Sunday, August 16, 2015

a brief island tour

This past weekend was the last weekend before the students arrive.  Students arrive in residence Monday throughout the day.  Some will be dropped off by parents while others will fly in to the airport on their own and then picked up by a team of dons.  It'll be a crazy-busy day, that's for sure.  But that's tomorrow.

As our last weekend before the craziness starts, the school organized an optional tour of some of the island sites.  A number of us new staff opted in for a full, but awesome day.

We left the school at 930.  Our first stop was the Manjanggul Lava Tube (만장굴).  The tube is one of the largest lava tubes in the world and is 7.4 long.  Roughly 1 km of the tube is open to the public.  Currently the weather is really hot on the island with 25°C being the night time low, but when you descend into the lava tube, temperatures drop down to 11-13°.  I'd never been in a lava tube before and it was really cool to see how the molten rock had shaped the walls and ceiling.  A truly awe-inspiring site.
A bunch of us Teacher Dons chilling in the Tube.  We we all felt the need to hunch over, we don't really know.  Photo by random tourist.
The section of the tube open to the public ended in this lovely rock formation.
From the tube we stopped at a nearby beach for lunch and a little swimming before continuing on to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산 일출봉).  
At the base of the "Peak."
I really wanted to reach the top while we were there, but we were in a bit of a time crunch.  Our bus arrived at the Peak at 1415 and had to leave to head back to the school at 1600. We were told it would take between 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top and back down, which gave us plenty of time... except that at 1500 there was a presentation by the Haenyeo (해녀, meaning sea women).  We definitely did not want to miss that. Still wanting to climb, my friend Yeareen and I booked it off the bus and basically raced to the top.  While not as hard as the Incline in Colorado, we were gasping for breath and incredibly sweaty by the time we reach the top in ~15 min.  It was so worth it:

View looking out over the small town.
A friend and I standing proudly, and very sweatily, at the top. Photo by random Korean.
So happy to have made it!
View back down the stairs.
We made it back down with time to spare as we headed for the Haenyeo cove.
The cove where the Haenyeo women gave their little performance.
The Haenyeo worked at this restaurant and out from they're were tanks keeping their catch fresh.
Display of sea-things caught by Haenyeo.  I touched them. Some were moving.
At three, a group appeared fully dressed in their gear and headed into the water.  After 15 or so minutes, one re-emerged with a small octopus. The others came out shortly after.
Haenyeo women.  There are only about 100 left.  The oldest is ~83 and the youngest ~54.  It is a dying occupation.
I opted for a picture with one of these amazing women.
All in all, it was a great day.  Very full and busy, but so worth it and so much fun.  I can't wait to see where we'll go next!

Love and hugs.

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