I wake to the sound of rain beating down on the roof of the pagoda. I roll over and go back to sleep because I know it’s my final night in the comfort of my tent. Besides, the pagoda is doing a good job keeping everything dry so I won’t have to worry about everything being wet when I pack. Out on the cyclepath all is soaked. The wind is blowing and puddles have formed.
A sign tells me it’s only 60km to the end of the cycleway in Busan. This is the last time that I’ll pass a distance sign to Busan because I am about to make a silly navigational error. But I don’t know my mistake yet. I am just enjoying the sights, including these delicious looking fruits growing on path-side trees. I ride up a beautiful misty hill still trying to make the ground match my map. I know I need to climb a mountain but this is nowhere near as steep as the one I am meant to be climbing. It is also twisting in the wrong direction; I should be heading back towards the river not circling around that mountain to my east. But I am too stubborn or stupid to go back.
I reach Gimhae where I hit the CVS and eat a microwave hamburger, two Kit Kats, a fried chicken leg, a can of Gatorade and a pineapple Fanta. It’s just what I need. I navigate the city traffic past the airport and across Nakdonggang where a some rowers are training. It’s a delight to watch. I don’t row but I love watching rowers do their thing. It’s that balance of raw power, balance and timing that combines perfectly to make the boat move poetically across the water.
If I thought Seoul was big then Busan is ginormous. It took me 33km to get from my pagoda to Busan and then another 30km to get from Gupo to my hostel. And I didn’t even make it all the way to Haundae Beach. The traffic was manic but I fought my way through it, stopping ocassionally for more food when my body bonked.
I find a hostel online and make a beeline there. I find the alley in which the hostel is supposed to be located and suddenly feel overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. A man calls out, “hey are you looking for the hostel?”. I wouldn’t have found the place if I’d been left to my own devices. The guy leads me up the lift to the fourth floor of the building where I can park my bike. For just 13,000 won ($AU/US13) I get a bed in a dorm for most of the week. I can’t stay Saturday night because there is a festival but I can leave my bike and luggage at this hostel while I stay elsewhere for the night. All this is organised while I drink an ice cold glass of water, have access to an English language newspaper and wifi. It’s relaxed and friendly, just what I need.
The dorm is comfortable too. It’s located nearby in a separate building where a Korean home has been turned into shared guest accommodation. There’s bread in the fridge to make unlimited amounts of toast, butter and jam in the welcome pack, Busan city tourist maps and plenty of towels. This will be home for almost all my final week here in Korea. The cycling is over so now it’s time to relax, find a box in which to take my bicycle home and check out this one last city.