It all started innocently enough: with a phone call.
“Is this the Brazilian?” said a distinctly Australian voice.
In all honesty, at first I had no idea who I was dealing with. I do not field many phone calls from Ozzies out here in the provinces. But eventually I put two and two together, and realized that it was Greg Dawson, of Down Undah Backpackers, better known as Bridge Backpackers, a place in Hongdae where foreigners can relax; grab a beer, kick back, and tell tall tales. It is also a place for travelers to sleep. I think that those are called “guest houses.”
To make a long story short, Greg wanted to know if I would be willing to meet him and Alex for breakfast the next day, and to accompany them along part of the way for their ride linking Busan to Seoul along the Han River. I was ambivalent at the time, but an hour later I called back and told them I would meet them at the train station in local Yangpyeong. The rest, well, is history.
Here is yet another phone conversation, this time between Greg and my boss. It went something like this.
“Who is this?”
“This is Greg. We are kidnapping Richard for the day.”
“You are what? Wait a second. Who are you? What are you? Where are you?”
“This is Greg, and as I said, we are kidnapping Richard for the day. Besides, you do not really need him, do you?”
“Actually, he has to be here.”
“Does he have any classes to teach?”
“Well………………….no. But he must be here.”
“Why must he be there if he has no classes to teach, Ms. Im?”
“Because, because, because. Because he is a bloody slave to the system! Hell, how do I know. I am just a Korean, and we have been trained to make everyone sit in their chairs all day long?”
Actually, that last line I just made up. But somehow Greg managed to get me free, and I joined them for a 108 kilometer all day cycle down to Cheongju.
And so I did not have to mow the lawn for the rest of the day.
Now, let’s meet the perpetrators of this sequestration.
- Alex and Greg, the two perpetrators of the hijack, er, kidnapping, holding up their passports to show the immigration authorities that they are NOT illegal aliens, merely aliens. Speaking of aliens, one is a Pom, the other was merely born there. Can you guess which is which?
A couple of kidnappers, er, bankrobbers. This is how most Koreans look when they are riding bicycles. These two girls, however, are NOT Korean
The Rich. My sort of place.
This woman carries her umbrella with her when she rides
The dreaded but obligatory “selfie.” Alex, Yours Truly and Greg, from viewer left
The book that shows you rode across Korea. (Actually, not very hard to do.)
A couple of girls that we met along the way, that we never saw again. One of them had a “hamburger bell.” Does she use that to herald her arrival at Burger King? Here we are shooting the breeze in Yangpyeong one fog laden morning of the journey
Alex, getting the much coveted stamp
Looking, looking, looking. For what?