Gongju, Korea - June 20, 2015
Guess you saw from the Spot that I am in Gongju which means that the bike is now running well. That extra day in Incheon was well worth it. I found a nice shaded area under the trees near the hotel and set up shop. Just took my time going through everything, replacing parts with the new ones I had obtained in Vancouver. All in all, a very peaceful and satisfying morning. I measured up the old coils and sure enough one was dead. The other, well who knows. But the ignition problems seem to be a thing of the past now, and so that is all that matters.
I have to admit, that the ride from Incheon to Gongju yesterday was quite the grunt. Just the price one pays to see the more beautiful parts of Korea I guess. I wanted to make sure that there were no real bike issues and so rode around the island for good hour... probably closer to two, before heading for the ferry. There are two expressways off the island to the mainland, but motorcycles are excluded (as are electric cars). So my only way off was by a small ferry. Just finding the ferry was pretty tough.
The airport island reminds me a lot of Florida. Miles and miles of empty development - empty highrises with many more going up and numerous roads to nowhere. Miles of roads are just blocked off... maybe so they don't have to be maintained. It looks like the banks were happy to lend for construction, but not for operation. Well, that's pretty common isn't it? Anyway, the GPS was having fits trying to sort it all out. After being temporarily diverted onto a stretch of highway clearly marked "Motorcycles Prohibited", I saw a sign to Gueup Pier. Not knowing if that was anywhere near where I wanted to go or not, I figured that a pier was by definition closer to the kind of place I wanted to be more than an expressway was. So I headed there. Got close and caught a ferry terminal out of the corner of my eye, so it was a good guess.
Unfortunately, not being allowed on the expressway meant not being able to use the expressway to get clear of Seoul. For that, I had to pick my way through city streets. That ordeal was made worse by the fact that power to the GPS was getting glitchy, causing the GPS to constantly reboot and making it lose it's thought. Could only fix that by pulling the plug and run on battery, which only gave me a limited period of good information. But gratefully, the traffic was surprisingly good. Jam-packed and total stop and go, but the drivers were all decent.
Driving in Korea is nowhere near the nightmare I was led to believe it would be. Drivers are polite, signal and have strong concept of lanes. The only thing to watch for is in quieter areas where red lights seem to be more advisory than anything else. Anyway, it was a 7-hour hot drive to Gongju, only the last hour where I could get up to posted speeds and get a breeze through my jacket. Nice cooling via a totally soaked shirt.
In retrospect, the most exhausting part was driving through Incheon City and the whole stretch to Suwon and beyond, where all of the buildings are plastered top to bottom with advertising. The advertising is virtually all text, all large, bold fonts. You have to wonder whether advertising really works when there is so much of it, but you know, being surrounded by that is just a constant mental assault. Those cities would be so much more beautiful if that was off the walls. Imagine driving for hours where EVERYONE IS SCREAMING AT YOU IN CAPS! I can't imagine living in that environment every day. It must drive one nuts. And so fixable.
But Gonju is a cute place. Cute enough that I decided to spend a day exploring. Used to be the Bekje capital during the Three Kingdoms period back around the 600's to 800's or so. Unfortunately, the Bekje got wiped... and then there were two. Did a lot of walking around today and was shown around some of the royal tombs by Kim, a very nice lady who was there as a volunteer tour guide. Kim is 65 and is looking for a man just like me. Well rather, exactly like me. I could only get her off that direct thought-track by telling her that I was married and that my wife was very jealous. The jealous part seemed to work. But she took my number and email and insisted that she is coming to Canada and that I am to introduce her to some friends. She is looking for someone 65-ish and intelligent. Preferably a doctor or professor. So if anyone knows anyone who fits the bill, please let me know because I have no doubt that Kim will be a-callin'.
I fixed the GPS issue, and after seeing the fortress at the top of the hill in the morning, I'll be headed off south tomorrow. Looking to do some camping, but that may be a day or two down the road since it is now raining. Not quite enough to clean the air, but just enough to make it muggier. It's not so hot, but still very sticky and smoggy even down here.
Anyway, I found a very nice Korean-Western fusion restaurant today, sandwiches filled with Korean fare. I had a vegetable toast, with I think was a kimchi pancake topped with vegetables and a hot pepper sauce. It really was tasty. But I was reminded while reading their menu that details matter. One of their main seafood features, right there in big letters and a picture, is their famous Crap Classic. Think I'll stick with the veggies if you don't mind.