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Trip to the non-isolated island

25 October, 2015

Trip to the non-isolated island

I was thirsty, so I went to what I thought was a drinks vending machine next to my room. What I found was not drinks, but sex toys. The machine was packed with rubber vaginas, vibrators and lubricants.

I was staying a motel where affairs and young people looking for a bit of intimacy usually stay. Being one of the cheapest options where to sleep, I’ve slept on many motels like this one during this trip throughout South Korea. They come in many types and many have a few kitsch elements to them.

Something I did on purpose before arriving here was to not learn much about the country. I wanted to discover it as I clocked in kilometres. The first shock I knew would happen was the inability to decipher the language. I wanted to submerge myself and feel lost, force myself to ask for things, follow my instincts, relax and let myself go. Surely I’ve missed some tourist spots but I wanted my experience to be like this.

For this to be possible, I was greeted with the helping nature of the South Koreans I’ve met along the way. They’re warm, charismatic, cordial, kind, serene and honest. Perhaps the one word that defines most is “resilience”. For example, the photograph that goes with this post is the answer I got to the question: “Where can I find a scooter to drive around Jeju Island?” Athena is now packed in a box ready to be flown to India. Pay attention to the details of the zebra crossings and the distances in meters.

I’ve been here for almost a month already and made some good friends. Some like DJ, Mr Bong or Mr Kim have always been ready to give me a hand and make me try some of the dishes of their varied gastronomy. As one of the things they truly love is to eat, they invite you to experiment with a lot of their various flavours and try everything; silk worms, living octopus (as you place it inside your mouth, you can feel the tentacles sticking to your teeth and move in your mouth), black pork or bbq beef wrapped in green leaves. That, or their many styles of soup. In some small towns, faced with the impossibility of reading the menu, I limited myself to pointing onto anything in the menu. You can’t say you’ve tried spicy food until you’ve come here. Everything is spicy.

Being in the extreme South of the Korean peninsula, surrounded by two seas and facing its only border with North Korea (one of the most hermetic borders in the world) you could imagine South Korea to be an island. The only way to arrive here for me was by a ferry from Russia, since entering China with my bike would mean I’d have to pay a prohibitive amount of money.

But South Korea, from the tech point of view, is one of the most advanced countries in the world and, while North Korean citizens have no access to the internet, there are many free Wi-fi spots throughout the South Korean cities.

I imagine that as humans beings, things in our bodies continue to evolve and I’d imagine that South Koreans will soon grow a third arm with which to hold their mobile phones. They don’t let it go for a second. They walk looking at it while writing or watching videos. They must have developed an internal radar to avoid collisions with others. They manage to manoeuvre around you as they come towards you.

To this love for their mobile phones, I’d also add their coquette vanity. They waste no mirror or reflective surface where they can have a look at themselves and retouch their hair, make up or pop a pimple.

Usually I am not one to suggest what people should or should not to in their holidays or where to go. But if you were to be thinking of holidays, do please consider South Korea.

One must be willing to experiment with your senses and get rid of your shame. When you see an older lady having fun in a swing as if she was 6 years old and her laugh is so contagious, you queue to get on that swing.

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