We made our way out into the wet and windy Jeju afternoon weather, boarded our minibus and headed off to one of the Olleh trails on the north of the island. I'd heard a lot about the trails over the past few years and had built certain romantic images in my head - a beautiful solitary trail, with birds singing and crabs scurrying, with the mountains on my left and the sea on my right I would wander along marveling at nature's bounty.
What I didn't expect was a little red pavement bordering an occasionally busy road. Disappointed? Just a little... Still the view of the rocky beaches and the ocean waves was pleasant enough, as long as I didn't look on the other side at the cars, gaudy restaurants, pensions and building sites.
50% romance, 50% disappointment.
Still I did enjoy walking past Jeju's miles and miles of dry stone walls. I love a good dry stone wall. I really do. They're far nicer than brick or concrete, they blend in with the landscape and they remind me of walking through some parts of the English countryside (as do the thatched cottages on Jeju). It was also good to hear from our tour guide that it's not just the elderly keeping the traditions alive, that young islanders are also learning the dry stone wall craft enabling this elegant segregation solution to survive.
And we saw a dead snake.
As we walked along the trail we kept seeing these two little cartoon characters. A stone grandfather and a diver - who looked like she'd stepped straight out of a Miyazaki cartoon. Very cute. I've been assured that there are prettier trails than the one we walked on, but I have to say I was a touch disappointed by our Olleh experience. As the wind blew harder and the rain pitter pattered on our heads, we decided to head somewhere warmer and drier on the south side of the island...
In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by Korea.net and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. Next up - Elvis lives!