Exploring Daegu (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

Today was my final day in Daegu. I have been here for almost a week. I have heard some locals and travelers alike express surprise at my staying in this city for so long because apparently there is nothing to do here. But I have enjoyed hanging out here. I’ve developed a pleasant routine of sitting in the hostel common room working and chatting in the mornings before going out for lunch and a short walk, eating ice cream, relaxing in my room and then going out again for dinner. I’ve had the privilege of spending time with some locals who have told me something of their lives and the work of the Empathy organisation.
 photo IMG_2663_zps60dd18cd.jpg
 photo IMG_2664_zps4b92a953.jpg
Today I decided to forgo work and the routine to do a little sightseeing. I started with Gyeongsang Gamyong Park, which is located near the hostel. Many people were sitting here enjoying the sunshine. The park is home to some brightly painted pagodas and buildings. I know it has historic significance but the signs I saw were in Korean. So I just enjoyed the visual experience.
 photo IMG_2666_zps5b397e11.jpg
A trip down handmade shoe street followed. I admired the handcrafted leather footwear through the shop windows as the sound of small hammers hitting nails and sewing machines stitching leather rings gently through the air.
 photo IMG_2672_zps185b258c.jpg
 photo IMG_2673_zps215e1a3a.jpg
My walk takes me through Daegus more industrial streets. Here you can buy everything from electric drills to small motors. Each tiny shop is crammed full of items, leaving the shop keepers to sit out on the footpath waiting for customers.
 photo IMG_2678_zps260b1724.jpg
I find myself at Dalseong Park. There is a pagoda up on a hill.
 photo IMG_2675_zps9a27ac7f.jpg
And a sort of miniature zoo where animals from all over the world are kept in small cages. This vulture is huge and keeps charging the people looking at it. I feel a bit sad for the animals; not in a judgemental way but just because I think it must be boring to be wild but caged.
 photo IMG_2679_zpsa4a19cc2.jpg
Small school children play on the grass as teachers watch vigilently. Some teachers wear small microphones like those used by tour guides so their class can hear them. The uniforms vary from sporty to cute little suits and ties worn by five and six year olds. But no matter the uniform, one thing is the same: the brightly coloured shoes.
 photo IMG_2680_zps8ab57a0e.jpg
There are a couple of bonsaied trees. This photo is for my friend who loves bonsai.
 photo IMG_2683_zps5fa646cc.jpg
My next stop is the Seomun Market where clothes, traditional medicines, groceries and street food are sold at small stalls, many of which are marked by brightly coloured umbrellas. Old women fall asleep at their stalls while middle aged women work hard to entice customers to their’s. The enticement here is not pushy and rude like in some other countries. Rather, it is courteous and apologetic; always with the promise of a free taste and discounted price.
 photo IMG_2684_zps79eb67cf.jpg
It’s lunch time and I like street food so I start with a piece of fried squid and a piece of fried sweet potato. I take my place at the stools and use the cooking cart as a table.
 photo IMG_2685_zps4cd05cda.jpg
A fishcake on a stick is next. I have seen these being sold all over the countyr and finally decided to try one. These are boiled in a broth so they look less enticing than the fried foods. The taste is quite good but it is a little more bland than my pallet is used to. I eat the stick dipped in a soy, sesame and chili sauce while standing at the food cart; the lady vendor fussing over me and smiling.
 photo IMG_2686_zps849ce10e.jpg
Finally I buy a deepfried hot dog sausage with tomato ketchup. It’s a familiar flavour and can be eaten while walking.
 photo IMG_2687_zps64ef3243.jpg
And I leave you with this photo of the entrails. There are a few stalls selling them but I’m not sure how to ask for them to be cooked so I can’t buy any; or at last that’s my excuse.

I buy some groceries for my departure tomorrow. I end my day by patching a tube on one of the bikes here at the hostel. One of the hosts asked whether I minded giving it a go seeings as I am a cyclist. It was a nice quiet way to spend the afternoon patching the tube and chatting to the hostel hosts.

A night out in Daegu (Geonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_20141017_001740_zpsdl6sznwa.jpg
Rene the Swiss cyclist who I met in Seoul happened to turn up at the same hostel as I am staying at here in Daegu. So what else do you do when a fellow cyclist comes to town? Why you go out to eat food and drink beer. And that’s what we did.
 photo IMG_20141017_001951_zpswmpn55bp.jpg
We started with makchang, a delicacy here in Daegu that consists of pig’s intestines cooked on a coal grill at your table. When raw it looks rather graphic.
 photo IMG_20141017_001415_zpszbndjcg6.jpg
But then you (or, if you are a foreigner who seems to lack suitable BBQ experience, your host) cooks it up at the table until it looks just like any other sort of fried meat. You dip the fried intestines in a delicious sauce, place it on a lettuce leaf, add marinated bean sprouts, raw garlic slices, onion and this delicous paste, roll the leaf and eat. I was sceptical at first but found it to be one of the most delicous Korean foods I have eaten so far.
 photo IMG_20141017_001850_zpsapy1vej0.jpg
After makchang we wandered around a little while looking for a bar where we could drink a beer. It seems these are few and far between in Korea. Don’t get me wrong, you can pretty much buy beer anywhere. But usually it’s sold at restaurants where they also sell food. And being from Australia and Switzerland we are more used to bars where you just buy a drink. Eventually we found a place. They brought us our beers and then a big bowl of buttered popcorn. I found that very random but also very tasty.

Women in war photo exhibition in Daegu (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_2669_zpsb6e80890.jpg
I knew the Women in War photo collection as part of the 2014 Bienniel Photography Exhibition would be moving. Jane from the hostel had told me about it after we spoke the other day and she suggested I might be interested to see it. But I wasn’t quite prepared for how deeply it would touch me. So I will just share with you the thoughts I wrote as I stood there in the gallery:
 photo IMG_2670_zpsbecbb453.jpg
Extraordinary photography. Some haunting others stunning. The contrast between the horrors of war and magical colours makes it all the more harrowing. I wonder how I could ever return to the life I once had after seeing all that I have seen this past year already.

There is no rushing here. No glory to be seen. Just the cold realities of war through the lenses of female photographers. The exhibition makes me more sure that all who can should travel to cure their minds of hatred based on fear. For pain and loss are human experiences, not something any group owns exclusively. No matter the side, the flag, the religion, the race or the gender: tears mean sadness, blood means pain and death is forever.

The exhibition ebbs and flows. From the jungles of Vietnam to the soldiers of the Balkans. From death in Africa to uncertainty in the Middle East. A female US marine plays with a child and mothers try to maintain normality in Afghanistan. Acid violence disfigures faces and women are taken to “comfort” men.

Humanity on display both in and out of the photos. An older Korean man sits crying openly. Young couples move slowly with reverance. A teenage girl touches her mother’s shoulder. A raw heart wrenching exhibition not to be missed and from which I pray we will all learn.

Baseball in Daegu (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_20141015_171007_zpsgzwfhrf2.jpg
I had been told that Koreans love baseball and that attending a game here is a must do experience. So in Andong I checked the game roster and noticed that the season was coming to a close with just one week left to play. There would be no games once I got to Busan but there were still two games to be played in Daegu. Foreigners cannot buy tickets online in Korea. You must either make a phone booking or turn up at the gate an hour before the game and hope there is a ticket available. So while I was here at the hostel I asked whether someone could phone the stadium to organise me a ticket and, guess what. There was only one ticket available in the whole stadium and I got it.
 photo IMG_2593_zps80a3f478.jpg
I was told my seat would be the worst seat in the house and this was correct. I was behind a post so I had to lean sideways to see the batter
 photo IMG_2591_zps6ff062d3.jpg
But who cares. I was at the baseball in Korea. And I bought a Samsung Lions baseball cap to commemorate my first ever baseball game (ever).
 photo IMG_2594_zps7bec5499.jpg
Crowds of people thronged outside waiting to enter the stadium.
 photo IMG_2592_zps83eddfa0.jpg
As fried chicken vendors hawked their food. And what delicious food it was too.
 photo IMG_2597_zps60b61b26.jpg
The super cute mascotts supervised the players’ warm ups.
 photo IMG_2610_zps1474316a.jpg
A white coated choir sang the national anthum.
 photo IMG_2611_zpsf12c15c2.jpg
And then the first pitch of the game was thrown. Little did I know that this would be the start of the game that sealed the penant championship for the home team: Samsung Lions.
 photo IMG_2599_zps8f637add.jpg
 photo IMG_2600_zpse9dddf4d.jpg
 photo IMG_2653_zps36903565.jpg
So I’m no baseball nut and the game is a little too slow and tactical for me to imagine ever becoming totally enthralled in it as a sport. But boy is attendance at a game a wonderful spectacle and something I will certainly try to do again when I travel in other baseball mad countries. I don’t know whether any mascotts will ever match up to the cute Samsung Lions with their grinning faces and cheeky skipping-style running.
 photo IMG_2612_zpsab50389e.jpg
In the next stand a cheer leader encouraged the crowd to engage in choreographed cheering. Before the game started he went onto his little stage and gave instructions. The crowd were encouraged to practice and practice they did. During the game choreographed dancing, cheering and singing reverberated around the ground as the cheer leader did his thing. Might I add that from my vantage point in the cheap seats his dancing looked rather camp with his hip swinging, arm waving and butt jiggling.
 photo IMG_2618_zps3869084a.jpg
Naturally there were also scantily clad cheer girls for the (mostly male) crowd’s entertainment.
 photo IMG_2640_zps96be5174.jpg
But the girls were not without their eye candy either. Every time this player (number 7 from Samsung Lions) came out to bat the girls and women in the crowd went wild. I was sitting next to two teenage girls who fell into fits of adolescent giggles whenever he came on and they took many photos of him with their phones, resulting in more embarrassed adolescent giggling.
 photo IMG_2616_zps30a20db8.jpg
In the good seats spectators had tables on which they ate whole meals of rice, pizza and fried chicken washed down with copius cans of beer. Beer is a big thing here in Korea. When you buy fried chicken they give you a can and people carry whole cases into the stadium to share with their friends. There was even a beer sculling competition between the fifth and sixth innings, which was shown on the big screen. Three men went head to head to see who could scull a mug the fastest.
 photo IMG_2628_zps4a42094b.jpg
The game itself was a thriller with Samsung going up 3-0 at the bottom of the third inning and the opposition figthing back with a home run at the top of the sixth and then two at the top of the seventh inning, tying the score at three home runs each at the top of the eight. The Samsung pitcher held the opposition at bay in the eighth …
 photo IMG_2638_zpsc5af98fd.jpg
And I found myself going wild with the crowd at the bottom of the eight when Samsung scored two more home runs. All that was left to do was for Samsung to despatch of the opposition’s batters without score in the ninth inning. We were all at the edge of our seats … well, actually, everyone was standing with breath held.
 photo IMG_2641_zpsb4afc56f.jpg
 photo IMG_2657_zps29f3e51b.jpg
And as the final batter was struck out … the crowd went wild, the players ran onto the field and a fireworks display burst out from behind the scoreboard.
 photo IMG_2652_zps1cc742c7.jpg
 photo IMG_2659_zps446f21cb.jpg
The Samsung Lions had won the penant race championship in a thrilling game.

As for me … I have yet another amazing memory of my time in Korea. I have to shout out to Julian the German I met in Seoul who is traveling the world watching soccer matches. If I hadn’t gone to the Asian Games with him I probably wouldn’t have thought to try to go to the baseball game. And what an experience I would have missed.

Chilling in Daegu (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_20141014_141254_zps7leyzgcz.jpg
I have decided to have a change of pace to my travels here in Korea. After a couple of weeks spent riding the north-eastern mountains and coasts it’s time to slow down and take in city life in Daegu and then Busan. I still have another 11 full days before I fly home and I intend to spend them chilling out, finalising two university papers that are due and generally eating a lot of food that is probably not good for me. So here is my first day in Daegu: a city I could easily get used to.
 photo 20141013_194626_zps0vw52mia.jpg
It started well on Monday night after I arrived when I caught the subway halfway across town to meet a local Korean guy to learn more about the local way of life. He is a similar age as me, works in the civil service and speaks excellent English. The subway here doesn’t issue tickets for single trips, rather it issues these tokens that look like they would be more comfortable in a casino. But, as always in tourist-friendly Korea the ticket machine had an English language option. It was refreshing to spend time with a local and be able to hold a conversation without needing sign language. And maybe I have made another new friend on this adventure in the land of the morning mist.
 photo IMG_20141014_142237_zps0afszkzz.jpg
Yesterday morning I woke early despite wanting to sleep in. I was still tired after staying up well past midnight the night before and having ridden so far over the previous two days so I had a leisurely breakfast, wrote another few hundred words about ethics in education and set off to wander Daegu’s downtown. The outdoor shops were fun to walk through and it took much restraint not to buy a pair of brightly coloured hiking boots. I also visited the modern history museum, which gave me some insight into this city’s more recent history and role in Korea’s current democratic governance.
 photo 20141014_133546_zpsvphgoxvs.jpg
I am finally starting to feel more confident about buying food and have let my usual desire to be somewhat healthy drop in favour of enjoying some naughty foods. This deep fried delight of squid, sweet potato and zucchini with soup set me back just 2,500 won ($AU/US2.50). Not the sort of meal you show to your doctor but hey, my doctor is safely far away in Australia and I will deal with her later 😉 . I was only out for about three hours before fatigue won over and I made my way back to the hostel where I rented a couple of movies from iTunes and lazed in my bunk for four hours watching them.
 photo 20141014_194816_zpsoifo8rzs.jpg
The rest was just what I needed and I was ready to explore the streets again after 7.30pm. I have to admit that I love Asia’s neon nights. There’s something joyful about bright colours. Sure, it’s probably terrible for the environment and I know that it’s currently much more cool to disparage cities in favour of a night under the stars. But I can quite happily enjoy either and right now it’s the neon that is calling.
 photo 20141014_195500_zpsdiwdfqfb.jpg
As I wandered I took photos of random things I saw like this cool scooter (as a motorcyclist I never thought I’d call any scooter cool but the paint job on this one is worthy of praise).
 photo 20141014_195256_zpslb7dtv26.jpg
And these teddy bears that seem to have got lost at a coffee shop while on their way to the picnic. Or perhaps this is where teddy bears go after the picnic is over and they need a shot of caffeine before they turn into party animals. Coffee shops are plentiful in Korea and people seem genuinely surprised if you say that you do not drink the bitter black liquid.
 photo 20141014_195421_zpsvj7quoxw.jpg
Fortune tellers are also common here in Korea. I have seen their tents and tables set up in parks and city streets all over the country. Often they have young couples as clients. Here in Daegu the fortune tellers have brightly coloured shops and anyone with such interest could probably easily spend a whole week going to each different one and still not see them all.
 photo 20141014_194224_zps5pmp5vif.jpg
A street near the hostel is lined with shops selling creatively displayed Korean seafood. I am not quite sure what the significance of the shapes are or what one gets here. Do you actually buy the displayed decoration? Or a meal based on the display? Or just some fish? Whatever it is, the displays are eye catching.
 photo IMG_20141014_200821_zps1vv5xryn.jpg
Don’t tell my doctor but my diet didn’t improve on my nighttime wander. If anything it was worse because there wasn’t even any vegetable or soup involved in this 3,000 won ($AU/US3) street meal. I think it is fried chicken in a honey chili sauce. The pieces of meat were tiny but the flavour fantastic. Naturally I chased it down with an ice cream from Baskin Robbins, which is alive and thriving here in Korean cities (Baskins is my favourite ice cream but it seems to be almost gone in Brisbane).

I ended the day with a lengthy conversation with an American Korean lady living and working here at the hostel in Daegu. The hostel (Empathy House) is a non-profit that offers support to North Korean defectors seeking to setttle in the Daegu region. It is a wonderful social project that fits well with my personal values of everyone having equal opportunity in life regardless of what card we drew in the lottery of birth. Twenty percent of the hostel’s profits are returned to the project, which provides housing, education, medical, emotional and social support to it’s clients.

Andong to Sangju (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_2500_zps436325da.jpg
I have heard a lot about the Four River Rides and the passport that you get stamped at certification centers. So one of the draw cards of my visit to Andong was it’s location at the start of the Nakdonggang bicycle 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.
 photo IMG_2493_zps523a194e.jpg
The moonlight bridge near the dam is the longest wooden bridge in Korea. Even on an overcast day it is beautiful. I walked across the bridge to stand under the autumn coloured trees on the other side. A woman came over and asked me where I was from. She then called over her 10 year old daughter who had to do a school assignment in which she interviewed someone in English. 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.
 photo IMG_2505_zps54826a66.jpg
 photo IMG_2507_zps435bb849.jpg
Back in Andong I came to the mask park. Andong is famous for it’s traditional masks and the annual mask festival (which I missed by only a week). I had a lot of fun posing with the various masks and like the way they are specifically set up for photos.
 photo IMG_2509_zps4dcda241.jpg
After weeks of riding through Korea’s countryside on local roads the cycleway came as a bit of a shock. In some ways it was a pleasant change: there was no traffic and navigation was simply a matter of following the path and signs. But in other ways it was disappointing in the same way that a motorway is disappointing after traveling country roads. The cyclepath skirts around cities and towns, never actually entering them. This means there are limited on-track opportunities for spontaneous stops at little shops or historic sites. It also reduces you to an observor of Korean life rather than a part of it because you race past people working rather than interacting with them in villages and local tourist attractions. You also don’t get the same feel for the land because the cycleway takes the path of least resistance (except in a few places where there are ridiculous 13-18% climbs to get you off the river). Just as motorways are not bad, neither is the cycleway. But I definitely prefer to ride out on the road amongst the traffic, villages and mountain passes.
 photo IMG_2522_zpsa3f731b6.jpg
 photo IMG_2524_zps955c001b.jpg
That’s not to say that the path didn’t go through and past some beautiful spots. I rode through this picturesque rice paddy.
 photo IMG_2516_zps79697d76.jpg
Past these stunning riverside cliffs.
 photo IMG_2534_zps9c9a1a1a.jpg
And across the vast expanse that is Korea’s inland rivers.
 photo IMG_2511_zpse88c4332.jpg
Everywhere Korean farmers were working on the harvest.
 photo IMG_2536_zpscb2b9fed.jpg
These cute little tractors cut rice while couples of men and women worked together to collect and bundle it by hand. I find the rice cutting machines rather cute and think perhaps they could be the subject of a Pixar movie (they would have to be the goodies).
 photo IMG_2520_zps3bfc7c67.jpg
In another field a digger with two big prongs on the end dug into the dirt while women pulled sweet potatoes out of the ground. It was rather disconcerting for me being someone who comes from a country where health and safety has become so silly that almost nothing seems to be allowed anymore. But I like the ingenuity and am intrigued by the way rural life seems to be modernising here in Korea and the practices that have developed as a result.
 photo IMG_2541_zpsa619b268.jpg
Korean tourist practices also intrigue me. All over the country I have watched as grown men and women pose formally for photos only to break the formality with peace signs and riotous laughter. I like the playfullness and joy of it.
 photo IMG_2544_zps57c22585.jpg
The cultural difference flows both ways because it seems the Koreans cannot understand why I am taking photos of places without being in it. So sometimes I hand over my camera and allow someone to take a photo with me in it. It makes them happy and perhaps I will look back and wish I had some photos of myself that weren’t selfies.
 photo IMG_2546_zps84dfcd85.jpg
In Sangju I notice a man fishing in a blow up boat. I figure it’s a sign that paddling is allowed in this place on the Nakdonggang (river) so I park my bike, whip out the packraft and get some air into it. It’s already 4.30pm so I don’t have long to get myself out on the water before dark.
 photo IMG_2552_zps655e012a.jpg
Again I don’t paddle far. I just drift a bit so that I can keep an eye on my bike. Besides, after cycling about 85km since my late start in Andong (I didn’t leave until 11am) I just want to enjoy sensation of being on the water. I enjoy about 40 minutes of paddling pleasure before it’s time to find a place to camp.
 photo IMG_2560_zps2a6ce4d6.jpg
And what a place I manage to find. There is an island in the middle of the river near Sangju with lots of little pagodas on it. I go to one on the far side of the river where I enjoy a pleasang night listening to fish jumping in the water and wake to hear a flautist’s music eminating from somewhere in the woods opposite.

Tonggosan Recreation Park to Andong (Gyeonsangbuk-do)

 photo IMG_2445_zps69924059.jpg
I wake invigorated by the fresh mountain air. After a short 800m (half mile) roll downhill to the park entry gate I return to the climb I had not quite completed yesterday. For the next 5km I ride up a steady climb surrounded by deep green mountain forest dotted by bright red and gold autumn leaves. Every time a strong gust of wind blows I am showered by leaves. I reach the first of many passes that I will cross through today. These do not have the height of those further north but they are still long hard-won climbs in a magnificent landscape.
 photo IMG_24512_zps9000b663.jpg
The road takes me from mountain pass to agricultural valley and back again. Over and over this motion and landscape is repeated. But it’s something of which I could never tire.
 photo IMG_2453_zps76007285.jpg
Some valleys are deep and rice grows in the manner of quicksilver, filling every available nook and cranny of the land.
 photo IMG_2458_zps2ee51e21.jpg
Others are higher, lending themselves more to the growing of beans and cabbage. Everywhere older couples work the fields. Women and men share the burden of farm life together. I cannot help but wonder what will happen when the older generation passes on? Who will take over the farms? Or will new technological ways of farming come to the fore?
 photo IMG_2460_zps2b7912fe.jpg
I hear a flute being played as I descend a pass. I never do find the flautist but I do notice two tiger statues looking out over the valleys below. I am heading down out of the mountains now and wonder what the story is behind these creatures. There is a sign but it is in Korean so I will have to come up with some story in my mind.
 photo IMG_2465_zps9f008ffc.jpg
The road takes me to a wide river in a long deep valley. This will be the end of the real climbing for the day. There will still be some steep sharp hills but for the most part it becomes easier from here.
 photo IMG_2467_zps44a09632.jpg
 photo IMG_2472_zpsb0edb0a5.jpg
The river is guarded by steep mountains with rocky outcrops and strange shapes.
 photo IMG_2469_zpsd9d30dac.jpg
But the water is clear and I can see the bottom even from high up on a bridge.
 photo IMG_2473_zpsb60c67fa.jpg
I feel happy and content as I ride along the open road. The traffic is light, the sun is shining and the scenery is breathtaking. I have heard many people say that they can’t understand why anyone would feel the need to travel outside Australia. Those people haven’t yet seen Korea’s splendor.
 photo IMG_2480_zps739a0ad9.jpg
I stop to take yet more photos of the rice fields in their golden harvest readiness.
 photo IMG_2482_zpsf12aba83.jpg
And of impossibly large apples hanging form trees. This is the valley the Russians I met almost two weeks ago told me about. The apples look delicious but I know they are someone’s livelihood so I take only photos not samples.
 photo IMG_2485_zps82406771.jpg
I only intended to ride about 70-80km today but it’s only 2pm when I mark the 75km mark with a rest in a pretty pagoda. Note the colour of the leaves on the trees behind me. How glorious. It’s been a hot day and I’ve gone through about 3L of water already. I even bought a 1.5L bottle of pineapple Fanta (my favourite Fanta flavour) to help ease the thirst. I can imagine it must be tough going cycling here in summer if this is mid-autumn. The rest is delightful and I have run out of superlatives to describe the atmosphere and views.
 photo IMG_24912_zps7c79176e.jpg
Before I know it I am rolling into Andong. The less said about my arrival here the better. It goes along the lines of being unable to find accommodation after the hostel was fully booked but actually sitting right outside a perfectly good and reasonably priced hotel for half an hour worrying about what to do next. After 100km day on the bike I wanted nothing more than a shower, bed and internet access. Sometimes I can be so dramatic myself just like the landscape.
 photo IMG_20141010_191010_zpsnr8lgkvw.jpg
After taking a room I upload some photos then wander through the nearby car-free sections of Andong to explore the sights and sounds. What I find is wonderful. There’s a lively culture with neon lights and happy people.
 photo IMG_20141010_201944_zpsgzko8zrw.jpg
 photo IMG_20141010_191330_zpslzdevef5.jpg
 photo IMG_20141010_191522_zpsszmgsuyt.jpg
Not far from my hotel is the food street where vendors sell everything including my favourite Korean food, the donut and also some of the big apples I have seen on the trees.
 photo IMG_20141010_194400_zps3pdscznr.jpg
I even eat my first decent meal since Seoul: a dish called jjimdak, which is steamed chicken. It is a massive meal but I eat all the chicken pieces, some of the noodles and most of the cabbage. It feels good and I decide to try to book a second night at my hotel to enjoy the foods of Andong again.