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Reisverslag On my way to: Korea without airplane
8 augustus 2014
On my way to: Korea without airplane
To give you an idea about my past few days, I hereby post some pieces of my daily travel journal again. Since I didn't write for quite some time, this story is a bit longer. I will add story-supporting pictures on my FaceBook page.
After packing my stuff in Khabarovsk at my hosts house, my hosts Sergei and Natasha dropped me off at the railway station. Sergei helped me all the way with my heavy backpack. I was ready for my last train journey in Russia, for now. The train waited for 30 minutes at the station and then we departed for Vladivostok. After having the bottom bunk for almost all train journeys I did feel that having the top bunk was uncomfortable. I don’t know the exact reason, but I had a hard time falling asleep (well maybe because the lights stay on until quite late).
I tried to sleep as long as possible without being lucky, since a lot of passengers were already getting off at 7 in the morning. Eventually I just returned all the linen to the provodnik and tried to enjoy the nature in the remaining 2 hours. Getting a text message of my provider saying how much texting in China costs, I realized how close I was to “real” Asia (Russia feels more European). Even Khabarovsk was only 40 kilometres removed from the Chinese border, they said. Vladivostok, on the contrary, is similar to San Francisco, because of her hills, harbours and bridges, they say. Olga was waiting for me and together with some Russian hot chocolate I met her friend Vasilisa, and her husband. With Olga and Vasilisa I explored Vladivostok in many different ways. I left my destroyed shoes, which have been faithfully carrying me around for 4 years, at an awesome viewpoint under the watching eyes of Methodius and Cyril. I shopped until my last Russian Roubles dropped. I’ve passed a chocolate factory and tried seaweed chocolate. I ate my last real borsj for now at Vasilisa’s place, while watching American/British shows being synchronized in Russian. But the best of all was going to this popular local beach with tons of entertainment and with still quite some people despite it being after 11 pm. I swam in the Japanese sea! I was covered with seaweed (and Olga’s dogs’ hair), when the four of us had a midnight snack. Olga’s husband ate enough to gain strength to insanely drive everyone back home. With a speed of certainly more than 130 km/h the car jumped over and bumped on the hills. This day was the best I could get or even imagine of a day-before-departure.
I woke up, found myself clean from dog’s drool and packed my bags. I could leave those at hubby’s café and could enjoy Olga being my tour guide later on. I could make a wish, standing underneath a restored arch and I saw a submarine which was, of course, huge. When it was time to say goodbye at the harbour, separating with Olga and Vasilisa, who joined us later on, I already met a new person. The Russian Maxime was the first of the many other different people I would meet on the boat. But before I could get on I had to go through the long awaited border control. A dog sniffed my backpack thoroughly, but lost his interest after I had to open it, showing some ordinary medicine. After refilling my migration card, the border police didn’t even mention the absence of a registration mark in my passport. That was probably because she didn’t speak English… I left Russia successfully; I survived! I could get on the boat and meet lots of other people. The unique Italian group, French, British, and Japanese individuals were just as rare as I was. All the others were (drunken) Russian (sailor)men and curious Koreans. It was truly nice to talk with so many different people about every crazy little thing. “Russian Winter Style” became a new dance move of mine. I didn’t use it, though, when I danced in the spotlights of the disco club, which opened at 9. I felt awesome while dancing and I seemed to have surprised passengers by my 'dancing skills'. Many times, by both Russians and Koreans, I was invited for a drink. The best drink I had was the 5,000-Korean-Won beer I paid myself by mainly using coins of 10 Won. They didn’t want to accept the coins at first (of course, it’s less than €0.01), but the French guy helped me begging. The night was nice, the people were perfect. Everyone was jolly and didn't care about language barriers (like Russians don’t care about crosswalks). Differences didn’t matter, just like the height gap between Korean and Thai attendants, while playing life music at the club. Annyeonghi chumuseoyo.
I woke up to find some person of yesterday telling me that Vladivostok, ironically almost right above South-Korea, is two time zones later than Korea. I could’ve slept more, but I was just too energetic. There was Korea!! Unfortunately the passport control, with the one-hour queue in front of it, welcomed me first, before Eunseong took me to some places; she brought me to another ferry port to see if there were ferry tickets available to the island Ulleungdo. Unfortunately Ulleungdo-plans got blown away by the typhoon, making ships stay safely in their harbours. My other plan, stuffing myself with ddukboggi, did succeed thanks to Eunseong. I met her two children and got the chance to take care of her schoolchildren later on: she’s privately teaching children English, in an apartment which temporarily became my bedroom. Her colleage wasn’t available at some time, so I tried to keep the four 16-years-old accompanied and occupied. These children took me to the bus stop after class (and thereby succeeding their mission Eunseong gave them). I could get used to the shyness of them. I’ll never get used to the taps opening the wrong way at that apartment, though. With the bus, which runs extremely infrequently, I got to Mureung Valley. I got to see the stunning waterfalls before having to walk in one coming from the clouds. I definitely was already wearing the perfect hiking gear (not – I rather looked like going to the beach in comparison to the Koreans) so I didn’t need an umbrella… The bus back to the city kept me dry, so that I could neatly get to Eunseong’s. When she finished her teaching session at 8, she took me to this awesome bibimbap place. Afterwards I had some time for myself to forget Cyrillic, to learn Korean, to get used to different customs and to just realize that I got this far without grabbing an airplane. I’m so proud of myself.
p.s. My location is not Sokcho, but Donghae. I just used Sokcho, which is also East coast, because Donghae is not an option on this site. Neither is Donghae mentioned even once in the Lonely Planet.
p.p.s. Shame on the Lonely Planet travel guide...
8 augustus 2014 14:56 | Door: Lionel
Gaaf Madeleen, en tof dat je al je voorbereidingen zich terug verdienen! Ik heb mij weer uitstekend vermaakt met je verhaal (hoewel ik moet studeren...). Geniet nog even van je vakantie en blijf ons op de hoogte houden!
8 augustus 2014 15:05 | Door: Jacomijn
fijn te lezen dat je weer een horde genomen hebt. dat hordelopen zit blijkbaar in de familie, al geef jij er wel een heel bijzondere betekenis aan ;-) terecht dat je trots bent op jezelf!
Misschien kan je ook wel stukjes schrijven voor de Lonely Planet, kan je mooi de omissies aanvullen. Je schrijft in ieder geval beeldend en 't leest lekker.
Nog veel plezier in Zuid-Korea de komende tijd. Geniet er nog even van voordat het harde studeren gaat beginnen.
8 augustus 2014 16:36 | Door: mama
Ik ben het helemaal met Jacomijn eens!!
9 augustus 2014 00:21 | Door: Michel
Heerlijk verhaal weer! Grappig trouwens dat je Cyrillus en Methodius noemt. In Rome waren we in de San Clemente kerk en daar werden deze broers geëerd omdat Cyrillus daar begraven ligt. Er was een aparte ruimte onder de kerk waar veel gedenkborden hingen, uiteraard vooral uit de Slavische landen. En natuurlijk een flink aantal in het cyrillisch.
13 augustus 2014 20:26 | Door: Lisette
Safe and sound aangekomen in Zuid-Korea, fijn! Je schrijft leuk, ik kijk ernaar uit om je vele toekomstige avonturen in Zuid-Korea te lezen.
Heel veel plezier daar. Geniet van het reizen, het eten en de knappe Koreaanse mannen ;)