Day 66: Chang-won

My wheel fucking exploded again! Way more dramatic this time though. I was riding down a busy highway, trucks, fuck all room, bad drivers and all that when suddenly PHWAPOOM! My wheel bursts and open and flies apart like a grenade in a snake. Lucky it was the back wheel because otherwise my face would have been lacerated by flying tyre slithers.

I don’t even know what the fuck happened. I found some scrap metal in the remains of my tyre but how does that explain the explosion? Maybe it was pumped to much? I dunno, rainbows over though.

I had to hitchhike to the next town and buy another tyre and inner tube.

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Two days, two tyres and three inner tubes. That’s more than I’ve ever bought in my two year relationship with my bike.

Navigating in Korea is fucking hard. Google maps doesn’t give directions and apple maps gives shit ones. It’s really ambiguous what highways allow bikes and which ones are roads are highways at all. Maybe buying a physical map might solve this but I haven’t been able to find one in English. I’m trying to teach myself Korean but learning a new alphabet is proving to be as difficult as stereotyped.

I’ve been getting by through talking to strangers and street signs. It’s a very slow process. Today I was supposed to ride 87km to a city called Jinju but 45km of being lost teleported me several hours into the future – suddenly it was 4:00pm and I wasn’t even half way. Usually 87km takes me about four hours and that’s with breaks.

I gave up on that mission for the day. I want to meet a friend in Jirisan national park tomorrow for some hiking but that’s a further 130km so I’m going to get a train in the morning. So that gives me about 5hrs to enjoy the sights of Chang-wonsi, which apparently include some beautiful hiking.

I deciding hiking was going to bring me too close to sunset and a night in the forest so I spent the afternoon in drinking coffee, playing video games in a PC bang and bathing like a king in the local Jim-jil bang.

I’ve only been to two Jim-jil bangs and I’m already in love – heart palpating, shaky knees – real love. The one I’m in know has an equally opulent and comprehensive bathing space though this one has scented baths and extra beauty products. I spent most of my time cleansing my various bike wounds (dw, only scabs and grazes) in the rose flavoured bath. There was also an 84 degree sauna room. I didn’t try that.

By the way my two trips to Jim-jil bangs have cost me $7 and $9.

I’m pretty lucky Jong-Jim told me about them because I’ve found fuck all info about them on Hostelworld or lonely planet. There’s a bunch of info on some travel blogs but who reads those?

Another thing I’m in love with is Guk bap.

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Josh (Korean guy I met in Pusan) first introduced me to it. As a noob it’s hard to figure out what to do with everything but I was helped through the maze of condiments and dips by a friendly waiter and a gesticulatey old man in a baseball cap. The main item is the pork soup, a light broth served boiling hot with fatty slices of meat. In the broth you put spiced shallots, rice, salty shrimp relish and either chilli powder or gochujang sauce. On the side you get raw garlic, chilli and onion, kimchi and sometimes extra meat. The raw things are to be dipped in spiced soy bean paste and eaten as is. The meat has another separate dipping sauce, mirin and wasabi, and the kimchi is eaten alone.

It’s a fantastic mix of flavours which can range anywhere from subtle and thin to thick and volcanically intense depending on your preference. All of it usually costs around $6 or $7.

Fucking excellent.

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