I kept out of the cold drizzle on Sunday morning in Samchon’s shop, staring out the window trying to will the clouds away. Several other people showed up to watch a live stream of their church’s service on the office computer. And because I had come to absolutely love Imo and Samchon, I kept quiet about our obvious religious differences when their congregation screened me with the usual questions. I patiently waited for when I’d get to spend the rest of the day riding horseback around Sangumburi Crater.
Home on the Korean range – I found out that one of the many things the people of Jeju are known for is horse mastery. The horses are small and often thought of as Mongolian with the history with Mongolian horses in Jeju going back a thousand years. When the Mongols invaded (in 1276!), the small equines crossbred with the existing small Korean horses throughout the years, giving us the fun-size horses we have today. My horse was named Him 힘 (heem) “Power” in Korean. Taller than the horse trainers, they didn’t know what to do with me when I didn’t fit the stirrups.
The only picture of me and Him that day.
Samchon gets us in to see the crater.
I need to make a post about all the funny signs of Korea.
At first I thought Samchon was just scrambling to get another sight seen before I left. While I appreciated it, I’d already climbed the monster mountain Hallasan and didn’t really feel like walking up another big hill, bowlegged and sore just ’cause.
But this place was much more special than exhibits at Hallim Park. And the sun couldn’t have come out at a better time. Korea looked so gorgeous, I didn’t recognize it. It was good to finally see the side of the country referred to as peaceful and majestic. Living in cities of up to 14 million, you don’t often have that perspective.
Korea or The American West?
I read so many blogs that said to go ahead and skip the National Monument because it was boring. But it was honestly the most beautiful place in Korea I have laid eyes on. Maybe my fellow bloggers are just too accustomed to having cafes, batting cages, photo booths and gift shops at their disposal when they visit these parks. I was surprised Jeju kept the place natural and true to the surroundings for once. This is a great place to spend your time. It took my breath away.
It was chilly and even more windy but I’m so happy Samchon took the time to bring me here.
When we left, I thought about how the only thing I really didn’t get to do in Jeju was see some of it’s wildlife, besides that octopus in Seongsan. Apparently it is good luck to encounter Roe deer on the island. So of course as soon as the thought came to me, one jumped out in front of the car. They are little things, stockier than the White Tail deer in Illinois. It hopped to the other side of the road and into the timber before we could stop to get a look. Samchon was determined to let me get a picture of one though and got out of the car…and started singing. O Mio Babbino. You know, opera.
I thought, “This is so crazy.” I guess he sensed my lack of faith because Samchon insisted that animals really do like music and that he had brought many a timid deer out from the brush by singing. I wasn’t going to join in, but Samchon was singing with such purpose now, I thought it just had to happen. How funny, an American would never do this. I tried to picture one of my redneck uncles sitting in the back, watching this. What they would think. That actually made me appreciate the weird moment more. I realized Samchon wasn’t showing off or being ridiculous. In his experience on the island (30 years) this really worked. So I stepped out of the car, stood next to him and watch the woods patiently.
Before my flight home to Cheongju, Imo took me to Hamdeok Beach just to say I’d been there. Hamdeok is the big beach in Jeju City everyone flocks to in the summertime. Look how clear the water is.
Imo and I say cheese with Hallasan wayyy in the background, behind the already barely visible shorter mountain
(It’s higher than the orange building).
Ever since the templestay, I feel happier whenever I see Buddhist monks in Korea. I like being reminded of my time with them at Geumsansa.