9.5.09

My day began at 6 a.m.

This is very unusual for me, even when I'm doing on-the-road travel research. Most places in Korea don't open that early, so it's not like in The Amazing Race, where showing up at 7 a.m. sharp at the gate of the national park guarantees you the first chance to lurch in and find your clue.

But I was up at 6 a.m. anyway, because getting to Odaesan National Park from the town where I'm staying (Gangneung) involved an inter-city bus ride that needed to be timed right with the shuttle bus servicing different parts of the national park, so that I could optimise my time at all my stops and not spend all day waiting for the next bus (the shuttle bus runs only every hour or so).

In the afternoon, there was a painstaking wait outside another bus terminal --- this time in the nearby town of Hoenggye --- for another shuttle bus --- this time headed for Yongpyong Ski Resort. Ironically, at the national park in the morning I'd bumped into an Australian who'd commented that some of the transportation instructions in his copy of the Lonely Planet don't provide sufficient details about where one catches the bus. Now I got screwed --- it was only when the puce (yes, puce) coach glided by me with "All Seasons Yongpyong" emblazoned on its side, that I realised I'd been waiting in completely the wrong spot.

That shuttle bus also runs every hour or so.

So I said screw it, and took a taxi. It's not ski season, but a diligent Lonely Planet writer still has to go make sure all the buildings and services (and prices) are in place for the next snowfall.

Through sheer good fortune, I've been meeting older English-speaking Koreans who are more than happy to show a foreigner around while they exercise their English. One of them even took a course at my university (albeit a good decade before I was there). That has to be one of the most astonishing coincidences of my trip.

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