Days 2-4, or, Up the East Coast

Frank assessment: Days two through four failed to live up to day one in terms of weirdness.   
Day two consisted mostly of me alternately riding on a highway under the blazing sun and pulling over at rest stops to fill up my water bottle and soak my hat, shirt, scarf and armbands in water to keep me cool while on the road.  I enjoyed a massive lunch and then enjoyed an afternoon floating in my hammock, napping and reading unpestered by ants and mosquitoes.  Also fun was climbing over the highway median divider to help a trio of cycle-touring college students to fix a flat tire.  Because of the delay caused thereby, I wound up stopping at a tiny beach with no markets in sight and bumming some onions, taters, and a gourd off of a sushi restaurant lady and then figuring out how to use the stove to a very weird couscous mélange.  I then had the good fortune of getting invited to sit down and have a few beers with an overconfident, undercompetent, totally drunk “CEO” and his four employees, who were out on a company retreat.  “I tell you, I’m not particularly interested in America or Americans, but you know, I just said, hey, ‘Let’s have a drink with this guy.’’  He used that line about twelve times.  I escaped to bed/tent when the youngest employee picked him up and took him to the edge of the parking lot to puke. 
 What the sunrise really looked like

What “foliage mode” makes it look like

Can’t not take this picture

Cycling for a whole month on a crappy bike with low-quality gear.  I said “you’re brave.”  He said “No, I’m an idiot.”

Cop man.

Yup.

Lunchtime Chemistry Lesson: 
“What is water?
– Water is a ubiquitous, colorless, scentless, flavorless liquid necessary for the preservation fo all life.
1.  Water is the ultimate source of all life.
2.  The human body is made up of more than 75% water.  (Brain 75, heart 75, lungs 86, liver 86, kindyes 83, muscles 75, blood 83, bones 22)
3.  Water doesn’t need people, but without water people can’t live.”   

Another five dollar lunch.  I love Korea.  

 
A perfect afternoon.
 If only NK would open its borders!
2-second timer…
Campsite

 First try on the stove.
 Day three contained next to nothing notable.  Having grown more confident in my stove-cooking skills, I grabbed a few ingredients at the market, then pulled over at a gravesite (a little morose, I know, but I was starving and there were no other clearings since I was on a highway) after I made it into Gangwon province a few hours later and made an awesome Perilla noodle dish.  Onions, potatoes, noodles, sauce.  Wow!  Took a nap on a bench at a rest stop and then cycled till dinner time, where I was treated to the stickiest potatoes I’d ever tried.  I deliberated about whether or not to sleep at a Sauna and clean up, but figured I wasn’t quite dirty enough yet, and it didn’t look like it would rain anyhow.  Plus I hadn’t yet hit 100, so I trudged on until I found what I expected to be a small beachside camping ground.  Instead, it turns out it was a giant campsite which also happened to be hosting a giant karaoke contest.  From the comfort of my tent, I got to hear some of my favorite Korean songs as well as a pretty good rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” as I fell asleep.
The ultimate breakfast: peanuts, raisins, seeds.  Even a little bowl like this, eaten before seven, keeps me full til twelve.  I still need to learn the fine art of seed sprouting, though.

 

“Next Rest Stop: 104 km”
Actual next rest stop: 4km. 
 Into the next province.  Frightening, as I had been told numerous times that the terrain in Gangwnodo would kill me.

 
My first crack at perilla noodles.  Not terrible.
I LOVE THIS COUNTRY

 Baby squash pancakes, stirfried shiitakes

Sticky candied potatoes. 
 1000km (since July 1)
 
 Slightly crowded in the tent.
It did wind up raining that night, so day four started with a slow morning.  I woke up at six (usually it’s 5:20, when the sun comes up), lazed and dozed till almost eight, then packed up and was on the road by nine thirty.  The hazy weather was again nice to ride in, though, interestingly, while the previous day’s fog had inspired lots of poetic mind-wanderings, the fourth day’s fog just made me a little lethargic.  That didn’t keep me from improving on my noodle recipe by adding sweet potato, kale, and sesame leaves, of course. After lunch, I decided to hang my hammock amongst the pines, but realized I had left some crucial ropes attached to trees at the park from night two. I was thus forced to engineer an emergency hammock setup by using the carrying straps from my pannier bag. It didn’t look good, but it got the job done.  When I woke up from my nap, I hit the road again, stopping only to fix an unfortunate second flat tire, this time on the rear wheel.  Then the normal routine – back to the road, stop for dinner, pig out. The restaurant was nice and quiet so I asked if I could stay and charge my computer, and voila, the neighbors had wireless, so I was able to upload blog 1 and also get my first facebook fix in four days.  While it felt good to see that all my friend are still alive and well, the experience was mostly underwhelming and I concluded that I spend way too much time on that website. Since I had gotten some internet time in, and, again, since I wasn’t much dirtier that night than I had been the night before, I opted to keep riding and find a beach to sleep on.  Unfortunately, the waves were high and the beaches were small and the best I could do was to sleep on the concrete at the harbor, which scared me a bit because I’ve seen too many (fictional) movies about North Korean refugees getting smuggled through harbors, then stabbing their guards and everyone else in sight and running free into society. Needless to say, there were no such fiascos and I slept fine regardless…    
Lunch in the forest.
 Much better this time around!

Have I cycled out of the real world and into Super Mario Land?

 AKA Yangyang, which still sounds like something out of Super Mario.

Need I say it again?
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4 Responses to Days 2-4, or, Up the East Coast

  1. Jepu says:

    Very nice! I should do a blog that follows your ride, only I’ll catalog my journey learning Korean. Day 1: learn the alphabet. I’ve got it about 95% down. Allowed me to be amused that the Korean on the sign saying “Asian Highway” actually just phonetically spelled “Asian Highway.”

  2. Mike says:

    Totally. Country names are a good way to practice reading, since most are the same. 그리스, 이탈리아, 캐나다, 스페인, 프랑스, 러시아, 인다, 라오스, 베트남. Next are foods: 핫도그, 와인, 콜라, 쵸콜렛….Sounds like you’ll be repeating my entries from 2006!

  3. me says:

    Haha, well I’m not quite there yet. I’m basically taking the next month or so to start learning and see how I like it, and see if it’s really something I might want to give up my LA life for. But who knows…

  4. Anonymous says:

    vicariously enjoying your life and adventures in kr!