Chats with new chums in Chuncheon (Day 255)
Another fab and unexpected day with many chats with new chums in Chuncheon.
I love days like this. No plan and seeing what will unfold with some great learning. Just before leaving our little abode, Minji, our host contacted us to see what we were up to today. She lives next door, so after a couple of messages bouncing across the internet, we popped over. And I am so glad I did. Minji lives on the third floor and her delightful parents live on the second floor. When they heard that we were visiting they came up to greet us. Delicious iced coffee, pancakes, fruit and cake made from rice flour arrived and we sat chatting for ages. Minji and her dad speak a bit of English and between this and google translate, it is amazing what we can chat about. we were quite shocked when we discovered their ages, they all look at least 10 years younger than they actually are. They all do quite a bit of sport, eat healthily, take a walk each evening, and seem pretty laid back. The answer to eternal youth? After quite some time, we said our farewells and walked to the Railway station for tourist information. On the way, we visited an outdoor clothes shop to try on some waterproof trainers. Tim’s trainers have seen better days and my lovely “barefoot” shoes are sadly not very comfortable. We are both thinking of replacing these and our walking boots for 1 pair of good quality walking shoes/trainers, reducing our luggage weight even more. Any suggestions, please ping them our way. Getting nearer to the station, we noticed a Tourist Information guy in his bright red uniform. He stopped to look at a sign (I think he had seen us and wondered if he could assist). We joined him and all went to the Information Centre together, found a good tour on Tuesday, discussed other ideas for the next two days and were given ice cold water and some tissues. The only way to book was to pay into a bank account. Jeong Tae Young the guide took us to the bank, we handed over the equivalent £8 and he organised the transfer. The people here really are so kind. He was fascinating to talk with, having organised tours around the diamond mines in North Korea for 20 years and walks 14 miles per day. My 10,000 steps seem rather insignificant! As the temperature by now was a sweltering 38 degrees, we caught a taxi to the Arts and Culture centre as apparently there was a festival on. Well, a couple of stalls selling food it turned out to be. We discovered a walkway cut out with a stream running through. Children were playing in the cool water and we spotted a group of people sitting in the stream in the shadow of a bridge with a table covered in food and drink. They beckoned us to join them and we were offered Makgeolli, a rather potent cloudy white rice wine together with a big chunk of cucumber. (I only had a sip as I was coaching later). We sat and happily observed them enjoying their time together and found out that they were friends from the same village and had all moved to Chuncheon. We decided to move on and further along the stream, children on the other side of the bank were waving to us, calling out hello. Some were skipping down to the stream to meet us. We precariously walked across the stepping stones and immediately were given a free ice cream. A mother and a young man chatted to us and explained that they help to run “We Start” a charity movement for children from marginalized families in Gangwon. What delightful people. The Mother was a picture of joy, so full of life and encouraged the young man to speak with us. We went to their stand and met a few more of the group, again she encouraged another young guy to speak with us. She must be a great asset to the group. It would have been interesting to find out more about them. Sadly there is not much online. I found the website, but it doesn’t work. Such a shame.
We got back in time for me to cool down ready for my coaching session whilst Tim did the clothes washing. Just as I finished, Minji, our host, got in touch and her parents had invited us to dinner and a walk together. How lovely! We had a delicious curry, homemade Kimchi and pickles followed by homemade wine, a bit like fortified port, made from berries that they had picked in the mountains, plus delightful conversation and much laughter. Such a lovely family. Time for our walk, the temperature was balmy, a slight relief from the heat of the day. We walked back along the stream where we’d been earlier, all the way to a sporting area, walked by the lake up some steps to a fabulous view, passed some live music and back again, ending up at a small park with bikes on a track that lit up as we cycled. The 5 of us all rode a bike with much laughter – such a fun and relaxing time. The family are so enjoyable to be around. Even though Minji’s Mum, Seonhee, cannot speak any English and my Korean is not more than a handful of words, we had a wonderful connection. My back ached a bit after we were sitting cross-legged, I really must improve my core. She walked by me rubbing my back for ages. I have a lump in my back, a Lipoma, nothing to be concerned about, an age thing apparently. I think she was trying to massage the lump out. Another wonderful, unplanned day, meeting delightful people with lots of laughter. We have reflected on how welcomed we have been in so many countries. How welcoming are we? How many strangers do we chat with, in the UK? What can we do to welcome people? We started this journey with a hint of distrust of people, a sad by-product of the media? This distrust has melted away, resulting in us having wonderful enriching experiences with so many people. More great chats, connecting with new chums in Chuncheon.