Jeju’s Wild Southwest Corner

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March 14, 2019, Sogwip’o, Jeju-

When I was getting ready to leave Jeju-do, in 1992, one of a series of exit interviews was a visit with the then-mayor of Sogwip’o, southern Jeju’s commercial center and the present governmental unit for all of Jeju, south of Halla-san.  He asked me whether Sogwip’o had a bright future and whether I would promote the area, once in the United States.

At the time, all I could do, promotion-wise, was talk the area up, among friends and acquaintances. I did, however, see that it had a bright future.  Time has borne this out.  Sogwip’o’s population has climbed to over 100,000 residents, including a fair number of condominium owners from China ( as is also the case with Jeju-shi) -enticed by the favourable China policy of the island province’s government.

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Nonetheless, I found the sections of Sogwip’o that we visited are still quite blessed by natural beauty, though the whole development of the coast  has resulted in a drop in the water table, and some drying up of the area’s waterfalls, as was evident when we went to Jeongjeyon.

Our first stop, though, was a coastal beach in the village of Jeungmun, which is the site of a Hyatt Regency Hotel.  This was a place we visited on occasion, when we lived here, as Penny and I knew the General Manager of the hotel.  It is also the site of a meeting between then- South Korean President Roh Tae-woo and then- Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1991.

One of my favourite natural spots in Jeju is adjacent to the Hyatt:  Jusangjeoli.  It is a segment of volcanic beach, which we once accessed from the Hyatt’s own beach.  So, the three of us went down to the beach, from a fairly new area, highlighting Jeju’s citrus industry, which is one of the island’s economic staples-along with tourism.

Here are some of the scenes we encountered.

This large conch mock-up draws attention to Jeju’s equally important marine products industry- offering a plenitude of fish, shellfish and kelp.

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The main draw for tourists, though, is the lava-strewn beach.  As with Songsan, a wide variety of shapes may be discerned, on Jusangjeoli’s paths.

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The dragon countenance is found in many areas of Jeju.

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These slats are not a mock-up of a luxury development.  Wind and water shaped them, over the centuries.

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The likenesses at the head of this formation are not a pair  I’d want to meet in a dark alley.

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Jeju’s sheerest cliffs are found here at Jusangjeoli.

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This Peace Park, between Jusangjeoli and the Hyatt, is a place for both quiet reflection and the romping of spirited children, who like to hopscotch and play tag, around the surrounding zodiac stones.

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As this had been a very full day, already, we chose one of Seogwipo’s three waterfalls to visit.  Jeongjeyon is further west and north of the other two (Jeongjiyon and Jeongbang).  Its namesake waterfall has dried up, as a consequence of condominium development- something of an issue now, between locals and Chinese immigrants, who favour such development as a way to invest their income.

Nonetheless, Jeongjeyon has a continuing aesthetic appeal.  There is no dam here, just a lack of running water, at this site of the first cataract.

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The second cataract proved the most active of the three.

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Here are some stairs to nowhere, in particular.

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Despite the shortage of running water, Jeongjeyon’s flora is thick and prolific.

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The second cataract also seemed to be a bit on the mild side, in terms of flow.

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Visitors drop coins into the third cataract’s pool, as a means of making a wish.

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This is Seonimgyo, or Seven Nymphs Bridge, which connects Jeongjeyon Falls with the Jeungmyun Tourist Complex.  It depicts the seven nymphs, of legend, who descended from Heaven, at night.

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The third cataract had more water, and also required the most stair climbing.

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We were quite worn-out, by this point,  So, after a delicious seafood meal, we headed for our lodging.

 

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Ga San Ho Bang is a dormitory-style hotel, offering yurt-style rooms, with male and female shared bathrooms. I was well-rested, after a night in this cone-shaped room.  It had ondol, or water-heated floor pipes, so the room was especially cozy.

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NEXT:  Hallim Park- Caves, Botanic Gardens and An Army of Stone Guardians

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeju, Part 1: The Stone Dream of Mr. Paek

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March 13, 2019, Jeju, South Korea-

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There are new discoveries, in this life, constantly-and there are re-discoveries.  Today, the three of us headed down to Jeju, a burgeoning resort island, off Korea’s southwest coast.  From 1986-92, Penny and I were part of Jeju, serving as Visiting Professors of English, in two departments of Cheju National University.  Aram became part of the community, in 1988, being one of two American children born on the island, up to that point.

During that time, Mr. Paek Un-cheol, a spiritual gem of a man, was waging a small but concerted effort to preserve Jeju’s unique traditional culture.  He found an amazing variety of figures, made naturally by water and wind, among the volcanic rocks and driftwood that dotted various points along the island’s shores and on the mountain slopes of its interior.

His first effort, Tamna Mokseokwon, was a constant haven for us to visit and regain a natural semblance of order and serenity.  With his mother’s passing, and with development in the name of tourism becoming a growing threat to Jeju’s traditional culture, Mr. Paek found an ally in the same officials who were a driving force in that very tourism development, the Board of Supervisors of North Jeju County, the area comprising the northern half of the island outside Jeju City proper.  Jeju-shi, as it is known in Korean, has since subsumed the county, with Seogwip’o-shi (So-gi-PO) having subsumed the southern half of the island.

In 1999, the two sides found common ground in establishing Jeju Stone Park, and in 2005, the new park opened to the public.  We took in the eastern part of the park, and its museum, in the two hours we had.  Another visit, or two, looms in the future.  In this post, I will share those scenes captured, before my hard-working camera’s battery ran low.  In a second post, scenes captured by my son’s camera will be featured.

So, here are seventeen scenes to be found at Jeju Stone Park, a place that could easily enchant me for a full day, at minimum.

We found ourselves among the few remaining visitors, as this was a cold, brisk afternoon.

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These arrangements leave much to the imagination.  What do you suppose this rock resembles?

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Here are some traditional Jeju thatched roof houses.  One may stay in such a home, for W40,000 per night.

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Here, I envisioned a standing bear and a pair of witches.

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These nineteen steps commemorate Mr. Paek’s agreement with the County Board of Supervisors, in 1999.

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These are some of the figures I recognize from Tamna Mokseokwon.

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The legend of Grandmother Seolmundae is the impetus for the preservation of Jeju’s stone heritage.

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Here are more figures, transported from Mokseokwon.

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My precious ones are captivated.

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These stone “wishing towers” are meant to honour the spirits that are said to inhabit the countryside of Jeju.

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Perhaps this is a likeness of such a spirit.

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Mr. Paek and a team of engineers created Sky Pond, to set the mood for a visit to the Park’s museum, and to honour the element of water.

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The museum itself contains many examples of both stone and tree root art.  This is stone depiction of the island of Jeju and its tributary isles.

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Reach out to the stones, but do not touch!

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Perhaps this bird is wanting freedom from its tether.

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I see duck, or perhaps a platypus.

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Here might stand a  Hadrosaur, or horn-billed dinosaur.

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In the next post, my son’s new camera will provide more magic, both in the museum and beyond.  What he found has convinced me to return to Jeju Stone Park, most likely during my envisioned lengthy travels, a few years hence. Then, I will wish to stay in one of those traditional Jeju houses.

 

 

Quantum Leaps and Recovery

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March 9, 2019, Gyeom-myon, South Korea-

Friday, March 8, 2019 was the day that barely happened, in my world.  I crossed the International Date Line, right at Midnight, thus throwing me into- today.  We landed at  Seoul Incheon International Airport, about eight hours later.  Amazingly, I got a blessed seven hours of sleep , whilst on board the flying city that is a trans-oceanic flight.

The short hop to Busan, from Incheon, ended on a disconcerting note:  My checked luggage had been detained there, for some sort of “further inspection”.  I was assured that nothing was found amiss, and that the bags would be delivered to Aram’s in-laws’ address, which is where we will be staying, during and immediately after tomorrow’s wedding.

With that, I finished clearing Customs, at Gimhae International Airport, then joined Aram and Yunhee to head to their apartment in the Marine City section of the large port, South Korea’s second largest city.  I took a brief rest, and after catching up on the past several months, we sat down and planned the itinerary for the next several days.  I also caught up on life in the U.S., and learned, to my dismay, that my last surviving maternal uncle had passed away, not long before my flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles had departed.  I will miss his stories and the twinkle that was always in his eyes.

 

We set out for the lovely country home of Yunhee’s parents, arriving around 4 p.m.  The brief rest stop at Saman yielded these first photos of the Korean countryside.  This highway rest stop has many of the amenities associated with similar concourses in North America and  in Europe.  It also has a small exercise area, with rudimentary simple machines, for limbering.  The bridge connects nearby housing areas with the Rest Area, so that locals can walk and enjoy the shops and restaurants.  The covered shrine-like buildings are for people to enjoy picnic lunches or to just sit and meditate.

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Korea has changed much, since we last lived here as a family, in 1992.  I look forward to re-visiting some of the areas we treasured, and to see a few new places, as well.  Tomorrow, my beloved son and daughter-in-law will sanctify their civil marriage.  Stay tuned!

The Blessings Outweigh….

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March 2-5, 2019-

This past weekend brought the beginning of our Nineteen-Day Fast, abstaining from food and beverages between sunrise and sunset, March 2-20 (most years), for those in good health between the ages of 15-70.  This year’s Fast is a bit complex for me, due to travel that will interrupt the practice (Baha’u’llah excuses the traveler; women who are pregnant, nursing, or in their courses;  the seriously ill and those engaged in heavy physical work).

I made good use of the weekend, participating in a seed education program, with one of the community groups in which I’m involved:  Slow Food-Prescott.  I am no expert on seeds, but I can still help with set-up and breakdown of the hall.  I also re-learned a lot about plants- seeds, as opposed to spores, and the various aspects of germination.

Sunday brought me back to Phoenix, for a large music festival:  McDowell Mountain Music Festival, ironically not held in Scottsdale, but in downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park. Two Drum Circles and time with a vibrant and highly artistic friend made the whole event worth the drive.

There was a most diverse group sitting in on the drum circles.20190303_152300

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This English band, Maribou State, was giving the last performance of its current tour.  It was their first visit to Phoenix.

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My friend was very busy with hoop dancing, and had been at it for three days straight.

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I headed back to Prescott in a prudent manner, and have had a good couple of days at work, this week.  Today marked the eighth anniversary of Penny’s passing.  I stopped at the gravesite on Sunday, prior to attending the Music Festival.  I was thus able to properly mark our connection, with a vase of white carnations, which were her favourite flower, and time in quiet reflection.  She loved drumming and had great respect for hoop dancers, so my participation in the former and encouraging Pam and some young women in the latter, was an homage as well.

Most important, though, I have continued with two of our shared passions:  Educating special needs children and advocating wellness.  I have, if all goes well, two years after this, in full time education.  Wellness, though, will be part of my life until it’s time to head beyond.  Essential oils and living a healthy lifestyle are the foundation of my thriving.

In a few short days, I head to South Korea, for the formal wedding of Aram and Yunhee, a return to Jeju and renewing my ties to one of our blessed homes together.  The blessings always outweigh any hardships.

Nineteen

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March 2, 2019- 

I began my penultimate physical Fast today.  Once I reach the age of seventy, in November of next year,  abstinence from food and drink no longer is binding, and the Fast will bring additional spiritual duties.

For this year, though, I am following the course prescribed by Baha’u’llah:  When not traveling or engaged in arduous physical labour, I abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, from today through March 20.  Travel to and from Korea, in a few short days, will truncate the physical aspect of the Fast, with the spiritual duties remaining in place.

I have nineteen thoughts I wish to share:

  1. As stated yesterday, all life is sacred.
  2.  Those who, for whatever reason, don’t view their lives, or those of others, as sacred are to be embraced in their suffering-and not condemned, though they must be held to account for acts of violence.
  3. If someone takes me to task, even harshly, and I know that one is right, I need to be the change.
  4. No one has the individual right to strike another person, unless one is responsible for that other person’s well being, as a parent or guardian-and even then, the reason for the spanking is understood by the other and it is only used as a last resort.
  5. Even insects and arachnids should be captured and released outside, into a safe place, whenever possible.  They have their place in the scheme of things.
  6. There is no human trash. Some just need to be monitored more closely and held in firmer check.
  7. Education is a universal right.
  8. Food and beverages should be as free of contamination as is humanly possible.
  9. Fun is essential to the soul, though never had at another’s expense.
  10. Everyone’s legitimate work deserves respect.
  11. All prayers are heard by, and affect, the Universe.
  12. Time in nature is also essential to the soul.
  13. Love is the primary building block of the Universe.
  14. May I never walk away from a cry for help.
  15. A call for peace is the best sound that may escape one’s lips, first thing in the morning.
  16. The morning sun, the evening stars and moon are here to reassure us that there is always a force, greater than ourselves.
  17. When I am in a half-sleep, I communicate both with departed souls and with those who are in  my life, but who are not immediately present.
  18. Plants show an intelligence, in the way they propagate and in the way they seek what they need.
  19. God, the Divine, the Universe, the Infinite, the Eternal, reveals to us what we need and what we can comprehend, in the way of truth.  It has always been thus.

None of these are original thoughts, but they occur to me nonetheless and so I share.

 

The Fix-Its

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March 1, 2019-

I am now less than a week from being with family again.  It will be a tonic for my soul.  Work has become difficult in some respects, which have nothing to do with my co-workers, our students or, for that matter, with me.  That is a subject, though, for another time.  Besides, I have never signed up for “easy”.

I want to consider a recent social and legislative trend that is deeply troubling.  Those who style themselves “Progressives” have embarked on a social engineering project, allowing people with scant medical knowledge to determine which newborn babies can live and which should die.

I am referring, of course, to the recently-enacted law in New York, which, conceivably, will allow someone to beat a pregnant spouse, or significant other, kill the fetus and get off scot-free-for the baby’s death.  Similar legislation has been proposed by a more conservative administration in Virginia, but I digress.

There are a host of alternatives to mass infanticide, with their bottom line being:  “All life is sacred, sanctified.  A fetus in late term, and a disabled, or otherwise “inconvenient” newborn, are just as entitled to life as any creature who walks the Earth.   Rather than open the door to unscrupulous medical entrepreneurs, consider:

Adoption is far preferable to butchery.  It may even be worthwhile to consider establishing nurturing centers, where the unwanted child could get a fair shake at life.  I am not talking about orphanages, in the conventional sense. A parent facing hard times would not have to relinquish all ties to a child.  I am talking about licensed facilities, carefully monitored and regulated, with staff who are highly trained in early child development, brain research and organic/plant-based/essential oils-based nutrition.  These are all things that many progressives, and more than a few conservatives, say they want to see in the world.   It is far preferable to fund such centers than to fund abortion clinics, whose “craft”, if you will, should be a very last resort-only in case of forcible incest or a severe health risk to the mother.  Rape victims, I would imagine, would be better served by a nurturing center, which could also be attached to a rape crisis center and thus provide services to the victimized mother.

I offer these thoughts, with a view towards stopping the stampede towards madness, which, sadly, even political moderates seem to be joining.

 

Many Left to Cross

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February 27, 2019-

I spent the evening with a hospitalized elder.  Though much of my time and energy, over the years, has been spent with children and youth, the elderly are always a tonic for the soul.  We didn’t say much, as she was pre-occupied with eating, something that many of us, who tend to wolf down our food, might find odd.  This is a woman who is not going to go down by choking, though, so she remains the master of mastication.  Her life story remains a source of inspiration to me.  She is, like my late mother-in-law, a widow and the last of her parents’ children still alive.  She has sailed the Amazon, watched giant tortoises in the Galapagos, and enjoyed the finery of the great cities of Europe- and she is the matriarch of a small, but accomplished, family.

This is a time of year when many people rush at me, in the mail or online, pitching this product, or that business course.    These folks are astonished that I am not salivating over making tons of money.  Fact is, I have positioned myself to take care of yours truly, until the Divine calls me to the next level.  That is what my family expects, and their sensibilities matter most.  I am doing well, within those parameters.

There will always be those with their hands outstretched, and there will always be those with the Next Big Thing. I see those, on either end of the Money Spectrum, who stage tantrums or write in hyperbole, about how foolish they think those who ignore them are being.  Then I think, how little trust these people have in the Universe.  How little do they understand the Law of Attraction.

There is much territory left for me to navigate- both terrestrially and psychically.  There are many rivers, and oceans, yet to cross.  The crossing will take me far, wide and deep within.  Still, I glimpse the bright shore ahead.

Back On Track

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February 25, 2019-

Today is the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, which belong to none of our nineteen spiritual calendar months , of nineteen days.  It is a time of  special service activities, some gift giving and group celebrations.  In regular Gregorian years, like this one, the period consists of four days, and in Leap Years, five days.

Today also found us back at work, continuing on with the revised program.  Things went smoothly.  The weather is improving, again, and our little team is getting stronger, as small problems get resolved, in a congenial manner, before they become big issues.

Yesterday, part of my time was spent dealing with individual snow-disposal issues,  This evening found another matter with which to assist:  A returning traveler needed to have her car cleared, before she got back on the shuttle from Phoenix-so, Ayyam-i-Ha service activity # 1 was accomplished.

I stopped by Ms. Natural’s, and finally met the owner’s husband-on his own way back to work.  The establishment will be a key part of my own Healthy Spring-in essence, a continuation of the regimen I am promised when I visit Korea.

Love Spreads Out

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February 24, 2019-

One gets back the love

that one spreads out.

I’ve learned that,

even when I feel

out of sorts.

it’s best to give.

It’s best that

love expands.

So, a long-time friend

was freed to be

able to work and get around,

as the work week approaches.

So, a sweet young lady

is much appreciated,

for her hard work,

this evening.

So, I feel that my son

has taken the main

life lessons,

we taught him,

to heart and

to daily practice.

So, I feel that

my life,

in this last week

of an unusual month,

is on a most blessed,

fruitful path-

and that this

is nothing new.

 

Re-emergence

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February 23, 2019-

The day broke,

bright and sunny again.

The driveway and roads

are clear.

No sidewalks available, yet.

So, I drove downtown.

Visited two, very different,

favourite haunts.

Outlaw Donuts had re-opened,

just this morning.

The place was wonderfully packed.

Ms. Natural’s had also re-opened,

after a two-day hiatus.

I was glad,

very glad,

to see a long-absent friend.

The place was quiet,

but for my chatter with

the congenial owner,

about the events of the past few days.

Dear friend was quiet,

ensconced in research,

which looked daunting.

I know she can handle it,

and told her as much,

which brought a smile,

to her earnest, intense countenance.

Returning to Home Base,

I found two snow men in the yard.

Photos will be taken tomorrow.

After a bit more tidying up,

outside,

widening my turn-around area,

and scattering bread crumbs

for forlorn little birds,

then clearing a channel,

for run-off in the front,

I enjoyed a nice, long hydromassage.

Re-emergence is a sweet thing.