Olly Olly Oxen Three (and Four)

written Monday, March 6th

part 2 of 6

I swear that’s the last time I’ll make this joke…

Sunday, March 5th 

Day 3 of mine and Alena’s Jeju Olle walking adventure started with breakfast at our lodgings, also known as the Most Adorable Guesthouse in the World but with a Slightly OCD Owner. (The Slightly OCD Owner had told us, when we checked in, that we couldn’t go to sleep with make-up on because it might rub off on the pillows. Alena and I gestured at our faces and the clothes we’d been wearing for two days straight and were like “What makeup??”)

After breakfast, we took a – GASP – bus ride. Alena and I went off-trail, and rode a bus down to Manjangul Cave, which is a 7km long lava tube (4.35 miles). It was vast, cold, dark, and incredibly, incredibly cool. The sides were lined with these ridges that looked man-made, but was the result of different levels of lava flow in the formation of the tube. We learned that in addition to your standard lava stalactites (icicle-type lava rock things hanging down) and stalagmites (the opposite of stalactites, what happen when stalactites drip down and build up a sand castle or whatever) there are such things as “lava rafts,” “lava mounds,” “lava columns,” “lava balconies,” and “lava toes.”

There’s your geology lesson for the day, and here’s a picture of what I swear is the SMALLEST and SHORTEST (and best lit) part of the thing – at points it was 30m high (99~ ft).

Emerging from the end of the section open to tourists (1km to the column at the end, 1km back – so we were underground for about 40 minutes to an hour) was a strange glorious experience of feeling both the change in temperature – it was very cold down below – and seeing the light of day again.

After that, Alena and I managed to hitchhike with a nice old Korean couple back to the beach and picked up the Olle trail again. So far, I’ve learned that I can say “hello” in Korean with a good enough accent that people will think I am Korean. (They are immediately disabused of this misconception when they try to advance the conversation past “hello”. One man spent a solid 30-seconds pointing at me and repeating a phrase that Alena later guessed meant “Are you Korean?”)

Route 20 followed the coast and took inexplicable detours across rocky volcano rock. My feet, despite my best blister-lancing techniques, were very much not a fan of this. At the end of Route 20, there was a traditional market where Alena and I bought red-bean paste donut-type thing, and I bought sandals.

Day 1 ended with me and Alena taking another bus (another one! gasp!) to the beginning of Route 1 — unfortunately skipping Route 21 because it was closed due to bird flu.

end of day: 26,298 steps
casualties: RIP my relationship with my hiking boots. But hello to my new pengyous (friends) (that’s Chinese not Korean, welcome to the world of Chinglish slang) – my pink market sanders! #socksinsandals #bringingitback


Monday, March 6th

After spending the night in the Dorothy Guesthouse, aka the Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki Guesthouse (there were figurines of characters from Totoro and Sprited Away... everywhere) Alena and I set off for an easier hike – today’s agenda was just 12km until we reached a guesthouse where we holed up in preparation for tomorrow morning’s Sunrise Peak trip. (Luckily, it’s only about a 25 minute walk to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong, this “archetypal tuff cone formed by hydrovolcanic eruptions” – aka this cool circular giant rock thingy – and sunrise is at the somewhat later 6:55 AM).

We came across our first two oreum at the beginnings of today’s walk along Route 1. Google tells me an oreum is a parasitic volcano, which is a cone-shaped collection of volcanic material that is not part of the volcano… or something. Thanks, Google. Basically, they looked like giant hills and were pretty cool. Jeju, being a volcanic island, has a lot of them. 368, which is apparently super unusual. Thanks, Hallesan.


The Olle Walkers Facebook group manager, Jim, posted today with predictions for sunny weather and moderate winds. Jim has been something of a phantom hiker on our walking adventure; any time we see one of the blue wire Ganse ponies marking the trail, or when we get lost, we always call out to the pseudo-Jim. “Jim, why have you taken us down this path?” “Thank you, Jim.” “Do you think Jim would be mad if we did X?”


Alena and I were nearly blown off the top of the oreum, into the ocean, off a bridge, etc. We also saw a bunch of squid drying along the coast, and ate lunch in this gazebo with our backs pressed against this plank of plywood that helped ward off (some of) the wind. We also spent a lot of time stumbling into each other and leaning against the wind and asking, “Jim, oh god, what are more than moderate winds like?”

Luckily we had a much shorter walk today, so we were safely tucked away in our hostel by 2pm, after which I squared away a few bits of work, we napped, got dinner, and now we are back.

end of day: 24,034 steps
casualties: our understanding of the word “moderate”

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A 60-year-old cat lady disguised as a 25-year-old digital nomad.

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