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Jeju Olle Trail, Route 10-1 – Gapado Island, South Korea

Starting Jeju Olle Route 10-1

Jim – Starting Jeju Olle Route 10-1

There is no denying that luck has been on my side on this trip.  I was lucky today to meet Jim Saunders.  His official title is:  English-speaking Social Media Volunteer for the Jeju Olle Trail.  Today he was my friend. He found me on Twitter and offered to walk a route of the Olle Trail with me.  I happily accepted the offer.

About Jim – English Speaking Volunteer for the Jeju Olle Trail

Jim is from England and originally came to Jeju as an English teacher.  He has since married a Korean woman and together they run an academy for kids.  I was surprised to learn that most kids in Korea go to school all day and then attend academies in various subjects almost every weekday until 9 pm at night.  Then they go home and complete homework.  Little time for getting into trouble in the Korean educational system!

But back to Jim.  He’s walked every route of the Olle Trail at least once and has been a volunteer since early 2013.  This was his first time meeting a walker from overseas and walking with them.  Apparently, I am also the first person he’s met that has come from the United States to walk the Jeju Olle Trail.

If you need help with navigating the Olle Trail or getting more information in English, Jim is your guy.  He can be reached on Twitter with the hashtag “#JejuOlle” or by writing on the Jeju Olle Facebook page.  Or, if you would like his personal email, please contact me and I will provide it.

How to get to Route 10-1 of the Jeju Olle Trail

We walked a lesser known Route which is not on Jeju Island, but on Gapado Island.  This required taking a 15-minute ferry ride from Moseulpo Harbor (모슬포항) which is on the south side of Jeju Island.  The first ferry leaves at 9 am, but other times are available.  If you plan to go, bring your passport which is needed when taking the ferry.  The cost is 10,000 won for a roundtrip adult ticket. The ride was somewhat nauseating and we were both glad to get to our destination!

Jeju Olle Trail 10-1

Jim taught me that the stone walls are purposely built with holes in them so they can hold up to the strong winds on Gapado Island.

Gapado Island

Gapado Island is the second southernmost island in South Korea with a population of 281 people, mostly fishermen and their families.  It is also the world’s first carbon-free island, having switched from diesel power to renewable energy created on the island.  Except for the tractors that were doing roadwork there are only electric vehicles.  And all power lines have been moved underground making for a more scenic island.  Route 10-1 of the Olle Route opened in 2010 and it is only 5 kilometers making it the perfect route for a short easy day and maybe a picnic.

The walk was flat throughout and meandered about the island alongside the sea and through barley fields.  It could have been completed in an hour but we lollygagged and took rests from the hot sun.  I took the opportunity to make some suggestions for improving the usability of the Olle Trail for English-speaking foreigners.  I would never expect English signage  in a foreign country but the trail is being promoted online as an international destination and as it is now it is very challenging to navigate if you don’t know some Korean.  I hope he wasn’t offended but I really want this to be easier for the next English speaker that desires to walk this beautiful trail.

We caught the ferry back at 2 pm and Jim was nice enough to take me to a popular restaurant that serves cold noodles.  On such a hot day, the wait was long, but it was worth it.  Delicious.

I was so grateful to Jim for offering his time and knowledge freely.  Should you be inclined to walk the Olle Trail, he is a wealth of information as well as an all-around nice guy.  Thanks Jim!

Pictures of the Day:

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