The good the bad and the funny
Samcheok Travel Blog› entry 295 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Andee aka travbuddy "eejot" (England)
I arrived into Samcheok a little after 18.00 and noticed some white guy on the bus next to me, that i thought could well be travbuddy Andee (eejot), who i was supposed to be meeting a little bit later, but decided that he wasn't scheduled in for another 30 minutes and put it out of my mind. The reason that i came to Samcheok was to meet the above mentioned travbuddy and also to use it as a base to visit the nearby tourist attractions. I had decided more specifically on the place as it had the cheapest accomodation within a 100 mile radius! Or so i thought...
Wandering out of the bus station, i decided to ask an old Korean guy who was walking my way, whether he could point me in the general direction of the hotel i wanted to stay at.
Over the next 10 minutes he went from pillar to post, asking anyone who would listen, where there was a room for 15,000 won ($15), which was the same price as i had been hoping to pay in the original hotel. Eventually we were pointed down the road, only to find that this establishment had suffered a similar fate.
My hopes soon picked up however, as the man began banging on a basement door that was eventually opened by some friendly looking lady.
Back on the street i told the man i would be heading back to the bus station and from there i would find a hotel, but thanks for all the help and the molestation! Arriving at the bus station for the second time, 45 minutes after having first left, and still with all my bags, i was delighted to see Andee and we immediately hit it off on our way to get me checked into a hotel.
His Korean skills are actually quite nifty from what i could tell, so he made the arrangements for my hotel room with the receptionist, who presumably got the wrong idea that we were checking into a double room together and seemed a bit moody with the scenario. After Andee explained that i would be the only guest in the double bed, his mood seemed to somewhat lighten, although i was beginning to think i'd walked into some warped parallel universe!
My $30 room was very nice, with the shower and my razor now just crying out to be used, but i didn't want to keep Andee waiting and decided that he would have to put up with my appearances and smell.
The meal itself was fantastic and for anyone not knowing what a Korean barbeque entails, it goes a little like this: You have a fire ring in the centre of the table with a hot plate and then you fry your own meat on it. Once cooked, you take a lettuce leaf, stick some meat, maybe some rice, some sauce, some beanshoots or just generally anything you fancy into it, wrap it up and shove the whole thing in your mouth.
The company wasn't too shabby either and i enjoyed the humour and banter that passed between us. I don't think a lot of people get English humour, but i'll let you know, its your loss ;) We discussed travelling, girlfriends, football, drinking, Korean lifestyle and a whole lot of nothing to be honest, but it was good just to have a bloke around to have a laugh with, after been mostly on my own for the last few days. 3 hours seemed to pass pretty quickly and it was a shame that i had chosen to stay in Samcheok, as Andee had to travel home to neighbouring Donghue on the last bus at 22.00. The irony of it was that i had passed through his town and the accomodation as it turned out would actually have been cheaper there, than where i was staying, but you win some, you lose some i guess!
The following day i had my alarm set for 08.
12.35 and i was in the bus station and hoping to fulfill my plan of action for the day, all be it belatedly. I showed the name of the first place i wanted to go, to the lady at the ticket counter, she pointed to the wall showing 5 or 6 times of buses, the 2 that stood out read: 12.25 and 14.30. Oh. I looked at their return times, which read 16.35 and 18.30. "When is the last bus to Busan?" was met with "17.15", which i followed up with "What time does the 16.35 arrive into Samcheok"... "17.25" Hmmm, by my calculations that means there's no way to get there and back and make it to Busan. Wonderful. Ok, i didn't want to be downbeat, there was still the Unification Park that i wanted to see and looking at my map that was only about 30kms North. The woman had never heard of it, so i went to the tourism office.
"The Unification Park sir? Hmm, let me call someone" was the first response i got at the office. A few minutes later i was handed the phone and was speaking to a woman who informed me that to get to the unification park, i would have to travel around 60kms north and then catch a bus across town and then another bus 30kms south, back towards where I had just come from to reach where i wanted to go. I sheepishly questioned how long this would take by bus and was informed at least 2 hours both ways. The woman could hear my defeated sigh and cheerily asked "Are you on your own?"... "Yes"... I guess she expected a different answer, as i heard her audibly sigh too! Whatever plan she had thought of, she didn't even bother putting to me once i had said the dreaded "yes" word. I left the office trying to smile, but wanting to scream and i think the 2 nice girls in there could tell, but when i heard "have a nice day" come floating from behing me, i had to smile :) You see thats the thing with Koreans, they all seem so nice and helpful and if something bad happens there's usually one there to do something nice or help you out the very next second.
I took a 20 minute walk around the town trying to clear my head. Did i catch the 14.30 to the cave i wanted to see and not go to Busan, or did i take the 14.00 bus to Busan? I had to arrange my Chinese visa there and the thought of any mishaps with that scared me into the latter option. Just a brief note about Samcheok though, the place was full of cherry blossom trees that had all come into season. As the wind blew a gentle breeze and the petals began to fall, it made it look like it was snowing. It was a really beautiful site and again something that made me take stock and realise that i haven't got such a bad life :D