And so another piece of our global motorcycle jigsaw puzzle is in place, the bikes are surrendered and we leave tomorrow. This 3,500 km trip has been fun and we take away very fond memories of the ROK and its people. What are the main impressions?
That we got back to Itaewon, the European suburb in Seoul where embassies, fast food, and US troops cluster and immediately went to the backstreets looking for Korean food, indicates that Korean cuisine has once again seduced us. Even Brendan – who early in the tour referred to kimchi as “silage”, couldn’t face leaving it behind just yet!
Then there were the roads and the mountains – a motorcycling paradise that has been quite a surprise in this small country of 50m people. But the east and north (of Seoul) are very under-populated and the roads are of a standard New Zealanders can only envy. Our Hyosungs were in their element swinging through the countryside.
The hiking destinations have been an equally captivating aspect of the tour. Koreans hike the mountains with the aplomb that Kiwis wander the waterfronts of St Heliers or Oriental Bay. For us huffing, puffing tourists it was a little humbling to see folk much older than ourselves striding up the staircases attached to sheer cliff faces, in cheerful, effortless pleasure.
And finally have we mentioned the honesty? Everywhere we’ve been we’ve always been assured that leaving all our gear on our bikes would be “no problem” – Koreans don’t steal. One still sees the evidence of this in the smaller towns where after closing time retailers simply throw a tarpaulin over the displays of goods they’ve put out on the sidewalk. Can you imagine crates of beer in NZ being safe overnight just stacked on the footpath and covered with cloth?
So we’d like to thank the South Koreans very much for fantastic hospitality and encourage any intrepid Kiwi tourists to experience this “undiscovered” part of the world.