We took a taxi to a great place about 20 minutes from our hotel this morning. Our destitnation was the Sanbangul Temple at the base of Sangban Mountain, a basalt formation rising 395 meters from the seashore. The temple was created at a sacred cave where a statue of Buddha sits looking out to the southermost point of Jejudo Island where the Yellow Sea to the west meets the East China Sea to the south. The hike to the cave is up at least 400 steps and there are great views along the way and some signs of danger rock falling zones where now steel netting is postioned overhead for safety.
Jejudo legend tells of a hunter in ages past going out with his bow and arrow to the mountain forrest and accidentally shooting a mountain spirit in the buttocks (no relation to Forrest Gump). The mountain spirit took offense and ripped off a piece of Mount Halla and threw it at the fleeing hunter. The rock became Sangban Mountain and perhaps the hunter was flattened below or found a cave to hide in. We didn’t find any sign of him so we made our way back down the 400 steps and went over to a reconstructed stone fortified beacon that was built to send warning signals of the approach of enemy ships approaching. From there we had a good view of Hwasun Beach and then descended a staircase to the the Hendrick Hamel Monument before continuing down to the foot of the Dragon Head Promontory where the Hamel Museum is located in a reconstructed Dutch ship. The museum commemorates the arrival of some the first Europeans to Korea who were shipwrecked on the Jejudo coast in 1653. The Dutch ship Sperwer was on its way from Taiwan to Nagasaki Japan when a storm blew it to the Korean island and it wrecked with 36 survivors. Held captive for 13 years some eventually escaped to Japan and the ship’s secretary Hendrick Hamel wrote the first western book about Korea. So this is the place that it all started as far as Korea’s contact with westerners and the beginning of European knowledge about Korea. I am calling it a great day for this maritime history buff.
Now we need some chow. A gift shop operator named Yoon Sang Jun speaks some English having studied in Vancouver B.C. and in spite of his Canadian accent we learn that a good place to eat is the Sun Chien Min Hang on the second floor of the building and overlooking the Dutch replica ship and Hamel Museum. Yoon Sang Jun’s tip was a good one and our lunch was a great feast for a great price. It is Children’s Day today in Korea and the museum and temple are now filling up with kids on tours. We are happy that we got an early start on the day and beat the rush for hiking the trails and now it was time for us to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and go take a siesta about 2:30 pm.
Oh, that siesta was great but how can you blog further after a great day when there is some Hite Beer in the fridge.