Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heads on the floor

Two weekends ago, my friend David and I went exploring in Gangneung's street market. It is a huge place, and it is possible to find some very strange things there. This is one thing we discovered.

More cyclists in Korea

One of the ways that I have been fighting home sickness has been to get myself involved in the local biking scene. Whenever I see another rider, I try to say hello. Usually they are pretty curious about me too. Here are some of the people I have met.

This fellow was riding his fancy triathlon bike right through the heart of downtown Gangneung. I was really surprised to see this, since the vast majority of cyclists in my area seem only to be interested in Mountain bikes. Anyway, this rider was wearing an aerodynamic teardrop helmet along with his face mask and sun glasses. It is typical for cyclist to completely cover up, even when it is very hot.
I met this cyclist on a recent ride I went on. I was on the return trip, riding along the beach road when I spotted his bike and trailer. I had to stop and investigate...

It turns out he was on a bike tour of South Korea. I think we would've gotten along pretty well, but he was going the opposite direction and we parted after getting coffee together. Anyway I thought his bike touring setup was pretty awesome. It is a good example of what can be done with a bike.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Visitors from France

Wow, its been a while since my last post. Well, there is a lot to talk about.

About one month ago, during a hiking field trip with the students, I met two French cyclists, Florent and Aurelie. We ran into each other in a parking lot at the edge of Soraksan Park. When I saw these two westerners on big touring bikes, loaded down with dry bags and touring gear, I had to investigate. I think they were as curious about me as I was about them and they seemed happy to talk to a fellow traveler. They explained that they were on a world wide bike tour and that they had ridden from France to Korea. We stood in the parking lot speaking for about ten minutes. Then we parted ways, or so we thought! Since I had just finished the hike, the other teachers wanted to sit down and get pancakes and rice wine. They had spotted me talking to Florent and Aurelie and, in standard Korean fashion, invited them to join us for a snack. We spoke for another 20 minutes over rice wine, exchanged contact information, talked about France and Korea, and finally said goodbye. They were planning to hike into Soraksan, and then continue their journey south.

It was a great surprise when I got an email from Florent a few days later. He and Aurelie were planning to stop in my home city of Gangneung! They were hoping to find a place to stay in the city, since camping in urban areas was difficult. I offered my apartment and after a few emails we arranged a meeting spot and a time.

They arrived on a Thursday night. After we unpacked all of their gear, I took them out for chim dak, which is Korean chicken stew with noodles. We spent most of the evening eating, talking, and listening to music. It was really an excellent night. Talking to them reminded me of my own adventures, traveling across Europe and of all the people who helped me then. I was glad to have the chance to host Florent and Aurelie, and pay some of that hospitality forward.
Look at all the stuff they were carrying! It basically filled up my apartment!
Here they are discussing the classic KISS soda can alcohol stove.
Here are their bikes being loaded up the next morning.
Have a good trip you two! I hope we meet again!