Dong Hae, South Korea – Day 20

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Thursday, 16 August 2012 Dong Hae, South Korea (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723. 0 hour

Weather Temps in the upper 80’s with clouds and rain

As I mentioned yesterday in my blog, I had a very interesting evening at dinner after stoping at a local restaurant in downtown Dong Hae. As I walked in to the rather large open room, there were about dozen people eating and enjoying their company with all sitting on the floor…nothing I haven’t seen in other Asian restaurants…as customary, I removed my shoes and said, “one for dinner”.

That’s when they responded, “2 people only” or something close to that…I answered that I was alone and just wanted something to eat in my best English of course. We were at a bit of an impasse when a man got up and explained I was alone and to serve me. The host rather reluctantly seated me and brought water and utensils along with lighting a propane burner. Felt like Bob Seger’s song “Turn the Page” with every eye upon you.

Another few moments passed and the server brought a large pan of fresh bacon or pork bellies that he began to cook at my table…wasn’t sure what, how or when to eat – just sipped my water and watched everyone around the room.

Soon, the server added cabbage and other vegetables to the mixture…the whole process reminded me of cooking out while camping. The dish was delicious and quite spicy and I asked for a beer in my best Korean (had my translator and had seen CASS beer in several spots around town) so I was good to go.

A couple if young women were seated next to me and I notice one was speaking very good English…I couldn’t help but to introduce myself and tell them about my trip. They seemed a bit impressed by my bus ride from Incheon given I knew no Korean. Both were sisters with one from Vancouver, Canada and going to the University of Washington and the other a school teacher in Dong Hae…wished I had gotten their names.

Dinner was about $14 USD with the beer at $3 and the girls told me my dinner was Shioyaki – a Japanese dish…Culturally enriched I am!

During my walk yesterday to the DBS Ferry port I also passed a small beach called Mangsang where a couple of people were surfing and enjoying the holiday…you can see the cargo ships in the distance waiting their turn to unload – probably backed up a bit due to the holiday.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Dong Hae, South Korea – Day 19

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Wednesday, 15 August 2012   Dong Hae, South Korea (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723. 0 hour riding time.

Weather  Temps in the med 80’s with mostly cloudy skies and humid

First night in Dong Hae and got the best night of sleep since leaving home a couple of weeks ago.  Up about 5:30am and started my laundry in the sink…starting to get pretty good with this handwashing thing….I am getting accustomed all the basic things we often take for granted – sponge baths, hand laundering, limited electronic communications.  I have to beleive there are a many of you out there that have never gone a week, let alone a day, having to do these things – it just takes me back to those days in Alaska when times were tough!

After looking on the net, I located the DBS Ferry site and found out that their offices were south of the city a couple of miles at the Dong Hae port.  I decided to set out in that direction to find the spot…it was quite hot & humid and I got a bit warm, but a great walk along the shore.  Now that I’ve found the ferry port, it will make things easier when I head back that way again to uncrate and reassemble the bike.

Today is a national holiday in Korea similar to our 4th of July, so there was little traffic on the streets and many of the stores were closed.  Many of the people here were flying their Korean flags from apartment building windows, homes & and businesses.

My room at the Hotel Lisa is comfortable and clean; however it took me some time to figure out the TV, air conditoner and lighting – everything is operated from a remote control and being its in Korean characters it took a few attempts…have one english speaking channel which plays movies and TV shows like CSI – Miami & House.  Never watch these show at home, but, hey, I just leave it on for background noise and my only connection with the US at the moment.

As part of my expanding global, cultural immersion program, I found a small local restaurant near the hotel for dinner and I, of course, just jumped right in…it was an experience to say the very least and I will give you all the details in my next blog update with pictures.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Incheon to Dong Hae, South Korea – Day 18

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Tuesday, 14 August 2012  Incheon to Dong Hae, South Korea (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723. 0 hour riding time. Total bus time – 6 hours. Miles – 225 miles

Weather  Temps in the lower 80’s with mostly sunny skies

Woke this morning at 3:30 am local time with a plan of taking a taxi over to the airport without my gear to check on options getting to Dong Hae on the eastern coast of Korea.  Melissa Smith provided me with a couple of suggestions with one being a rental car with a driver; however, after talking with the hostess at the hotel, she mentioned I could get to Gangreung by an express bus putting me about 50k north of Dong Hae.  With that option in mind, I decided to just go ahead and load up the circus wagon leaving the hotel  by taxi at 6:45.

After arriving at the airport, the driver wanted $10 and I offered him $7 which is all I had in smaller bills…he of course pushed back and when I gave him a $20 all he had in change was $5000 won which exchanges to about $5…it was a $15 taxi ride, but well worth it given the amount of gear I carrying.  The language barrier is a constant issue from the hotel hostess, taxi drivers, bus ticket clerk…you name it!  After standing in line for my bus ticket to Gangreung, it was now my turn to make a best effort requesting my Gangreung and it was, of course, not going well until a young lady behind me stepped forwarded and cleared the air…I have found that all the Korean’s have been quite helpful to me during my short time in country.  The cost of the 4.5 hour trip was $26,800 won or about $25…can’t beat that especially since the bus is similar to tour buses you see in the US with large baggage departments below.

Passing through the countryside you see many rice farms, green houses and lush green forests with many mountains even with ski areas towards the east coast…similar to what you’d find in East Tennesse & Western North Carolina.  I was feeling a bit cocky by this time given I was well on my way ot Dong Hae…the cockiness was short-lived shortly ofter I rolled into Gangreung.  The scene was chaotic at the bus terminal with buses transitioning every few minutes and given I’m a bit weak reading Korean characters – believe I actually failed that class, things got interesting.

Being a large facility and carrying five, heavy bags, I just wasn’t quite mobile enough to scout the place out adequately…so I decided to lock my 4 largest bags together at the entrance to the termnal and set out to find out my next move.  As luck would have it, I saw and information booth and stepped inside only to discover both ladies understood little english; however, they made a phone call and after several discussions with a gentlemen on the other end of the line that spoke good english, it was best that I take another bus to Dong Hae.  Again, back on stage at the ticket counter with no one speaking english, and once again, a nice lady stepped forward to assist…the ticket for the hour ride was only $3400 won or about $3.25 USD…what a day of value!

The cockiness was starting to come back when I suddenly realized I had to move all the gear in multiple trips from a second floor platform to the lower level & with no carts in sight…one of the challenges of traveling solo.

Loaded and on to Dong Hae, I still had a nagging suspicion I might be on the wrong bus, but when we rolled into Dong Hae it was clearly marked on the terminal building…but wait, you guessed it – I sitll had to find a cab to make the trip to Hotel Lisa and as I’d faced a few times before, the cabs were lined up about 50 yards from where I unloaded…an do keep in mind, you are responsible for loading and unloading your own baggage on and off the bus.

I’m worn out again just reliving the moments as I type away on the this blog!!

After checking in to Hotel Lisa, I’ll tell you more about that in a later blog, I realized I hadn’t eaten all day and set out to find some reminder of home – and there beckoning me were those 3 letters – KFC…a chicken sandwich and orange Fanta and I was back!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!