If you didn’t have much time on Jeju Island, this was the place to visit — a kind of all in one package. Beyond the beautiful gardens, the site included a Jeju historical village and Hyeopjae lava cave formed from a volcanic explosion of Halla Mountain.
Hallim Park was the creation of Bong-Kyu Song who began planting trees over the then barren landscape back in 1971. He removed stones and brought in fertile soil to replace the sand and transformed this section of western Jeju Island into a paradise.
I arrived in the middle of fall when there were no flowering trees, but it was the Chrysanthemum Festival. These huge flowers lined both sides of the path. In Korea, this flower is often associated with death so I had not been surprised to find imitation chrysanthemums beside graves at the Military and Police Cemetery in Hallasan National Park the previous day.
I idled back and forth where chrysanthemum tea was on offer and nibbled on chrysanthemum cookies, but for me, the best section of the park was the stone and bonsai gardens. Hundreds of bonsai were on display, some as old as 300 years.
I ended my tour with a mung bean pancake having had the most relaxing day. I savoured every moment exploring the park, knowing my days on Jeju Island were almost at an end.