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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Busan to Daegu

SOUTH KOREA | Monday, 16 November 2015 | Views [679]

On the road to Daegu

On the road to Daegu

My time in Korea is winding down and in less than 24 hours I'll be in the DPRK. Victoria and Josh would host me after running into them coincidently on the train a couple of nights ago, and since I had stored some gear at Carlsen's house I had went there waiting for him. I was planning on making a run for Daegu yesterday and overnighting at a jjimjilbang (Korean bathhouse) somewhere there. I had nothing formal to wear for visiting Kumsusan Memorial Palace, so Josh and I would go out shopping. It would take up much of the early afternoon, but Josh was incredibly helpful in terms of finding stuff. In Korea, pants tend to be one length and when purchased are often tailored to the person's size. Josh would note how clothing tends to be expensive here and there's often little things (stitchings, etc.) that you wouldn't want on clothing. I'd find a shirt and tie for a total of about 10,000 won (about $10) and I'd find a pair of pants later for only about 5,000 won. If I had more time I would love to have stayed with Josh and Victoria for another night. They're an awesome couple! Busan was one of the most difficult places to find a CS host but in the end I scooped out three awesome hosts from three different countries. 

This morning I took the train to Kaya University Station, the end of the line with the road leading to Daegu. I hoped to hitchhike as I've yet to have my first Korean hitchhiking experience. In the end I was picked up by a bus. For about a half hour I had no idea where the hell I was going and when a woman tried to talk to me I couldn't respond. I was taken to the bus station where I'd pick up a ticket to Daegu. Korean bus stations are cleaner and far less chaotic than in many other places.

In a week in Korea this is my only glimpse of the Korean countryside. A little over an hour later I'd arrive in Daegu. Korea is small enough that there are no overnight bus journeys; the longest trip is only about five hours. I would have several hours to hang out in Daegu and it allowed me to get some chips at Mom's Touch one final time. Outside I snapped some candid shots; these ladies with their pink umbrellas are lovely.

Taking the train to Ayanggyo Station, I called in at Coffee Kalos and enjoyed another tipple. Koreans are busy people so it's no wonder coffee has a firm hold here. From there it was a short, albeit wet walk to Daegu International Airport. Since I'm entering China on the visa waiver I had to have a printout of my itinerary and visa for the DPRK. It took nearly an hour to sort it all out and I was nervous. To enter China on the waiver you can't have a ticket to the country you came from, and if the Korean authorities really wanted to be hard asses they could possibly say "we consider the DPRK to be part of Korea" but everything was fine in the end. A drink or two often helps me out before flying and since they sell bottles of soju at 7-Eleven I picked up a couple. Orange-flavoured soju is my favourite. The situation with the Chinese visa threw some of my plans into disarray but luckily a few days ago I found a ticket to Beijing on Jeju Air for only 63,000 won (about $55). One local man was surprised, asking "how did you know about Jeju Air, being a foreigner?" With some soju in my system I smiled, happy that I really enjoyed a country that I never thought too much of visiting until recently. 

Korea has grown to be a place I really enjoy. Years ago I said that the only real reason I want to go to the DPRK is because nobody goes there and that I've never even had a true interest in Korea, but that's all changed now. If the Chinese visa had worked out I would have only had four days in Korea but instead I had seven, and that's still far from enough time. Surely I'd love to come back and go to Seoul and see a lot more of the country. There are a lot of great hiking opportunities, and the nature is sure to make me return. The colours of autumn are something I hadn't seen for a long, long time and brought back faint memories of the American east coast . Jeju-do is on my list for a future trip as well, and I'd love to experience hitchhiking here. Korea is one of those place that merits at least a month. Perhaps someday I'll teach English here.

Korea doesn't receive many foreign visitors and could easily be the travelling world's best kept secret. The only tricky part of Korea is the language barrier. Learning a few Korean phrases will make life a lot easier. If you're nervous, meet some locals, practice some Korean, and have a shot of soju. For now I must say 고맙습니다. That's gomabseubnida ("thank you" in Korean), and I say exactly that to Carlsen, Tim, and Josh & Victoria for hosting me, as well as Tim's friend Josh for inviting me to the poetry reading and receiving me so well, and gomabseubnida overall for a great time in Korea. Beijing here I come!

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