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Bountiful Botanical Bonanza

Jeju Island, South Korea


View Around the World! - Part 2 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

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Today we find ourselves on Jeju Island, a renowned tourist destination off the southern coast of South Korea. The cherry blossoms are currently in peak bloom, scattering petals in the gentle rain.

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Our port of entry is shown on the above map with the small red arrow. This is our opportunity to visit Hallim Park, (shown with longer red arrow) a globally recognized attraction known for its botanical and bonsai gardens, a miniature traditional village, and a lava-tube cave, which is part of a 10 mile-long lava-tube system, said to be the only lava caves in the world to contain stalagmites and stalactites. The establishment of Hallim Park in 1971 can be attributed to the visionary efforts of Song Bong-gyu, who started planting palm seeds on a 25-acre expanse of desolate sandy terrain. Over the years, this once barren land was transformed into a lush paradise, becoming a tropical haven for adventure. The park's unique features are unparalleled, creating a truly one-of-a-kind experience. To fully appreciate the magnitude of the transformation, take a look at the photo below, which shows the park's humble beginnings in 1971, and compare it to the photo taken today of the same location within the park. It's truly remarkable what a bit of creativity and ingenuity can achieve.

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Given Jeff's past experience in cultivating bonsai trees, we decided to explore the Bonsai gardens. Bonsai is a Japanese art form that involves growing and shaping miniature trees in containers, which originated from the Chinese art of penjing. This art form entails the careful cultivation and styling of trees to produce a miniaturized and sometimes stylized depiction of a tree in its natural setting. There were so many great creations, it's difficult for me to select the ones to show you. Some were as old as 100 to 300 years. Here are but a few from this vast garden, along with a couple of the workers diligently pruning various trees.

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Jeju Island, South Korea's most notable volcanic island, was formed through persistent volcanic activity, culminating in a variety of unique and captivating rock formations. These range from simple, intriguing shapes to more complex lava tubes, which we discovered in this island garden. Do you see the face in the photo preeding the blue diagram?

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The park is renowned for its diverse animal population, featuring an array of bird, reptile, and mammal species. Here are some of the fascinating creatures we encountered, and Jeff, true to form, even found some equine "specimens."

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The final stop on today's visit of Jeju Island, was the Seogwang Tea Garden, the largest green tea plantation in the area. You'll notice the small, bright green tips on the tops of the plants. These are meticulously cultivated by hand to produce the green tea for brewing. Additionally, we had the opportunity to observe the process of roasting and packaging, which are crucial steps in preparing the final product for sale.

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There's nothing like a soothing cup of freshy-brewed green tea to conclude the visit to Jeju Island's impressive garden. Now Jeff's inspired to learn how to crack a whip, raise a falcon and renew his interest in creating a bonsai tree. He can hardly wait to get started!!

Posted by Where2FromHere 01:34 Archived in South Korea

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