Halla mountain

This trek happened thanx to the conference our group organised in Jeju, which is where the Halla mountain stands. Its ~2000 meters high and is a volacano (a dead one) which formed the island Jeju. This and further information can be found in a number of sites and also in wiki.

I took an Eastar flight to Jeju from Gimpo airport in the evening after office (~6.20 p.m). The journey lasted an hour.  Took the airport limousine (no. 600) which goes around Jeju to Shilla Hotel. Thanx to the conference i could stay in this expensive hotel at a discount. The next morning at 6:30 a.m. i took a taxi from Shilla Hotel to the bus-stop (don’t remember the name) from where buses leave for the Seongpanak trail.  There are four trails of which two lead to the peak the other one being Gwaneumsa. The Seongpanak trails is the longest.

The trail is well paved with wooden steps and coarse rocks laid all along. Walking on the pieces of volcanic rock becomes tiresome after a time. However, the rocks help keeping the trail from getting muddy. This became clear to me on the way down when i took the Gwaneumsa route.  Remember it rains here very  often.

There are two shelters on the way. One mid way and 3/4th of the way. Toilets are available in both the shelters, but food(noodles) and drinks (soda and coffee) only in the second one. I had got my own noodles (the indian maggi), i just needed the hot water, which the shelter-guy gladly offered. The second shelter also uses solar power. There were huge solar panels on its side. On the way down (the Gwaneumsa route) there is a shelter under construction but toilets are available in two places, roughly 1/4th and 3/4th of the way.

Koreans are eager trekkers and you will always find large numbers of them on any mountain trail. Its amazing and makes the journey less tiring especially when you see very old women walking by you. At one point, i was in a queue!

Most of the way you wouldn’t see the peak or for that matter anything at a distance. Trees are all around you and very often thick grass (of a particular kind, which has leaves like that of the bamboo). No wild animals. No crawling things (when i did see one i took a picture). Not many birds either. I only heard the crow. At the peak, where most Korean unpack their lunch (the nth time) there are many crows waiting for food. Closer to the stating point i did here some other birds chirping (2-3 different types).

The weather was pleasant. I had come prepared for cold (~5C) but had to do away with my jacket. It must have been cold because half way up i did see large chunks of ice. And on the way down the Gwaneumsa route there were even larger chunks of ice which covered parts of the trail.  The valley too has very little flowing water. You can see frozen would-be-waterfalls on the way down .

I was at the peak way at ~ 11: 30 a.m. ( i had started the journey at 7:40 a.m.) The peak is like a large bowl. From where we stand the water body looks like a pond; most of the bowl is empty. There is a barricade which allows us to go only so far. There is not much place to sit, given the fact that there are so many Koreans already there enjoying their lunch.

The way down the Gwaneumsa route is not as organised as the Seongpanak route. At places it is muddy. If this is the situation in April one can imagine when rain sets in June.  Its 8.6 kms to Gwaneumsa and the way up from Seongpanak is 9.4 kms.

On reaching Gwaneumsa base i did not find any temple (any name ending with ‘sa’ in korean indicates a temple). Its actually 500 meters away along the highway. There is a hotel at the base where i had ice cream and orange juice. Non-vegetarians can enjoy korean food here.

The walk up to the temple was a bit odd because one has to walk along the highway (no pavement). The sign board for the temple can be found only when one comes close to the temple. You wouldn’t find anyone walking along. The temple is up a hill. The atmosphere is very very peaceful. A giant Buddha statue can be seen from the entrance. I sat for a while in the main shrine. Sitting with folded legs (vajrasana) is a great relief to the legs. There is a store in the temple complex which sells books(korean), statues and other items. A small pond near the store is very appealing and i sat by the pond for almost 30 minutes. There are colorful fish in the pond. There was a surprise in store for me.  The temple complex is very large and green and it also has deer. Yes, deer, a black one. I guess there were two one with horns and one without. One of them was fearless;  it came very close to me. I took  a picture.

I then walked back to the base site. The store owner’s son spoke english; i was delighted. He was kind enough to inform me that the taxi charge was 15k won to go to the bus stop (to take the bus to the airport) or to the airport. The fare was 15000 won.  There were many taxis waiting just opposite the store.

The airport is 20-30 minutes drive from the base.  I was at the ticket counter of Eastar at 6 :30 p.m.  My flight time (e-ticket) was at 9:20. I asked the Eastar guy if i could travel earlier. The cheerful and proactive Eastar guy could get me the ticket in 7:45 p.m. flight and also some money (20k won) back. This flight was cheaper. I was delighted.

I was back in Gimpo by 8:45 p.m and back home (thanx to the air-limousine) at 10 p.m.

What a wonderful tour it was!

One Response to “Halla mountain”

  1. Topics about Vegetarians | Halla mountain Says:

    […] musings created an interesting post today on Halla mountainHere’s a short outlineThis trek happened thanx to the conference our group organised in Jeju, which is where the Halla mountain stands. Its ~2000 meters high and is a volacano (a dead one) which formed the island Jeju. This and further information can be found in a number of sites and also in wiki . I took an Eastar flight to Jeju from Gimpo airport in the evening after office (~6.20 p.m). The journey lasted an hour.  Took the airport limousine (no. 600) which goes around Jeju to Shilla Hotel. Thanx to the confere […]

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