Back on the road! First stop: South Korea.

After two and half years the day that I had been waiting for was finally arriving. It took alot of focus and sacrifice in order to keep alive my dream of riding back to England. In the big picture, I have bigger and brighter dreams to look forward to. However this has been my focus since I arrived in Oct 2011.

I hadn’t stayed in a place for over two years. So I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to move on. But I felt it was the right time. I was stagnating. Everyday was the same and I was ready for a change of scenery and challenge. So, at about 8.30pm on Tuesday the 13th I set off in the dark to cycle to downtown to crash at my good mate Leons place. After 30 mins I had to stop to throw up. All the emotions, adrenaline and physical exertion were expelled out, onto the side of the motorway. After that I felt better and after 4 hours or so made it to downtown… Then spent the next hour finding Leons house…

Next day I said my goodbyes and was back to my ‘old’ lifestyle.. But suddenly I wasn’t sure if it felt normal or surreal. It would take a few days for it all to sink in. The next day we docked and there was no turning back. Not that there was ever a chance of that happening.

I slowly made my way towards the ‘River Bike Trail’ which passed along 4 major rivers in the country, from Incheon, where I arrived, to Busan, the bottom of Korea. I was an easy start compared to where I was looking to head.However physically I hadn’t done much for a month.

Nevertheless, the first day, second day passed and I felt OK. I slowly gained miles. Made a few wrong turns. But I was enjoying the new challenge. Enjoying the sun, the road, open and only pointing forward. The way it should be.

I won’t go into too much detail about every day so far. However a few moments worth mentioning:

– Spending and hour and a half climbing a 5km incline. Arriving at the top exhausted I had almost ran out of money, so could only afford an ice cream. Then two old guys I met before we started shouted me over to buy me lunch. A massive Curry. It certainly done the job. Once again the kindness of people is to be found on the road.

– Arriving in the city of Daegu. Having not washed in 4 or 5 days. Without any accommodation planned. I went on Couch Surfing and tried to find a host. Within 30 mins I had a reply, and shortly after met Jinna, who collected me and showed me to her friends house. Spent the afternoon with her showing me the sights. She bought me a Sweater, as I was outside in only my vest, and it had suddenly got cold and windy. Next day I met some of her friends and they shouted me a lovely lunch. I repaid them with Ice cream!

– Having left Daegu in the evening and riding to an intersection of sorts. I had decided to camp there, however a man approached me and started questioning me. He spoke no English but assured me I was going the wrong way and had to return from where I came. I wasn’t sure. He walked away and I got paranoid about him. I decided not to camp there and continue on in the opposite direction, asking a few people if I was going the correct way. They said I was. Next day, and 50kms later I realised I wasn’t going the right way… I could have go to Busan, but it would have meant following the roads. I was keen to continue on the River Bike path… So, back I pedalled, camping 100 yards further back from where I was the night before. Frustrating!

– It was later afternoon and I was still no way near a suitable place to camp. It was then that the heavens opened up. A storm, which had been brewing all afternoon finally arrived. Already exhausted, I pedalled hard in the wind and rain to get to a town of sorts as fast as I could. I came across an empty restaurant with some cabins next to it. Inside I peered to find brand new interiors. In two of the rooms there were workers sleeping. The other one was open, and empty. I pushed Stella in and decided to stay. What was the worse that could happen? An hour later or so, some more people arrived. I approached them, and in sign language we agreed that I could stay as long as I left the next morning. I did, and early!

– Following day was a long hard, day. Most interesting point was climbing a hill and reaching a monasry. A Monk came out and ushered me in, offerning me breakfast and water. I hadn’t eaten yet. Perfect. It was rice soup. Not great, but it was the thought that counts. But when I started talking to the Monk, I realised he was bonkers! He said I needed to go to Chicago, which is where I would find my destiny. This was before he stated, in a hushed voice that he was the reincarnation of Chairman Mao… I was sworn to secrecy…. He suggested I stay and rest for the day as it was looking to rain again. I would have even he wasn’t such a nutter!

– So, final day and I was getting close to Busan. I’d already done 100kms. The most I’d done so far in a day. I was already exhausted. After running (or rather cycling) into a cyclist I met the day before, he told me the beach I wanted to get to was still 20kms away! It was peak hour of course. So I spent the next 2 hours riding in the city towards the beach where there were some guesthouses. I stopped for a Pizza. They guy spoke good English. His friend had a guesthouse. 20 mins away. I continued on. It was now 9.30pm. I still couldn’t see the beach. I stopped and asked in a bar if there were any guesthouses around. There was, right across from the bar. Sometimes I wonder if luck is luck, or something else working on a much higher level to help me out!

So, I’ve been in Busan two days. I’ve been relaxing. My knees were a bit sore. Now they are OK. The day after tomorrow I hope to hop back on Stella and catch a Ferry to Japan. South Korea has been a good start. However I long for the more exotic locations. Siberia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan…. I’ve only started, but I look forward to what lay ahead!

Click here for pics!

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