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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Fire and fast footwork in Daejeon (Day 235)

Another magical mystery tour today where we experienced fire and fast footwork in Daejeon.

I was rudely awakened at 5:30am. Two men were having a massive argument, one was extremely loud. It went on for about 10 minutes and then all was quiet. Tim didn’t hear a thing! He sleeps so soundly, whereas I haven’t slept so well recently. We finally got out, another lazy morning, and Tim was taking me on a magical mystery tour. We turned right out of the Apartment, well, that’s different; we usually turn left. Where are we going? Our walk was going to take about 45 minutes, I suggested that we played a game. “Who could spot…” First, it was spotting two bikes, Tim was quick off the mark, then two yellow cars. Once onto the main highway, we quickly found them. A dog, Starbucks and three pigeons were next. We never did see the 3 pigeons. Tim had found a veggie restaurant to go for lunch. Sadly, similar to our day yesterday, it was closed despite what the internet said. Luckily I had smelt wonderful aromas wafting out of a nearby restaurant so we went there. No order necessary, the lunchtime special was placed on our table; Veg soup, rice with bean sprouts, kimchi, spinach and spicy radish side dishes. We got “chatting” with a gentleman who was with his ageing mum. I say chatting – it was more sign language. It is amazing how much we can communicate without words. We realised that we were just around the corner to the natural hot springs. I didn’t know it was so near! As we turned into the road, in the middle where lots of canopies and underneath, groups of elderly people sitting with their feet in hot water. A sign said to wash our feet first and we were directed to some tapes and a hose. I put the hose on, no water, just air – whoops, that was for drying our feet afterwards. A group of elderly people seemed very amused by us and beckoned us into the deliciously hot water and to walk along the large pebbles to sit down. Aahh! I sat next to an ageing man who seemed intrigued by Tim’s beard and was signalling that he should shave it off. We did have such a laugh with him, this was all done in some form of sign language. He, himself had a bit of stubble which I pointed out. That amused him even more. Eventually, he waved farewell….quite a few times, as he went off to dry his feet and walk passed us later. Two friendly faced women came and sat down. One had “Gap English Camp” on her t-shirt. I pointed this out, no – she didn’t speak English, I’m not even sure she knew what it said! They were a lovely pair of ladies, full of laughter. One was trying to fan herself on her back, so I took her fan and flapped it, cooling her back for her. Bless her, she was so grateful and later gave me the fan! Our feet had been soaking for 20 minutes, time to move on. As we walked to the metro I noticed some smoke – it was a pile of egg trays on fire in the middle of the pavement. What shall we do? While we stood looking at the fire getting stronger a man came strolling out with a watering can and put it out. “Cigarette,” he said. Ah – the damage of those thin white sticks – not just to health, but also to the environment as well. One spark and that could have turned into a nasty situation. We hopped onto the train to Jungang-ro and as we came out to the main concourse, there were many shops in the subway. Imagine walking in Oxford Street or Bank Underground station and having hundreds of small shops along the corridors taking you to the exits. The shops were mainly selling clothes. I fancy buying some blue short dungarees to replace one of my skirts, so went searching. I found a pair and asked to try them on. “No”, the lady signed that this was not allowed. “No? How do I know if they will fit?” I put them back on the rack. This happened a few times. One lady in a shop did, in the end, allow me to try a pair on, however, they were so baggy at the side I would have been exposing my underwear. Not sure at my age that is very appropriate! We eventually came out of the metro, walked along and came across the famous bakery in Daejeon, Sungsimdang – which opened in 1956 and listed in the Michelin Guide Korea. We were at their cake studio, the iconic bakery we discovered was further down the road. It was packed with people and with a huge variety of delicious looking cakes, cream, fruit, nuts….you name it, it was there. Tim and I are trying to cut down our sugar intake, but how could we resist? We went for two tarts which looked the least sugary – one full of nuts and a custard tart with mugs of tea. Yum – that was a nice pit-stop. Could have done with that yesterday! We strolled around the area, passed the Bakery which also looked amazing and then passed a very noisy arcade with slot machines. Just as we were walking by we saw some guys on a dance machine. One of them was incredible, his long slender legs and feet were moving like grease-lighting. We were enthralled and stood to watch for some time. Further down we came across “Sky Road”. The Daejeon administration wanted to promote Uineungeongi cultural street, so, influenced by Las Vegas, created a covered shopping arcade with a giant LED screen as the ceiling. The local people held a contest to name it. (At least the name is a bit more sensible than Boaty McBoatface as per the Polar Research Vessel!) Each evening the LED is turned on and various pictures, adverts and messages are shown on the 214m long, 13.3 wide and 20m high cover. We carried on our walk. One of the streets had lots of pet shops there with small glass cubicles in the window each with a kitten or puppy. Surely they would get too hot behind the glass and must be quite disconcerting for the poor little things having people ogle through the window at them. I nearly went to one of the shops to complain as the puppies had no water! Weird that the kittens did. Mmm…We haven’t seen many animals in the streets here, I expect they are all cooped up in the tiny apartments that people live in. Not much of a life for them. It was time we made our way back to our apartment. People here do live in very small places. Our whole apartment is about 20-foot square. One thing I really miss is having an outside view. I used to love sitting in bed with the curtains open, listening to the birds and seeing the trees blowing in the wind. I miss that. Most places we have stayed in, in Japan and Korea don’t have views. Here we have a window with obscure glass leading out to a balcony for the washing, again with obscure glass. Oh to have a view! I then spent ages looking for our next accommodation…with a view. There will be a place out there somewhere in South Korea, I just haven’t found it yet!

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