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A Jimjilban a Day…

We woke up feeling tremendously clean and reasonably well rested, after spending the night sleeping an unknown amount of time a darkened room at the entrance of which hung a sign displaying multiple words in Korean and a single English word “Resting.” We were of course at the Sea-Spa Theme Park Jimjilban in a resort town just north of Busan in South Korea.

Why they call it a theme park, I will never know. It was just a normal Jimjilban, no nicer or larger than the others we’d experienced, and with a slight view of the sea. We were starving, as usual, and ate a breakfast of rice and fish in the attached restaurant.We paid our bill (about $20 USD for 24 hours for two people… not bad) and headed out to the parking garage, where we had folded the Speed TRs the night before, and locked them to a fence before covering them with a number of old burlap sacks we’d nicked from the Spa’s garbage.

We unfolded the bikes, ditched the burlap, and strapped our things down for the ride into Busan. It was a cloudy, refreshing sort of a day, and we felt cool and collected. The Korean youth who wandered the streets outside the Spa seemed to agree as we mounted our Dahons and headed away from the Jimjilban, laden with our rather filthy baggage and sporting battle hardened Vietnamese motorcycle helmets.Our first idea was to attempt to avoid yesterday’s harrowing journey through the tunnel that separated this community from the greater Busan metropolitan cluster by skirting the coastline. At first, the scheme seemed to be working perfectly. Then the coastal road we were taking petered out into sand and then a cliffside.  So we retraced our steps all the way back to the Jimjilban and begrudgingly wheeled back onto the main road.
And so it was that we ended up headed uphill through the tunnel. I’ll be honest, dear reader, it was one of the more unpleasant moments of the trip. Cars were shrieking by us, we were fighting against gravity, everything was deafeningly loud, and the exhaust was thick, burning our lungs slightly with each breath. But there was no choice so we gritted out teeth slugged up the road.

I emerged from the tunnel relieved at having made it through, but troubled to look behind me and see Scott still deep in the tunnel, pedaling slowing and laboriously forward. When he finally arrived, he explained to me that his front wheel’s spokes had gone all to spaghetti again. So we flipped his Speed TR over right there at the mouth of the tunnel (right next to a hitherto unnoticed no bikes allowed sign), and I went to town with the Syrian adjustable wrench. As I worked, I thought about the last time we broke the rules in Korea

Back on the road, we made short work of the downhill segment which put us back into the suburban valley we’d ridden through the night before. Here too it was a slight downhill. This explained why yesterday’s ride had been so exhausting. We spotted a bizarre Paris/freedom themed coffee shop/bakery as we coasted through town, and decided to stop for a little caffeine and blogging.

We made short work of a few lattes, and did some serious feasting on the inter-webs, uploading posts and images for you, dear reader. Soon the coffee began to scratch and claw at our stomach walls and we closed our laptops, heading out in search of some shapes to eat.

We decided to stop at a sort of choose your own adventure fried foods stand. The way this particular invention works is that the customer selects from a number of once fried items, which are then re-fried while he or she mixes up a little dipping sauce from a number of condiments. It was just the thing to quiet the stomach, or so we thought.

We stood at the bar and ate a few shapes before we started to realize they were making our stomachs upset and scuttled the mission part way through.

We decided to head back to the freedom/paris cafe for a little more coffee and blogging before we hit the road again. The Internet was very fast here in Korea, and the freedom cafe was an outlier even amongst our Korean experiences. It was glorious to feast on such a waterfall of data and we lapped it up like thirsty hounds.

Eventually, as fun as it is to upload and download information, we needed to get back on the road, and so we did, completing the next 20 or so kilometers in short order, aided in large part by the fact that the ride continued to be majority downhill.

We stopped to eat a little more at another one of those Korean BBQ places that we had grown so fond of. It had been quite a while (in AsiaWheeling time at least) since we had experienced a truly filling meal, so we decided to go ahead and over-order. No regrets there.

It was night then, and the cold was setting in. It was high time to select another Jimjilban, we decided. Rather than ride the rest of the way into Busan, we decided to just search in the nearby area. The Haeundae Spa center seemed particularly large and exciting, so we headed into the skyscraper that contained it and found a nice well lit place in the parking garage for our Speed TRs.


  1. Monti | March 2nd, 2012 | 11:36 am

    Great shot of that bricked (pedestrian only?) alley!

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