Around Korea in 5 days- Day 1 Busan 부산 to Samcheok 삼척

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I had done twelve day trips by motorcycle in Korea. As the end of the riding season approached I decided to do one last trip. This time I would try to go all the way around Korea. My goal was to do it in five days and for fewer than 400,000 won. I estimated it would be around 1,600 kms. I would budget 80,000 won for each day. I left Monday September 21th. I was headed up the east coast of South Korea. I was crashing on a friends couch during that time. I got up early that morning and headed out on the road. I made a wrong turn in Busan, making me head back into town. I got things straightened out and I hoped that this would not be indicative of the trip. Finally by 10:30am, Busan was fading away behind me.

I had done twelve day trips by motorcycle in Korea. As the end of the riding season approached I decided to do one last trip. This time I would try to go all the way around Korea. My goal was to do it in five days and for fewer than 400,000 won. I estimated it would be around 1,600 kms. I would budget 80,000 won for each day. I left Monday September 21th. I was headed up the east coast of South Korea. I was crashing on a friends couch during that time. I got up early that morning and headed out on the road. I made a wrong turn in Busan, making me head back into town. I got things straightened out and I hoped that this would not be indicative of the trip. Finally by 10:30am, Busan was fading away behind me. I wanted to film the trip but I also wanted to get the riding in so I was not sure of how to approach the task of trying to document the trip. I figured I would use the same style I had for my other videos. At noon I reached Pohang. I stopped and got the oil changed. I figured I would do it every day. One because it was cheap and good preventive maintenance and secondly I could get a once over of the bike each day. Make sure the chain is okay and that there are not any problems. The bike I am riding is an older 125 Daelim and I defiantly do not recommend it for the trip, but it is all I have right now. I don’t want to not do it just because of the bike. I figure my 23 years of riding experience will compensate for what the bike lacks. After the check- up I grab a quick lunch from Lotte mart and eat on the side of the road. Time on the side of the road is something you get used to on motorcycle trips. Sometimes I forget that there are better places to stop. I just get wrapped up in the riding and don’t want to be too far from the road. It is colder than I expected and I catch a bit of a chill. So it’s time to pack up. I decide to wait till around 2pm to start filming. I just want to enjoy the road for awhile. I am riding along the ocean and the traffic is light so I drift off into rhythm of the road. Riding motorcycles is Zen for me. It is one of the few times that everything turns off in my head. Everything becomes connected and in flow. One thing I have noticed while riding around Korea is that the distances on the signs do not seem that accurate. My suspicions were confirmed. I passed a sign that said 123 kms to Samcheok, then ten minutes later a sign states 128km. As 2pm approached I realized it was time to find something to film. I have learned the brown signs mean tourist attraction. I have also learned that their distances are not accurate either. What can seem like a five minute detour can turn into a 50 km wild goose chase. I spot a sign for a museum and as I come up the highway I can see it off the side of the road. This seems like a perfect find. It ends up being a memorial for a Korean general who died fighting the Japanese during the turn of the 20th century. There are some shrines and a small museum. The museum features some photos of Koreans being tortured during colonization. It is not that often I have seen real photos of that time. They leave me with a lasting impression of how brutal that period of Korea’s history was. I head back out on the road again and about half hour later stop for a short break to take in the scenery of the ocean. It is quite a beautiful ride along the ocean. My next stop is a cave. One of my first travel memories is visiting a huge cave in Mexico when I was four. I always get excited to go check out caves. The cave is along a river cutting back into the mountain. It is a medium sized cave. There are times in the cave where you have to crawl through a few sections as the passages are very small. After the cave I grab a bag of chips and then head out back on the road. I am feeling good I have filmed a couple tourist attractions and have had a good day riding. It is only 4:30pm and I am only 65km to Samcheok my destination for this day. It seems like a perfect day. Then as I head down a hill on the highway, my engine cuts out. I pull in the clutch and drift down the hill as far as I can. I eventually run out of steam. I get off the bike and look around. There does not appear to be any service stations near. I start to think about the task of pushing my bike. I check over the bike and hope that I just ran out of gas and that there is not some problem with the bike. Motorcycles have reserve tanks and usually a switch under the tank. You can switch the gas from on to off and to the reserve tank. The switch is turned to on. I switch it to reserve. I hope this fixes the problems. If you run dry it can take a minute or so to get the bike going again. I push the choke in and hit the starter. I can hear the carburetor trying to suck in gasoline. Try one is a failure. I stop for a second and then hit the starter again the bike struggles to start. Then the wonderful sound of the engine roaring to life starts. I put my jacket back on, I was already prepared to push the bike. I head back on the road. I have to find gas soon as the reserve won’t last long. Ten minutes down the road I find a town. I am saved. I travel the length of the town and can’t find a station. I go back through town and still no station. I stop at the fire station. There is only a lady at the station and she doesn’t speak any English. I realize I don’t really know Korean for I ran out of gas. I point to my tank and shrug my shoulders. She understands and points down the road and tells me it is 3 kms down the road. I head toward the station and wonder why the gas station was not closer to the town, it was a fair size town. Finally I spot the gas station and just as I turn off into it, my engine cuts out again. I am able to drift to the pump, perfect timing. The gas incident took some time and I still wanted to film one more thing. I find small Buddhist temple close by. There was not much there but it did have a good view. I filmed it and thought about trying to find one more thing. At 6:30 I made it to Samcheok. The highway I came in on goes under a big arch featuring a big bat. There are several signs for more caves. There are several factories and everything looks kind of dirty. I pass over a bridge and head into town. I find the downtown area and it is a lot different. It is very new and clean. There is a nice walking and shopping area. I stop at a hotel and ask the price. It is only 30,000 won so I decide to stay there. I want to get a good sleep that night. I head down to the shopping are and go to a pizza restaurant. The restaurant has pictures of some Italians helping to set up the restaurant on the wall. The pizza ends up being pretty good. Pizza after a good day of riding is one of my joys in life. After dinner I hit up an internet cafe. I want to check my email. It will be the last time for the week as I will go offline for the rest of the trip. It ends up being a great thing that I check my email as it ends up changing the rest of my trip. A fellow motorcyclist that I had met in Busan sent me some links for a website that featured a guy who did a solo trip to northern India. He shot a documentary about it called “Riding solo to the top of the world”. I watch the trailer for it. It gives me so many ideas for filming. I also think why I hadn’t thought of some of the film techniques he was using. I am excited about the next day. I have since seen the documentary and defiantly recommend watching it. After the cafe I grab a popsicle and head back to the hotel. My first day is done.     



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