Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Beach and the Food

You will never go hungry in Korea. There is more food places than any other shop, its amazing they can all stay in business. Food is also very cheap.
J'ean and I are not so good at waiting around and by early afternoon we had had enough. We needed to get some food and do a little shopping. Lotte - is large department store and hotel. It seems women love the department store - Why?
Because they seem to make up 80% of the people in the stores and restuarants. It would seem they get to shop and do coffee with their friends while husbands and fathers work to support their life style. On a side note, Korea does have one of the highest suicide rates in males and there divorce rate is amoungst the highest in the world...... I wonder why?
Ordering food is done with alot of pointing and smiles. Your meal comes with 2 or 3 small side dishes, usaully spicy and mild. J'ean did eat one of those small green chillies - he was unaware of what it was - his face turned red, eyes watered and started fumbling for a glass of water. Me being the good mate, I was having problems suppressing my laughter.
Moving from the food floor down to the fashion floor we shopped for jeans for me a shirt for J'ean.......lets leave it at that!
Back at Junes place some new guests had arrived and we introduced ourselves and asked the normal questions, where you from, where are you going?
June gave us a small piece of good news, our bike paperwork has now been processed and the crates are awaiting transport to Sokcho. I will be very happy when this actually happens, fingers crossed for Monday.
Early evening saw us going out for Korean BBQ with 2 of the other guests, Chisato from Japan and Brandon from the States.
None of us can speak Korean although Chisato and Brandon can read it a little, the Korean BBQ place did not have pics of there menu just words in Korean and a price. In these situations the only thing to do is first ask for beer and then look like you know what you want and point at it and keep your fingers crossed that it will be pallitable. J'ean and I got our introduction to Korean Rice Wine. Chisato poured it into 4 small shot glasses and we all toasted each other and down the hatch it went.
Not the way I was taught to drink wine but none the less it tasted good. The food we ordered arrived and for want of a better desciption it is similar to stone grill except the stone in Korea is on fire and there is a grill above it. With a few chop stik skills and a pair of scissors we cut our food up into bite size potions and cook it. To eat the cooked food you place it on an open lettuce leaf and add various other garnishments. Above the grill is a hanging tube this the exhaust to extract the smoke from your burning food - something we did well at, as the waitress changed our grill plate 3 times. I think the rice wine shots had something to do with this. Walking the streets of Busan at night is something to be experienced, the place is complete transformation from its daytime appearence. If ever you find yourself here, go and buy icecream at Cold Stone, it is a show to watch and a delight to eat :)))

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Busan and the waiting game

May 18 - 19 Incheon and Busan

We wake to a foggy rainy day in Incheon Korea. I thought we had left winter behind - at least its not cold!
From Busan airport we caught a bus to our backpacker accomodation. With the language barrier we had no idea how we are supposed to pay for the bus or for that matter when we where suposed to get off. There was just enough english on our tourist map to figure out when to get off. We all ready knew that the taxi fare would have cost us between 15000 and 40000 won ($20 - 45 NZD). The bus driver seemed content to charge us 2000won (2.50 NZD), we didnt argue!
With a short walk in the rain and some finger pointing from the locals we found Zen Backpackers and meet June, the guy that runs the place. Located on the 15th floor of an apartment building it is not the easiest place to find. Contrary to its location the place absolutely buzz's with guests coming and going.
With having been feed and accomodated we proceeded to get on with the task of getting our bikes. June was rescuing knight here, he did alot of ringing around and organinising payments on our behalf. With an address in our hand we headed for the subway and what we hope is the location of our bikes. Even with the language barrier, Koreans on the whole are very helpful and often go out of their way to help.
Arriving at the GTC yard and a few introductions we go looking for the crates. We are happy to see they have arrived in one piece and are keen to get on with the task of uncrating them....... Whoa there boys, not so fast!!!
Customs have not yet cleared them. Damn. After a few more phone calls and some explaining we head back to Junes place without the bikes. All we can do is wait for a phone call when customs have released them. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the Backpackers.
The following morning...... "What can I say.......still no bikes"
Apparently Koreans do not like imported goods with out all the correct paper work. From our point of view we are not importing them into Korea but only using it as a transit zone. We are given the option of having the bikes shipped to Sokcho where we can board the ferry for Russia. Unfortunately for us it is now a public holiday here as they celebrate Buddas birthday, nothing will happen until Monday 24 May and even then we have to wait for a phone call from a transport company.
I am going to practice my yoga.....ooommmmm!!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Adventure Underway

Quite has a lot has happened since I last wrote in this blog. I find I have to be somewhat in the mood to do updates. The past 8 months have been alot of things least of all relaxing.

Late October 2009 saw me and a friend - Mike - heading off to Aussie for a couple of weeks for some back road riding from Brisbane to Melbourne.

Ok lets get upto date with my current adventure.... Busan Korea to Paris France, riding across Russia and Europe. It all started 2 years ago with a question from J'ean (John) - south African - "Do you want ro ride across Russia?"

May 16 2010, Sunday 6.40pm, saw us farewelling friends and family at the Napier airport. We are flying to Korea to collect our bikes, which we had crated and sent a month earlier.

Our flight has a stop over in Singapore for 2 hours. For most travellers this is a chance to stretch the legs, get a real coffee, read a magazine...... not us!!...Nooo! We or should I say J'ean has arranged to meet a guy to buy a charger for his helmet cam. Being in a transit lounge you are not supposed to leave this area. J'ean manages to con the immigration officer, got out, meet the guy and got his charger, jumped a 200 meter long cue of departing passengers at immigration and got back to the transit lounge with time to spare - only J'ean! We made to Korea with no further excitement.