Inside, the museum had some beautiful displays of natural rock formations. Many made me chuckle as I silently named them after people I know. The "Grandmother" rock reminded me of a wooden craft sculpture I used to make with the scroll saw. (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Pam!)
Outside was quite impressive. There were three "courses" to walk through and enjoy. Anciently Koreans had tens of thousands of "Gods". The were superstitious and placed rock formations at key places around their homes to ward off negative aura. The also crafted ancestor rocks to provide companionship and to honor their dead.
This was the first of many places we would find the famous Jeju Island "Grandfather" sculpture made of local volcanic rock and with miniatures selling for a premium! Legend has it that by rubbing his nose, your will be blessed with fertility and will bear a son. (Ooowww, now I get it!)
It was a chilly and extremely windy afternoon, but we wanted to make the best of it. My next goal was to drive to Seongsan Ilchulbong Toff Cone (commonly called "Sunrise Peak") so that we could hike to the brim to watch the sunset. It is the photo icon most associated with Jeju - a crater that was formed when a volcano erupted under the ocean. The cone has a large basin at the top which was just starting to turn green. We did catch the sunset as we left the mount.
Our initial plan was to spend the next day hiking Mount Halla, the highest mountain in South Korea. There is a lake filled crater at the top which is surrounded by about 40 oreums (secondary volcanic cones). However, with the still winter like scenery and snow on the mount, we decided instead to enjoy the lower outreaches of the island. Our first stop was Hallim park. It boasts eight theme parks in one, with lava caves, a folk village, animals, water gardens, stone and bonsai gardens and more. It was designed for the tourist, and we certainly fit the part.
As we drove around the west coast we stopped to take in some of the beautiful sights including a shimmering white sand beach framed with black lava rock and honoring the haenyeo (women divers collecting sea food) of Jeju, a lush green tea garden, historical sites and small islets in the sea.
Can this lovely island turn out to be any more stunning? . . .