How do I even begin to describe today?
We broke three of the fundamental rules of backpacking:
- Trust your gut
- Do not split up
- Do not take rides from strangers… especially if you are female and the driver is male
We broke all three rules, and it sure was an experience.
I want to preface this story by letting all you readers know that I am tired and confused… So if this post doesn’t live up to my usual refined masterpiece then don’t be too concerned.
Let’s jump back to Monday morning in Seoul. Louise had spent the night prior reading up on everything Seoul-related. Our trampled tourist map was marked with all the must-sees, from museums to temples to parks. However, with only half a day to spend we decided to take a hurried trip to the National museum.
We rushed through all the interesting exhibits, trying to learn everything we could within the limited time. We learnt that:
- There are ten kings of hell in Buddhism
- There are multiple types of Korean tombs
- Ancient Koreans are really good at making roof tiles
- Korea was split into three kingdoms and the unified Silla
- Calligraphy was a highly regarded art form, which I want to learn
There was also a special exhibit happening, which we were lucky enough to see. It was all about ancient Egypt, and had a special focus on mummification. There were numerous mummified animals… Yes, basically any animal: beetles, crocodiles, and cats.
After lunch we headed on our merry way to collect our bags from the hostel. We had planned on taking a taxi to our new WWOOF host, but could not find any that would take us so far… Turns out you shouldn’t rely on Google all that much. What we had thought would be an hour’s trip turned into about three. Did we learn anything from our last failed commute? We learnt that having at least one working phone was useful… Apart from that, no.
We were dropped off outside a very religious looking community, where our host met us. She prepared ramen and kimchi for us and we took a shower. It turns out we have to be out of the house by Thursday, despite prior arrangement. We took this news well, although later agreeing that it simply was not okay.
After finishing our ramen we headed to bed, in a room which we share with a 94 year old woman. The lovely lady greeted us kindly and enthusiastically as we walked in and yet again a few minutes later, and yet again at around midnight. In the morning we find out that she has dementia, but is otherwise very healthy for her age and enjoys helping with the dishes and cooking her own meals.
Day 20 commences:
We wake up at eight, and head to the local high school cafeteria for an interesting breakfast experience. Unlike our western-style breakfasts, there were all sorts of warm foods – the strangest of which was a hotdog with strawberries and ketchup… although strange, this combination actually seemed to work!
After breakfast, Louise and I go for a walk around the community. There is a high school, elementary school, and a middle school, all which seem to be run by the church. As we walk, I begin to think about how seemingly perfect this place is – there are geese and rabbits, organic vegetable patches, etc.
We also ran into two of the happiest dogs, and the young female Golden Retriever had a great time with my scarf…
At around 10am, the host father comes to collect us. We had been informed by the mother, that we would be going somewhere about 20 minutes away. We are ushered into a car, and in that car we spend the next three hours. As you could probably imagine, anxious little me is a total wreck of nerves. Everything seemed absolutely wrong; we could barely speak to the two men and we barely even knew who they were.
After a few hours of convincing, I was calmed down. We knew that one of the men was our host, and we knew that these people have had over 100 WWOOFers in the past…
At hour three, we meet the owner of an organic pear farm and have an awesome Korean lunch; with all the good stuff, that I don’t know the name of. We then drive to his farm, where we get to taste his delicious Asian pear juice, as well as try the fresh pears. I tell you, these pears are like a little piece of Heaven – so subtle in taste yet so, so sweet. After a few hours of wandering around the barren, winter orchard, we climb back into the car and begin the long journey back.
Four hours of driving is enough for Louise and I to decide to change our plans… Maybe we will say goodbye to South Korea earlier than expected?