Andong to Sangju

Andong is the start of the Nakdong River section of the Four Rivers Cycle Path. This path forms part of the Seoul to Busan ride that I was originally going to do here in Korea before I got side tracked. I was pleasantly surprised that the certification center at Andong Dam had passports for sale so I bought one as a souvenir.

The moonlight bridge near the dam is the longest wooden bridge in Korea. Even on an overcast day it is beautiful. I walk across the bridge to stand under the autumn coloured trees on the other side. A woman asks me to speak with her ten-year-old daughter who has to interview someone in English for a school assignment. The girl was small and shy. At first she didn’t even want to look at me because she was so embarrassed. So I knelt down to her height and tapped on her shoulder. “Anyonghaseyo” I said smiling. “I only know two Korean words: anyonghaseyo and komapsumnida” I said, nodding at her mother to translate. The little girl giggled a little and turned halfway around to see who this strange person was who couldn’t even speak Korean. “My name is Andrew. What is your name?” I said slowly to her. And there it was … the ice was broken and she was curious now. With her mother filming the interaction on her mobile phone (a Samsung of course) the little girl asked me some questions including what my favourite place in Korea is (the answer was Yangyang and Andong), where I am from (Australia) and what my favourite Korean food is (my response of fried chicken brought a big smile). The girl was from Gumi and went to an English language institute there. She introduced me to her father who works in a company (that is how she described he works in an office) but is a mountain rescue instructor too. Her father is clearly where the girl gets her shyness from so the mother explained that he was going to travel to Australia soon to teach a mountain rescue course. It’s spontaneous situations like this that make me wonder why so many people are xenophobic. After-all, we are all just people who happen to speak different languages or have different customs. And it confirmed to me that children all over the world are going to be our global future in tomorrow’s connected world.

Andong is famous for it’s traditional masks and the annual mask festival (which I missed by only a week). I pass the mask park along the cycle path and have fun posing with the various masks and like the way they are specifically set up for photos.

I end the day in a pagoda on an island in the middle of the river near Sangju. I reach it by crossing a small bridge. I fall asleep listening to fish jumping in the water and wake to hear a flautist’s music emanating from somewhere in the woods on the opposite bank.

7 thoughts on “Andong to Sangju

  1. I totally agree about the xenophobia thing. I live in a very multicultural suburb and I really enjoy the diversity of culture and the interactions with strangers. We have a lot of refugees here who have been through a great deal of trauma. I was in a park recently and I tentatively commented on an African woman’s adorable baby. She beamed at me and said I could hold him if I wanted to. She didn’t speak a great deal of English but we managed to still communicate. The fact that she trusted me enough to offer me her child to hold made me a little teary actually.

    A great read, Andrew and lovely pics. πŸ™‚

    • It saddens me so much when people from home who are my Facebook friends are xenophobic and post racist or scaremongering things. I want to shake them and ask why they are the way they are. How beautiful about holding the baby. My daughter-in-law is Sudanese. She came to Australia when she was 12. I can’t imagine what her family have been through.

  2. The negative postings about a lot of topics affected me so greatly I stopped being active on my account a few months ago. It made me too angry and sad. I still check it from time to time to check that loved ones are doing okay. It’s very tricky as you don’t want to lose touch with people but at the same time the current Internet environment has been very inflammatory and I am sensitive to injustice. We have a large Sudanese community in my suburb and yes, the stories I am being told about what they witnessed and suffered are horrific. I’m glad your daughter-in-law is safe in our country!

    • I am considering unfriending a few people on my Facebook due to their negativity. Most of my friends are really good but there are a couple who are old acquaintences from school or other places who I don’t know whether I want to retain in my life due to their small-minded world views.

  3. As always, I love reading your post!
    Your story about the interview in English with the little girl was delightful.
    I totally understand how you feel about changing from rural cycling to being on the current cycle ‘highway’. As well as in the car, I get that feeling when transitioning from bush walking on the earthen tracks to walking on boardwalk/planking. Just not the same. Especially when you’re wearing hiking boots!
    : )

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