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!

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