It's Sink or Swim
Last week I was planning a Japan Cycling trip…..
So here I am in Korea after googling ‘Cycling in Korea’ (don’t judge me or do…)
But it turns out there is a huge wacky cycling culture here and a cross country cycling trail from Seoul to Busan!
The trip so far has been mind blowing, leaving a very quiet Niseko and the country side to touching down here!
The first evening I had to just adapt to the hustle and bustle of city life and the change in culture. I had big plans to go eat Korean BBQ, Its famous and
shamefully that is the extent of my knowledge for Korean foods (cringe) .
I met a gentleman at a coffee stop that pointed me in the direction of a BBQ area. So many restaurants with sizzling meat and the smell, mouth-watering, but I could not bring myself to enter. They were so loud and busy and Vibrant! OK I will just go to that little café with a cute owl picture for a pork cutlet then…
Next day I put my big girl pants on… Into the markets and its sink or swim…
I had a slight sink when a lady had to signal to me with hand gestures to hurry up and eat my food. OIOI, I was checking my phone and must have stopped chewing for a second. But I get it, A seat at the stall is money, you must treat the food stations like a game of hot potato. No time to digest.
So clearly out of my depth I have been trying to observe everything as little research has been done, I know nothing of the language so it’s been quite amusing though a smidgen shameful. The servers’ reactions to me when I walk in having no idea. they suck their teeth, they rush me and push me to the seating or to buy…They are not handling me in such a way to be rude. It is because they are busy the servers are always multi-tasking. People just shout to get attention, and that’s what they do. Server and customer shout at each other. Korean dining and shopping is loud and mad and GREAT!
I cannot say I have done to many of the main tourist attractions here in Seoul I get too distracted by everything else, The quirky cafes and shops. The architecture of a hanbok village planted in the middle of the city blending old age and new age.
Theirs just so much happening and I love how they just have different areas for things… wedding dresses, electronics, and gold street the whole area full of jewelers and a lot of them seem to stock lots of similar items which makes it uber competitive.
Easy for shopping I guess if you know what you want but not sure if it’s the best business strategy. But correct me if im wrong it looks like haggling is also a big Part of the culture!
Top tip most stores accept card but markets and restaurants it’s still good to have some cash handy.
Anyhow back to Cycling, I plan to complete the four rivers cross country route. I have rented a bike for seven days starting tomorrow and I’m super excited. I cant rent in Seoul and drop off in a store in Busan. How convenient is that!
I had my first taste of Korea cycle culture today and again it blew my mind. I did the first section of the trail Ara waterway as I had to go pick up my cycling passports from the start point. ( A little out of the city) Along the trail is little red phone booths containing stamps to mark you passport as you cycle the route. FUN!
First you need a BELL and do not wear earphones. I guess its so busy as it’s the main cycling route from the city, anything goes! you have mini bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes and recumbent trikes, road bikes, E- bikes you get the idea. Some are hanging out with boom boxes blasting as they cruise and some are working out SHOUTING to clear the way. Theirs a 20km speed limit but that’s definitely ignored!
I came across some very cool things though, lots of mini stops and seating/ watering areas. 'Some benches had metal wheels for legs... cute.'
Lots of toilet stations, outdoor gym equipment stations, bike repair trucks that are happy to give you a service and lots of cycling equipment to be had. I think I came across 6 or 7 stalls like this in a 30 km radius. Be interesting to see if this continues down the trail after leaving the Seoul area… I think maybe no.
Camping… So many little tents! I have a tent with me for emergency accommodations but lots of people were camped by the river this weekend. Seems if you find a spot you can pitch up. Might come in handy, I plan to try and use Jjimjilbangs ( sauna bath houses) to wash and rest at if I can, but I have a trusty tent if not.
So Tomorrow I set off with a very ruff plan.
Lets see if I sink or Swim ;)
Wish me luck!