Seoul, Korea - June 15, 2015
I am now safely settled down in Seoul awaiting my meeting this evening with Wendy Choi, the lady who is handling all the import and insurance paperwork for the bike. I am to wear my yellow shirt and meet her at exit 8, line 2 at Sinchon Station, 7 PM... with the passphrase "May the Bird of Paradise squat on your Easter egg". Actually, that last part I just made up.
I have to say that getting here was not entirely smooth and uneventful. The ride to Vancouver went well, but the next morning, as I was leaving downtown and headed to Pacific MotoSports, the guys who were going to crate the bike, the bike would not start. It would crank fine, but not fire. Very strange behavior for it. I had been running on the reserve fuel for a while the day before, but after adding a bit of gas, that was clearly not the issue. No spark. Fiddled with some of the ignition wiring under the fuel tank and got it going only to have it die again just as I was pulling into PMS's (?) parking lot. Then it started up again.
But that was only the least of my problems, since after a personal visit, several emails and a follow-up phone call, I go in to the office to let them know that I am there with the bike, only to have them say that they have never heard of me... and won't be able to crate the bike until July. I'll spare the details, but we do get something sorted out. They're to have the bike prepped, put on a pallet and wrapped by 1:00 the next day, because the shipper, who is to pick the bike up. is working to his own set of time constraints with the airlines, etc. Anyway, to make a long story short, it's not ready on time and when it finally is, PMS has done nothing but strap it to an oversized pallet. Well oversize means mega extra shipping costs, so the shipper's estimate goes out the window. The shipper is pissed off on my behalf to PMS, and then when he tells me what's up, I get pissed on my own behalf. Anyway... it's coming to Korea, via a 787 Dreamliner, Tuesday. Geez, at what it's costing, I hope it gets one of those comfy seats up front!
So I thought about the ignition issue and think that it may be ignition coils. It has a dual/redundant system, and my suspicion is that one of the coils has been dead for a while and the second is now going flaky. I really should have checked before leaving home. But I picked up two coils in Vancouver and brought them with me (wonder what they thought those were in my bags on Xray) as there was no time to do any trouble shooting in Vancouver. I have spares of everything important and will get it working well, before heading out.
Very hot and muggy in Seoul and I'm working off my jet lag. So a lazy day. Sorted out the train and subway system, how to buy a transit card, add money to it, get around and so on. You don't see a lot of English anywhere but just enough to get by. If you look closely at the ATM's or similar, there is usually a small English button somewhere... although you may not know it's an ATM machine until you go up and inspect it closely. Nothing in English announcing that it is what it is.
So a couple of interesting observations so far... 1) the traffic is not as bad as I was led to believe by what I've read. All quite organized, no driving on the sidewalks or any of that stuff so far. There are police everywhere though... often six or more on a corner. Don't know if that has a chilling effect on rogue activity or not. It will be interesting to see what it's like out in the countryside. And 2), very surprisingly, I do not think I have seen one person smoking! Nada. Now maybe one doesn't have to because one only needs to breathe the air, but I find it very odd. It is quite smoggy and hazy here (maybe just this week), and I guess no more so than Toronto in the summer, humid heat. But I expected to see smoking everywhere like in most of Europe or even on the streets of Kamloops. Well, if it's due to some campaign or tax structure, it's working.
Off to sightsee a bit tomorrow, (Tuesday for me) then I check out of here and move to a hotel on the airport island. Although Wendy has done the paper work, I will have to get the bike through customs myself. An all-day procedure (Wednesday)... or maybe that's just a story as well. Then Thursday, take a small ferry off the island and start seeing Korea. No plans, but I think I will head south!