Tales from the Jeju Olle Trail Trail: Bringing Christmas Santa cheer to Olle at the end of 2014

Santa took time out of his busy schedule to walk Jeju Olle Trail at the end of 2014.

It’s a tradition that started last year with long-term Olle volunteer and now office staff member Hong In-hoo.

Basically a group of us get together, dress up in festive outfits, choose an Olle route, and spend the day walking that route giving out presents (socks, chocolate). We then pose for pictures with whoever we meet along the way.

In 2013 I was able to assist Santa on the southern coastal Route 8 as he weaved his way through Jungmun Beach and Resort (see below).

This time around on December 21, 2014 we took to Route 21 on the completely opposite north-eastern side.

Wonderfully enough the Santa outfit we have also fit my larger frame.

The biggest difficulty about the day over the 10.1km was the weather. It was indeed wintry while walking.

Snow and sleet hammered down as the volunteer group made their way through the volcanic stone wall fields of Hado-ri.

It let up for a bit next to the ocean long enough for Santa to stroll on a snow-covered beach.

Approaching Jimi-bong inclement weather returned so we abandoned the summit route and instead opted for the detour route around the base.

We all managed to meet a couple of brave Olle walkers on the day that were given small chocolate gifts, and waved to a lot of tourists and locals passing by in their vehicles.

It’s also an event that we’re going to try and keep going every year. So if you’re reading this in the weeks before Christmas please send a message. Maybe you can come and help us out.

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[Monthly Event Reports] ‘Clean Olle’ | Route 4 | April 2014

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‘Clean Olle’ went ahead last Saturday on Jeju Olle Trail Route 4. The rain managed to hold off as volunteers walked to the route mid-point collecting trash along the way. Below is a full gallery of photographs from the day.

* Photos are by Jim Saunders unless otherwise noted

 

 

[Jeju Olle Trail Event Explained] Clear up the trash on Jeju Olle Trail once a month with the ‘Clean Olle’ volunteer group

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I didn’t know so much work went into maintaining the Jeju Olle routes until now.

Really, I didn’t.

Previously I was a walker who enjoyed the routes purely from the walking side. I would arrive at a route starting point in the morning and wander along almost care-free for the day. I would follow the ribbons and arrows through the gorgeous Jeju countryside feeling the stress of the working week drain away.

Good memories were created. It was always so simple.

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However, to enable me to have such days, groups of volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep everything functioning so people like you and me can just turn up and walk.

One of these groups comes together under the ‘Clean Olle’ banner. It is a group assembled once a month with trash grabbers and trash bags in hands to keep a selected route tidy.

On Mar. 9 2013, 32 volunteers arrived in Jeoji on the west side of the island for a 10 o’clock start at Route 14.

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From Jeoji to Hyeopjae the type of trash changed markedly throughout the day. It started at the entrances to farmers fields with piles of bottles, rope, and bits lying about which had to be dealt with carefully. In the forest near benches and natural rest stops, orange peel, sweet wrappers, cigarette butts, and bottled water were discarded.

Prior to lunch we had coped quite well as a group. However, after a hearty bowl of sea urchin and cactus noodle guk-su, the situation changed in Weolreong.

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The coastal area was carpeted in trash. We tried our best, but simply put, there was too much for us with the type of equipment we had. Therefore we tried to focus on specific, small, areas. We found slippers, so much glass, and polystyrene. Then when you looked up and moved on a little bit you realized how much there still was to clean.

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One of the other foreigners who joined the event for the day and was certainly looking at this issue more closely was an American high school teacher, Jessica Carrier. Now working at an international school on the island she is, as part of a master’s program, researching the trash found on Olle routes.

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“I’m going to be putting together this information with the other information I’ve collected from the other trails to look at what areas seem to be affected by unavoidable causes versus what areas seem to be affected by simple litter or trash that is left behind from tourists,” she explained.

“I want to map it out on Google Earth… to analyze the data and see if there are any commonalities between the type of trash being found and where on the trails is it being found,” she said.

What also strikes about the day is the work other volunteers do to help the volunteers collecting the trash. At certain points along the route one dedicated volunteer would arrive with their car to take away full bags and provide new ones. The leaders of Olle routes 5 and 7-1 were on hand to add ribbons to trees making sure the trail as adequately marked.

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Leading everyone was Oh Soon-deok, an early graduate from Jeju Olle’s academy. She said the clean up days began in February 2010 after a group of graduates came up with the idea.

“At first we started with 10 liter bags, then 20 liter bags, and now just before Route 14 we used 50 liter bags and sacks,” she explained.

She also said all types of people come out for the day- from students, to teachers, to housewives, and people from the mainland. Even Olle founder, Suh Myung-sook, chips in. This, however, is the first time foreigners have participated.

“I recommend everyone to experience this event and feel it,” Oh explained. “The reason we’re doing this is to not only clean the Olle route, but we want to do something with meaning and valuable. Then we can have a good feeling… you can hardly wait for the next ‘Clean Olle’,” said Oh.

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* This story has been updated and edited. It originally appeared on the Jeju-based Internet news web site Jnuri (http://www.jnuri.net/news/articleView.html?idxno=11667) | By Jim Saunders

[Jeju Olle Trail Volunteering] Jeju OIle’s Young Supporters (Belegi Ganse) promoting the 2013 Jeju Olle Walking Festival at the 52nd Tamna Culture Festival

The Jeju Olle Young Supporters group were out to help out with the 52nd Tamna Culture Festival in the Tapdong area of Jeju City. It is a five day festival showcasing the old ways of Jeju living. It is finishing up as I write this blog post.

I was able to help out on the Thursday morning because it was a national holiday in Korea. We were there to promote Jeju Olle Trail and our own upcoming festival later this month. Volunteers began to arrive at the booth for 10 a.m. and set up in as people began to trickle in.

I’ll explain more about the Young Supporters (or Belegi Ganse as they are known in Korean) another time. We spent a lot of the day giving out leaflets and chatting to people. I particularly enjoyed getting a chance to speak with foreign attendees.

Anyway here are a few photographs from my volunteer experience. Props to the rest of the crew who manned the booth on Saturday and Sunday. As I spent quite a portion of Sunday translating next week’s Facebook page posts into English I wasn’t able to go down again.

I also link a media video about the festival to give readers a feel for the place and a local news outlet story from the opening night. It is in Korean, but there are photographs.