Asia | Korea, Republic of – I exhaust Puyeo
I decided that this week I was going to do something other than walk the streets, read, and mess around with Eoin’s laptop. I needed a break from Champ Manager.
The idea was to go to Seoul for a few days, but there was a bit of a mix up in the planning and I ended up booking a hostel in Puyeo, a small town about 2 hours by bus the other way. I decided if fate wanted me to go to Puyeo then I would go to Puyeo. And the website said the hostel had a swimming pool.
It took two bus journeys to get there. I was a bit worried I wouldn’t know where to get on or off, or even that the ticket sellers wouldn’t be able to understand my Korean pronunciation, but everything went swimmingly.
I was starving by the time I got off the second bus so I went to Lotteria, the Korean answer to Macdonalds. I had a kimchi burger. Instead of burger breads they have patties made out of sticky rice, which just disintegrates when you try to pick it up, which you have to do to eat the damn thing. I was more hungry than careful, but I think I got most of it in my mouth.
After a while spent in the middle of a road turning my map that I’d printed off d’internet round and round, I found my way to the hostel. It was very impressive. The ladies at reception didn’t speak English, but it was easy enough to fill out the forms. I had a triple en suite room to myself and as much free water as I could drink from the cooler in the corridor. The swimming pool was empty, but even that couldn’t put a dampener on my mood. I had sights to see.
Puyeo used to be the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Paeche. And rumour had it they’d left a castle behind. So I paid my 2,000 [about 1.50 euros] and went in search. Unfortunately the kingdom of Paeche is long gone and so is the castle. There are some nice grassy knolls that used to have buildings on ’em, but there is nothing left of the buildings but the memories.
There were some much more recent Buddhist temples to gawk at, and the twisting mountain trails through the trees were eh temptingly truculent. If you know what I mean. The most interesting thing on the whole mountain was a big old rock from which 3000 Paeche noblewomen threw themselves to their death around 600AD. The idea was to safeguard their chastity as their menfolk had been killed in battle, and the victors were on their way. But like the castle, their remains are long gone. It’s a nice story though.
Where the castle used to be is pretty much Puyeo’s biggest tourist attraction. There’s a museum, but you know how I feel about museums. I thought of getting the bus to another town, but the hassle of actually going somewhere and finding a place to stay put me off. I guess after three months the thrill of seeing new places is starting to wear off. I thought moving to another continent might get me back in the mood, but it seems I am getting tired of constantly being on the move. Ah well, it had to happen sometime.
So instead I spent the next day strolling Puyeo’s busy little streets. I got to see some of small town Korea. Downtown each street is a market with fresh produce on offer. The dessicated fish eyed fish on every corner were a little unsettling at first but but once I got used to them I was ok.
While not as colourful as Taejon, Puyeo had more of a time worn quality. And a lot less traffic. The people didn’t seem to be as used to seeing foreigners. Once when I was stopped for a rest on a bench in a park an oldish Korean guy came up and started shouting at me. I shrugged to communicate my incomprehension and he went away. Then he came back with his wife and shouted at me some more. I gathered my few possessions together and went on my way.
I returned to the hostel to find two Japanese guys in my room. It was their room now as well. Their English wasn’t great, but a lot better than my Japanese. They got to have their picture taken with me. Which seemed an awful thrill. They gave me a pen and paper to write my questions on which they then studied and answered. I shared some of my beer. We got along just great. Then it was time for bed.
The next day there really wasnt much else to do only head back to Taejon. It’s pretty enough, but I had exhausted Puyeo of it’s attractions. It was time to return to Champ Manager.