Halla Arboretum, Jeju, South Korea
Just a short walk or bike ride away from downtown Shin Jeju, there is a little bit of hidden paradise. If you enjoy walking, looking at flowers and trees and maybe even breaking into a sweat, Halla Arboretum is the place for you.
Jeju Do city planners had the foresight to set aside a sizeable tract of land (15 hectares) between Gwangji and Namjosun Oreums for an educational park. All 909 species of trees and flowers are well-labelled with their Latin, English and Korean names. This means that if you want or need to learn the name of, say, a common tree around Jeju, this place allows you to do just that.
The Arboretum is divided into eleven gardens, most notable of which are the rose garden, the tree and shrub gardens and the aptly named “non spontaneous growth area” which is chockfull of non-native trees and shrubs. The rose garden looks a little shrubby right now, (the finicky roses probably didn’t like the humid summer), but the two ponds festooned with water lilies are worth a quiet pause. Sightings of the local wildlife are also common. One can usually spot a pheasant or two, magpies, turtles, frogs, the requisite carp and even a snake that inhabits the area around one of the ponds.
If you want more exercise than a stroll around the slightly sloping main trails can provide, follow the signs to the “Green Shower Area” which will give you a choice of trails leading to the top of the oreum. From the top, good views of Sin Jeju can be had while you sit and catch your breath in the pavilion. Supplementing your exercise further is also possible by joining the local Koreans stretching and toning their muscles at one of the three exercise areas. The possibilities don’t stop here.
A nice packed dirt trail (two kilometers) located to the east of the park is awesome for running, although right now it is a little washed out from the typhoon. You can also give yourself a foot massage by taking the rock pathway that runs for about 100 metres along the dirt trail.
The Halla Arboretum is definitely doable in one or two hours. It’s a place you can visit again and again and always see something new. Before work is a good time to get yourself up there, especially if you live nearby. You can feed your inner soul on greenery, fresh air and exercise and be ready to have a pleasant time working.
– Danielle Mader