Korea – Jeju Olle Trails

When I landed in Jeju, it was already pretty late. Getting myself the island map and finding an olle map, I started to head off to my new favourite place to sleep: a local jimjilbang. So before continuing, I should clarify what olle is. Olle trails are paths around that go through the whole jeju island. Made with as little environmental impact as possible, these paths take people through all the different sceneries in Jeju. So While having all my maps and info pulled out on the floor at the jimjilbang, I decided that I can probably do olle 1 and 1.1 since two of the top 50 places to see in Korea were in those two areas. Moreover, the olle map gave me a rough estimate that it would take bout 9-11hrs to complete those two areas which would be perfect for a day’s trip. After figuring out where I want to go, I had to figure out how to get there and the first step is finding out where I was on the map. After many hand movements, a local was able to give me the rough area as to where the jimjilbang was located and after hearing that I planned on doing olle 1 and 1.1, also recommended me to do olle 7, 8 and halla mountain.

So the olle map said that I would have to take a bus to the beginning of the trail and so making sure I get enough time to do the whole trip, I woke up at 7, packed up and walked to the bus terminal while buying bread for lunch snack and dinner. The bus took me to the beginning of the trail by 9 for 3000 won. There was no real problem with knowing when to get off as the stop was announced in English as well. Carrying my backpack, I stepped out of the bus and instantly knew that I would thoroughly enjoy this experience. With a nice cool breeze, a clear blue sky and a welcoming sun, I started walking the path through some farms with short fences made by stacked rocks. Shortly after, I found myself trekking a hill. The trail up the hill was not of wood or steps or anything, but rather with thick rope barely visible from a distance. Looking behind, all you would see is a sea of blue up top, lots of green with black showing property, and the coast. This is where I decided that if AIESEC’s vision of peace and fulfillment of human kind’s potential was a place, this would be it. There really isn’t much else I can say about olle 1 besides that my photography skills do not do this experience justice. But here are some of my attempts:

Using rope, rubber and big staples to make a path up steeper parts of the hill.
Jeju Olle Trail

Only rope is used on less steep areas.
Jeju Olle Trail

A veiw from the top of a hill; the actual looks much better. The orange and blue ribbons are the markers used to tell travelers they are still on the path which is important since some of the places you walk is private property and the government has worked hard to come to an agreement with the owners to let people walk through.
Jeju Olle Trail

Like I said, it takes people through all the different sceneries of Jeju.
Jeju Olle Trail

Olle 1.1 was on Udo island and unfortunately wasn’t as enjoyable. It may be a combination of me getting used to the scenery, the fact that my shoulders was starting to feel the excess weight of 10kg, or just the sheer amount of tourist on the island. I’d go with the last two with an emphasize of tourism. I was used to being the only person that I saw for olle 1, and being able to give all 5 senses through enjoyment (well not really taste) but getting to the island, the amount of people and noise didn’t make it as enjoyable. Moreover, my shoulders and legs started feeling the 3.5hr trek that happened prior to 1.1. However, that doesn’t change the fact that there were some awesome places to visit and here are some more attempts:

The hill where the lighthouse is.
Jeju Olle Trail

I wonder how many centuries went by to create those rock formations…
Jeju Olle Trail

One of the two(?) beaches on the island. It was a weekday so I guess that’s why it’s empty.
Jeju Olle Trail

The thing to remember about this island is that the last ferry back is at 6pm so getting there at 1, I wasn’t too sure how much I would be able to do. Also, olle trails have a certain mark to tell you if you’re still on track but the marks on the island were really confusing. It could be because the person didn’t use enough marks or because tourists have taken down the marks over time. Either way, besides certain areas for pictures, 1.1 could be viewed as a waste of time (relative to the other trails that I did) if you are on limited time.

After getting back to the main island, I took a bus that took me to the only other city on the southern part of jeju island, where olle 7 and 8 were located. The trek high was still with me when I got to the city and so I started to explore the city for an hour or two until I decided it was time to call it a night and find myself a jimjilbang. This jimjilbang also had water pressure massages so I took the opportunity to let my body just melt. It’s funny, until I found jimjilbang, I didn’t really care for saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, and massages, but now it’s quite the opposite.

Update

After the post went live, @jejuolletrail told me on twitter that olle trail 18 has old Jeju houses/streets, 14-1 is ancient forest, 10 has Sanbangsan. So if you are going to Jeju and are planning to do those trails, check them out and tell me how they are!

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3 responses to “Korea – Jeju Olle Trails

  1. Thank you very much for your informative English-language post! It is ALWAYS nice to see these kind of posts and also kind words about our trails. You certainly tried to fit a lot into one day with a 10kg backpack on your shoulders! Route 1-1 doesn’t have much shade from the trees either, making the walk more difficult.

    Yes, so earlier I mentioned some of the other routes worth doing. Actually while I was messaging you via our Twitter account I was out on Route 18. This one starts right in the city, but gradually moves into the countryside. The final part of the route, after Samyang and after Wondangbong, takes you through many tiny streets between traditional Jeju houses. This is real “Olle” I think. (http://www.jejuolle.org/?mid=40&act=view&cs_no=22)

    However if you don’t have much time Routes 10 and 14-1 are probably worth doing more.

    Route 10 takes in the south-west corner of the island. You see the huge Sanbangsan, Gapado, Marado, and lots of old Japanese military installations. Pretty fascinating, especially if you like history. Most of it is overgrown now, adding to the atmosphere. (http://www.jejuolle.org/?mid=40&act=view&cs_no=10)

    Route 14-1 goes through the Gotjawal Forest and our green tea fields. Yes, there are green tea fields on Jeju Island too! I would say 14-1 is the most “remote” of all the routes. (http://www.jejuolle.org/?mid=40&act=view&cs_no=20)

    By the way I wanted to let you know a couple of interesting anecdotes about our way-markers. You mention our blue and orange ribbons. The blue represents Jeju’s ocean and the orange represents the tangerines grown on the island.

    Finally, those painted arrows you see? Well, they mean “person” in hanja. It’s the same as the Chinese character.

    Anyway if you come back to Jeju in the future please let us know.

  2. Pingback: Korea – Olle Trails and Halla Mountain |·

  3. Pingback: Camping at Bruce Peninsula – Day 1 Surprises |·

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