Saturday, June 10, 2006

Home Early

It's a day early but we thought we'd seen what we wanted to and rain was closing in.

We left after school on Friday and took a bus from Yatap station which is closer to Suji than the other bus terminals we've used lately. It took a little over 3 hours to get to Geonju, a small (and rundown) city in the Southwest province of Jeollabuk. The love hotels around the station were shining brightly, and we selected a tall, neon-lit one with a window between the shower and the bedroom. That's hot. Too bad we've never again encountered a circular bed and mechanical sex chair since Busan in November.

I hate a terrible sleep for some reason. I think maybe the mattress was too hard but my limbs kept falling asleep or stiffening up no matter what angle I chose. I woke up too many times in the night. I hated it, even with the shower window.

In the morning we took a bus to an even smaller and more rundown town called Jinan where an unfriendly, unsmiling man in a shack sold us a bus ticket to Maisan park, our final destination.

We arrived hungry and for lack of any other options chose to try the "famous" Geonju Bibimbap. I used to love bibimbap and couldn't understand people who said they can't stomach it anymore. I can't stomach it anymore. It was a big waste but at least the white rice was hotter than it is at school.
Soon we hit the trail heading for our destination - the cool picture in the Lonely Planet guide of the piles of rock. To get there we had to climb a million stairs (okay, 600 to be precise) then detour to a cave that wasn't worth the climb, and then down another long set of stairs. I felt so out of shape and bad. What's up with that? These Koreans are running around with no problem and I'm huffing and puffing away. Luckily a Pocari Sweat picked me right up.

We finally reached the magically stable towers of rock erected by a famous guy a long time ago. They were worth the stairs, I guess, especially with the shining sun on our faces.

Innocently we sat watching nothing in particular when a smiling man dressed in a red cap, buttoned short sleeve shirt, fancy pants, and shiny black shoes came along and starting chatting. Not so unusual, really. He was friendly and perhaps a bit clingy, and we ended up spending some time walking and talking with he and his friend. His friend really liked striking that huge drum.
They were old military cronies reuniting for a visit and both sported their service rings. It was touching. And the ice cream they bought for us was so worth it. He took a number of pictures of us and promised to mail them "after three days". I'll be checking the mail, buddy.

We saw everything there was to see at the park and took all those buses back to Geonju. Oh wait, that's not true - we got picked up by a police cruiser and the friendly cops struggled to speak English while they drove us to the bus station in Jinan. We were going to stay another night and see an apparently famous and interesting area of preserved and still-used old style buildings but the bus to Seoul was more tempting and we were on the road at 4:20. A big, bad rain storm complete with thunder and lightning started at 5:00.

Now I'm home and still have a whole Sunday ahead of me. Excellent.

This kid has a long way to go.


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