Thursday, September 8, 2016

Part 2 of Our Day on Jeju Island. Dolharbang Park and Hamdeok Beach.

Dolharbang Park.

Considered to be a main symbol of Jeju Island, Dol Hareubang, literally meaning "Old Grandfather" stone statues, can be found everywhere on the island although I only caught sight of them once before we when to Dolharbang Park.  Their name is made from the Korean word for stone, dol, and the Jeju dialect word for grandfather or senior, hareubang.

Dol Hareubang are shamanistic statues that are believed to be offer protection and ward off demons and that what is now considered a symbol of Jeju was first started by Kim Mong-gyu, then Magistrate of Jeju in 1754 during the reign of King Yeongjo.

Dol Hareubang are carved from porous basalt and typically stand up to 3 meters in height.  They always have two hands placed in front of the chest or stomach.  They have bulging eyes and are always beardless and have closed mouths.  To complete the look, they wear a mushroom shaped hat.  They are typically presented in pairs.

For more info on Dol Hareubang, check out this page.

Drove by this pair.

From Manjanggul Lava Tube, we drove to the park. It was oddly located if you ask me.  I felt like we were driving through the middle of farmland when we came across a small building and then a sign with the park's name printed on it. It was hard to believe that this was a popular tourist attraction if not for the fact that it did have a decent sized parking lot which could at least hold a couple of large tour buses.


George parked the car and we entered the only structure nearby.  It cost us 4,000 won each to enter the park. 


The park pretty much sits inside a forest and a path takes you around to see the various stone sculptures.  I was expecting to see and more importantly, to learn more about this unique symbol of Jeju but as it turned out, Dolharbang Park is really more of an artists park than one wholly dedicated to Dol Hareubang. 



Naturally, I had to pose for a photo with one of the stone photographers :-)


We took the path.  Unfortunately, there were no plaques to tell us either the name of the piece or the artist who carved it. With the exception of a piece or two that warranted more than a 1 second stare, we pretty much walked non-stop through the park.






I find Dol Hareubang to be really folksy and charming.  Sadly, we didn't see all that many of them in Dolharbang Park.  The park is okay but not really worth the money to go there.  Better to just see Dol Hareubang elsewhere on the island.

We still had time to go to another place but we had no idea where to go.  So, I thought maybe it would be nice to see water.  We are on an island after all.  As George drove along the main road that would take us back to the city from Dolharbang Park, I kept an eye on Ms. Kimch's display.  I literally just told George to turn off at a point that looked like it would take us seaside.  That's how we ended up in Hamdeok Beach in the town of Jocheon :-)

George drove til we saw sand and then he parked the car. We walk the short distance to the beach.  It was a very small beach. There were plenty of people on the sand but this being Korea, there were few sunbathers.  Asians don't typically lie in the sun.  Nary was there a bikini in sight as well.  Very modest people.


There was a walk that lead out into the water.  We strolled past the beachgoers to get to it.  From there, we could take in views of the water and the scenery surrounding the beach.  It's really nice spot here. No wonder there were so many people on the beach.



The water is fairly shallow.  Lots of seaweed drifting over the white sand.


On the other hand, the volcanic rocks are not very comfortable to walk over.  I was tempted to clamor over them to get down to the water but they were so rough as coarse sand paper to the feel, I was afraid of what would happen to my skin should I slip even just a wee bit.


We had parked the car near a small row of restaurants.  Our last meal was breakfast and well, while it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, I decided I needed to eat something.

Koreans have taken bagels to a whole another planet with dough and filling flavors no NYC bagel maker would recognize!

George always leaves it up to me to pick a place and since we're on an island, I decided we needed seafood.  Jeju is known for its abalone and one of the island's food specialties is abalone porridge.  I was not about to leave the island without having a bowl.  I also ordered a seafood hotpot.  Figured it would have something we could enjoy and maybe somethings not.

We nibbled on the banchan while waiting for our main order to arrive.  I'm telling you, the banchan is sometimes better than the entree!


Our hot dishes came at the same time.  The abalone porridge looked like a pot of mess but oh my God, the best thing I've eaten on this trip so far.  The broth was so flavorful, the rice cooked to the right degree of mushiness and the abalone, of which there was quite a generous amount of, was just chewy enough to have bite but no so much that your jaw would hurt chomping on it.  We polished every bit of the bowl.


The seafood hotpot was a melange of seafood served in a very hot ceramic pot. There was fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, a small abalone along with some enoki mushrooms and scallions.  There was also a very special item, a delicacy I'm sure.


That very special item was a large sea snail.  At first, we couldn't get to the meat because the opening was covered up.  I had to look up the correct word for the cover thing - operculum.  Had I had a fork, I could've easily pried it off but all I had was the chopstick.  George dared me to do it.  If I was successful, he would take a bit.  Well that was all the motive I needed.   It took quite a few tries but eventually, I got the cover off.  Ha!


It took some effort to pull out the meat and what we saw did not look appetizing at all.  No....neither of us wanted to eat thing but we had committed to trying it.

I have no idea which part you're suppose to eat but we both took small nibbles of the thing. Maybe I bit into the wrong part, but it wasn't tasty.  Maybe we weren't suppose to eat it all.  Maybe it's just for flavoring?  Okay, who am I kidding. Koreans are Asian.  They would never catch something that they would not eat.


Of course, count on figuring something after the fact.  I found this video on YouTube that shows exactly how to dissect up the meat and which portion is the edible part.  It actually doesn't look that bad once you cut off all the icky parts.


After our meal, we headed back the hotel to relax before heading back out for dinner.