju-do (South Korea)

This morning we arrived in South Korea’s Jeju-do, which was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002.
Jeju province encompasses the South Korean island of Jeju in the Korea Strait. It is known for its beach resorts loved by honeymooners and volcanic landscape of craters and cavelike lava tubes. Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, features hiking trails, a crater lake at the 1,950m summit and nearby Gwaneumsa Temple. The Geomunoreum Lava Tube System includes 7km-long Manjanggul Cave, created centuries ago when the volcano was still active.
We disembarked the ship via an elaborate system of stairs, long corridors and Immigration passport check and we boarded our bus with our Local Guide Sanghee, who said we could call her Sunny. As we travelled along the highway towards our first stop, Sanghee told us some interesting facts about Jedu-do Island. The island is 31 kilometres from north to south and 73 kilometres west to east and is 1850 square kilometres. She also told us that it would take 5 hours to drive around the island on the highway. She said the island has three things in abundance: rock (there are lots of dry rock walls – no cement is used); wind (there are several wind farms to generate electricity) and strong-minded women.
Our first stop was the World-Heritage-listed Manjanggul Lava Tube, one of the world’s best lava tunnels. A lava tunnel is formed when the lava that was deep in the ground spouts from the peak and flows to the surface. Manjanggul Cave was found by Mr Jong-hew and his student expedition group from Gimnyeong Elementary School in 1946.
We went down many steps, 30 metres underground, where it was approximately 11 degrees (we had our jackets on) and walked along a dimly lit, wet, very uneven path in the Lava Tunnel that was made from the solidified lava. Occasionally, there was a wooden boardwalk because the floor was extremely uneven or because they wanted to give the visitors a good view of one of the interesting structures eg Lava Raft, Quartz fragments. There were lots of stone pillars and lava stalactites – one of them is called “Stone Turtle” which is shaped like Jeju-do Island. We continued our careful walk to the end of the tunnel approximately 2 kilometres, where there was a huge lava column that had been formed when there was another volcanic eruption and some of the lava dripped down into the Lava Tunnel that had already been formed. On our way back, we came across Sanghee, who had a torch, so we were able to follow in her footsteps using her torch to see where to best put our feet and quickly returned to the surface where the sun was shining and it was 28 degrees.
It was interesting to see the different levels and tracks that the lava had made as well as the tunnels/tube that it formed.
From there we went to see the Haenyeo (women divers) Museum dedicated to their unique methods. The Haenyeo women divers, since the 17th century, have collected shellfish and seaweed from the waters without using any diving equipment. When diving underwater, a Haenyeo carries only a pair of goggles, a round ball-like tube to keep her balance, and a basket to put her collections in.

Jeju is home to the largest number of them in Korea and the women have received a considerable amount of attention around the globe. The Haenyeo symbolises the Jeju women – with their unyielding spirit they played a leading role in boosting the Jeju economy by working all over the country and even in Japan. Some of the women are aged well into their 70s and 80s and they all work for 5 hours a day, some of the younger women going back to work 3 days after giving birth to a baby.
Jeju-do has established the Jeju Haenyeo Museum to display the unique activities and culture of Jeju-do’s Haenyeo female divers and their day-to-day lives. We were able to watch a video, which showed us how they dived and collected the shellfish etc. The women lived in thatched roof houses in a fishing village until early in the 1970s when the government built better housing for them. The Jeju Haenyeo Museum also has an observatory where we had an excellent view of the Hado-ri area.
Our next stop was at the Seongeup Folk Village at the foot of Mount Halla and we wandered around the village with properties that have been handed down from generation to generation, eg residential houses, schools, ancient government offices, stone statues, large millstones (pulled by horses or ox), fortress ruins and stone monuments. We also saw Jeongi Hyeon Gaeksa, a reconstructed building for government officials stayed when visiting.
We had a traditional Korean lunch at this lovely little village. First we were served a pancake that was more like a pizza and as it had seafood in it, Richard didn’t eat any, but as it didn’t have garlic in it, Sandy ate it and said it was delicious. There was pork that was cooked at the table on a raised electric hot plate – Richard thoroughly enjoyed it with some rice and vegies. Sandy had a separate dish as it had garlic in it – rice and vegetables with a raw egg cracked open on the top, served in an extremely hot earthenware dish – our instructions were to stir the rice, vegetables and egg together and that would cook them all. It was quite delicious.
After our lovely lunch chatting to the others at our long table, we boarded our bus again and travelled to Sangumburi Crater, an extinct volcanic crater that is home to a variety of plant life. Sangumburi has a circumference of over 2 km, and has been designated as a Natural Monument. It is located on the southeast side of Jeju-do and is a flat crater, about 650 meters wide, 100 meters deep, and 2,070 meters in circumference. Apparently, if you look at the crater from above, it looks like a man-made circular stadium. There is a variety of plant-life in the crater. On the north side, Nandaeseong vegetation such as red-thorn trees, and magnolia trees grow, along with the rare winter strawberries. On the south side of the crater, Ondaerim vegetation such as evergreens, maples, and mountain strawberry trees cover the area.
We climbed up many stairs to the top, which is 400 metres above sea level and enjoyed this interesting crater with lush green vegetation. We were surprised to see that the crater did not have rocks and also to learn that the crater does not have a lake. We were able to take our time walking back down on any of the four trails we chose, enjoying the view and taking photos.
The bus then brought us back to the port after a great day in Jeju-do and we had to go through immigration again and back along the elaborate stairs/escalators and long corridors until we reached our ship. We boarded the ship and were met by the staff to zap our I.D.card, hand us a cool towel to wash our hands and faces and another staff member to hand us a cool drink. We could get used to this type of reception when we arrive “home”.
We had a cup of tea and decided to catch up with some washing and type up our blog before heading down to the lounge for pre-dinner drinks and dinner in the dining room.

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