For the harvest festival of Cheusok (September 14-16, 2016) a large part of the 10 million inhabitants of Seoul travel back to their ancestral home towns in the rural parts of the country, making public transportation a nightmare. Even trains and buses sometimes sell out in advance of the holiday. So the group decided that the best strategy to avoid mass transit during peak holiday time was to get a ride down to the beach city of Busan in the south, and ride north back to Seoul. David and Emily had arranged for a truck to pick up all seven of our bicycles to drive them across the country to Busan, and we’d head down via the speedy bullet train known as the KTX. The bikes were strapped down to a little bongo truck and we waved goodbye to them. It was really happening now! The air was festive and the weather was not unbearably hot as it had been just before I arrived. Tunes was technically supposed to be in a carrier, but I was packing light(ish), so Emily let me borrow her over-the-shoulders wool Kodi-carrier bag and a long, light purple scarf to drape covertly over my pooch. It was around a two hour ride, and we reached speeds of almost 300km/hour (186 mph) as we careened through the Korean countryside. Tunes was a perfect stowaway, just as she’d been stealthy on the plane.
And so the Magnicicent Seven +1 began our trek. Alyssa and her husband Tyge, who both had helped me out greatly upon my arrival by settling my cab fare, had set out a day earlier for the beach. Emily, David, Mindi, Jim, Petunia, the aforementioned +1, and I were on our way to join them for our cross-Korean trip.
Heading to board the train like a bunch of bosses!
Once in Busan, we found our hotel, and the bike truck showed up pretty soon after that. They were mostly in tact, although the rivets that held on one of Tunes’s sun shade poles had failed. Luckily I have an external buckling belt around it to help hold it down for now. I’d found the blue and orange belt on the side of the road attached to an abandoned life jacket during my first tour scavenger and make-doer that I am. This trip has made me realize just how much her carrier and my bike have gone through, after months of touring and thousands of miles. They’re both starting to show som serious signs of wear and an embarrassing lack of maintenance. After seeing my new bike friends so lovingly care for their rigs with such zeal and savvy, I felt a bit underwhelmed with my own skills and attention to the machine that was making this all possible.
Our first group outing was nothing less than superb. We walked down to a beachside burger place for some Western fare where all of the staff spoke petty good English, which wasn’t alway the case in Seoul. Without a squid or a soju in sight, we downed some American grub and headed out for a night beach visit before retiring in advance of our big day.
Song of the day: All Aboard by Muddy Waters