I was in Korea for sometimes and a part my few days of ride to Daego I did not cycle a lot here in Korea. I heard a lot about mountains, rivers and beauty of nature in Korea and I was about to explore it trough my own exploration.
Regarding to my original plan I supposed to go back to Iran around November 11 to organize our peace ride with Rick.
so I had some days left before I go to Iran and I was thinking that it might not be a good idea to spend just 10-15 days in Japan and instead of going to Japan for such a short time it would be better to stay longer in Korea and see more from the country.
I called Jared a fellow cyclist who I met in Ara bike festival and he kindly invited me to stay with them in Seoul. I called Jared and after having some meeting one after another finally I made it to their house in the evening.
We began to talk, to share ideas, stories and enjoyed a very lovely conversation. I told him about the idea of cycling around Korea for a little while and he was helping to share his experience and giving me some tips about where to go and what to see. Actually this is the way I travel and I discover places.
We got the idea of going to somewhere in the center of the country where colorful leaves would paint the nature and beauty of autumn would bring shine to my eyes and a big joy to my heart.
I was searching for my liner of my sleeping bag what I couldn’t find it at last!! it would have been kind of hard then without having it as it was getting cold and I needed it for my sleeping bag, because my sleeping bag is not that warm enough and cold weather was a head.
Jared kindly offered me to use his spare sleeping bag which could be so convenient and easy then. And of course warm!!
I took a bus to a small town called Chingju and I started cycling from that point.
I arrived late in the afternoon and I began to ride. I had no rush and it was one of my very few times that I had no target and I was just about to enjoy and relax.
First I began to ride along the river. Soon after I needed to find a shelter, where I could pitch my tent and stay dry from morning dew. It is quite hard this time of the year to have totally wet tent in the morning. I cant do much actually except finding a shelter to keep things dry.
I was planning to spend 7-8 days in the nature, no matter where ..just nature, autumn, trees, mountains beauty and peace.
The first night I was cycling at dark and still trying to find out where I could sleep and finally in a small park I found a shelter to camp. The good thing of cycling in winter, autumn or any cold time of the year is to have empty places everywhere and people are not coming around and they get home quite early in the evening, so I can pitch my tent anywhere I want.
again I was outside, I was in entire peace and calmness which I need for my work for my travel and for my thoughts to bring them to my acts.
in the morning after I began to cycle suddenly I found myself in a real peace and joy even though I live in peace but still being within all those beautiful places in the nature is something totally different.
I chose to go through some small roads where I wouldn’t have much traffic on the road and of course more beautiful and remote then.
It was such a nice experience to do not have anywhere to go and just being there to enjoy.
everyday waking up, making my coffee in the tent, sitting in front of my tent and looking outside for a while and then packing, riding through some colorful forests, taking pictures to share with those who are at home, work or any place which does not have the chance to be outside to share a piece of that beauty and then again in the evening trying to find a place to camp, lying down in my tent, listening to the sound of nature and falling sleep deeply and calmly till the next morning and do it all over again and again.!!!
It was like a paradise and I could wish and get what I wanted. I believe all is power of being in the nature and uniting with nature and universe.
I took a dirt road to skirt around a lake and every single moment I was amazed how beautiful that area is.
I could spend days and days there on myself and just be amazed by the nature.
As I was cycling through that dirt road I should stop every few min to take some pictures.
Again late afternoon and trying to find a spot to set up my home, that’s the story of my life, a real one and hopefully everlasting story. Honestly still sometimes I began to think where I am going to sleep or where I can find to stay overnight? But soon after this thought I remember all those nights on the road, all those uncertain places and circumstances I was in and I could go through them all which how every day I would find a wonderful place to stay, a nice place to camp.
I have never been in hard moments, I mean actually difficult situation finding a place to sleep. All those experiences ensure me that I will be fine and I will find a wonderful place to camp.
This is my life, going through all these mystery moments which have surprises coming along.
In those moments I just think about everything. About my life, my mission, my acts, friends, family …it is hardly possible to stop thinking and I am also not going to stop thinking, all I can do is to drive my thoughts in a way to find the better solutions to unite people, to make our world a better place to live for ourselves and other animals, plants and any being in this planet.
To achieve that and to find the answers I myself need pure and deep peace before going through the world. I can find that peace in the nature, on the road and while riding alone across our beautiful planet.
I was so comfortable there in that road, going up and down to have spectacular scene from the lake and autumn.
I was passing a very tiny village, where I didn’t see anyone on the street. I needed water for the night and I stopped by a house to fill up my bottle waters. I walked in the yard and I yelled but no one was there to ask but it could be my last chance to have water and I was pretty sure the owner wouldn’t mind if I grab some water, so I did.
I took some pictures and I began to ride again to home!! Just in 50 m I saw a little Korean style shelter with a wonderful view over the lake. I stopped to pray for a few minutes and I realized it can be a nice place to pitch my tent.
I was thinking of that and I was considering the place as a home which a lady passed by and just in case to inform her, I asked her if I can set my tent and she pointed me to follow her. I looked down where she was walking to and I saw a house with a nice very nice balcony opening to the lake. I walked also after her and she kindly invited me to join them for a drink and some snacks.
I was amazed by the view, blessed with their kindness and happy with my life.
Just after a very short while she asked me if I will have dinner with them or not which was just great for me to have dinner with them.
As sun was setting and it was spreading a warm and beautiful color over the lake I began to think about my camping spot. That balcony could be amazing and so nice to see the sun rise in the morning.
So I asked them if I can pitch my tent and of course they kindly said yes! What hardly you find the opposite act in Korea.
While I began to set my tent they began to set the BBQ..Oh no!!! That sounds a feast then. Having this wonderful place to camp, nice people to company and BBQ in that balcony!! That just sounded wonderful.
Later at night before everyone go home they told me that my tent will be wet because of morning dew and it is better to sleep inside and they left all that apartment for me and everyone left!! I was alone in that villa with warm bed, hot shower and everything I might need!!
Next morning I woke up and the guy came to pick me to have breakfast in their house.
In one hour I was out again on my bike going through that road, listening to birds and thinking again to build up myself.
I was going through my inner side, very detailed to find out more about my being, my nature and my outer behavior.
They are all connected and I need to know my nature to learn how I should behave! I should know how to behave to get more people involve in our peace and tree project.
Finally that dirt road ended and I continued through a kind of main road.
Around 2 pm it started a bit of rain while I was climbing a hill, so I had a short stop under a shelter to see if rain will continue or not where I met a group of Korean who were having lunch.
It was exactly like Iran and it remained me of our mountaineering group when we were having lunch on the road. All around the same table to share whatever they have. That’s a quite big different I see it in eastern countries in compare with the western.
Being together, sharing whatever you have and eating from the same plate!! One of the things I love the most in my life!! Sharing..!!
Of course they invited me to have something to eat with them and soon after I left that shelter as rain was not very serious.
it was about 4pm which still I had more than an hour to ride along a river. I passed a camp ground and I saw a group of guys playing volleyball with foot. I just waved them a hand and they yelled at me and asked me to join them.
I returned and in 5 minutes I was there in the field playing with them. Time no longer was a matter and I just was playing while small drops of rain were washing the entire dark layer from my soul.
They asked me to camp there and I even didn’t need to think of that! I just found a little shelter there and I camped under it to prevent getting wet from the night rain!
The guys who I was playing with them were a group of bike riders which monthly gathered for a ride together.
They invited me to have dinner with them and a big BBQ and lots of chat and talk with them was enough to enjoy another night of life. It was funny that I saw a pair of badminton rackets and I just showed my willing to play a bit, but there was a mid age man who took it seriously and asked me if I play Badminton. I just do it for fun, I replied.
Then he asked me how many years I am playing it? “ It has been a long time I haven’t played and I just do it for fun sometimes, I am not professional player though” I replied again. and he said I live somewhere in the mountain and you can come to stay in my home tomorrow night and we can play Badminton.
I looked at the map and it was 50km south, out of my direction but I accepted it.
In the morning I cycled south to his place which was an abundant school but very nice.
On the road I met him few km before his house and he asked me to get there and he will join soon.
I walked at the door and knocked at the glass window, an old warm hearted lady appeared and hold my hands and pulled me inside the house and directly sent me to the table where I could find plenty of foods.
she excitedly began to serve foods like she already knows me for ages!!
Sitting on the table, eating food and watching her how she was running around to find and grab things to put at the table for me. That’s not just about the food, it not only give you power to your body to work, I would rather say it fuels my soul to go farther for love, for humanity and for friendship.
No words to share and just her smile and some Korean words he would say regardless either I understand or not!
It was a bit cold outside but sun was shining and it could be so nice to lay on the ground under sunlight.
After my Korean friend returned we had a coffee and then his brother joined us to talk a bit.
He took two Badminton racket and asked me to go to yard to play with him!! It was so windy and we couldn’t play well and after just 5 minutes he said, ok finished!! I was wondering that we just played less than 5 minutes and he asked me to ride 50km to here just for this 5 min? Still it was fine as the road was nice and his house also was really nice and I could enjoy the nature.
we got back to the table where his brother and his wife were there and we continued our conversation, basically their conversation and I was just kept looking at them as I did not understand anything!
after 15 minutes he went inside and he returned with a Tshirt and a short trouser for playing Badminton and he asked me to change my cloths as we were going to go to a club to play!! I was surprised then and quite happy.
On the way I stopped by a pharmacy to buy some cold stop pills. For last 2 days I had kind of sore trout and I was just about to crash down in cold which I didn’t like it at all. It would mean then to stop cycling for some days and losing the chance of seeing some of those beauties.
I began to drive my mind and control the cold by my thoughts. Actually I was eating all the things which would be terribly bad for sore trout, so I was not doing it right physically and just need to handle it mentally.
It was kind of struggle for 2-3 days to get rid of that cold and I was fine again.
Days were passing and I realized that having just 8 days is not enough and I need more to enjoy, to see and to get united with the nature.
I had few more days of visa and last 2 days would be weekend, so I had to think it in advance. In that day suddenly I got an email from Turkish airline confirming that they will issue my ticket to Iran and just they need the details of the flight I need and that email followed by another one next day telling they are sorry to say that it is impossible for them to issue a gift flight from any departing city rather than Mashhad!! I was wondering what to say as they already knew that I won’t fly from Mashhad and I need a flight to Mashhad!! And I was expecting they already understood it!! But anyway I found myself in a kind of mystery again, in a dark corridor which I am already assure that this corridor will lead me to light and inner peace.
It took me less than 2 hours to forget about Turkish airline and look forward to find a new solution for the new situation.
I had 4 more days left and I was totally sure that I won’t buy a ticket myself, so I should go for the new solution and the only one I had before me was to extend the visa first!
I called a immigration office to ask either I can extend my visa or not and they told me if I am having any kind of visa except C31, then I can extend it.
I continued riding and still I was not sure about the type of my visa. I couldn’t carry that doubt longer, so I stopped by the road and dag out my passport, luckily it was C31 which was extendable and now it was time to find out where I should doing it.
I looked at the map, there was a big town ahead of me and I could get there by the next day and easily could visit immigration office to extend.
Mean while I was chatting with Katie, an American FB friend who is living in Korea now.
She lives in Chuncheon and kindly invited me to stay there with them, so I planned to ride around a bit and on my way back to Seoul visit them to stay for a night or two there. Still I had to get to a big city and I began to follow a small road.
Those days I was riding very slow, around 50-60km a day which is not normal to me. I went through a road with 13% steep which is quite hard.
I was climbing it slowly. After few days of being on the rod in the nature and not having much contact with cities was purifying my soul. I was getting lighter and lighter.
As I was climbing that hill, I remembered all those gifts I had for last few days. I was feeling so blessed and it was like a dream for me. Suddenly I began to cry hard and laud. Not because of pain, because of joy! Because of having a GOD who has been taking care of me that well. I had no word even to tell myself and crying was the only way of expressing my feelings, like a little kid when his mother cuddles him.
Sun was about to set and again a warm red color was covering colorful trees.
I looked down in one point where I could see the curve and bend of the road through the trees in that beautiful color.
it was not about beauty at all, it was not about even being in the nature neither being alone or being blessed, it was definitely more than that, like a true being in the universe and even not only about having pure joy and inner peace but also about the responsibility of carrying this peace with me and share it with others and doing something in our world. The responsibility which I feel it for some years now for doing something!
I hit the top and began to descend in the other side and by the time sun was already gone.
After 2-3 curves I found a little flat space which was facing to a vast valley and I pitched my tent just on the edge where I could open my tent to an enormous scene over the valley.
I see so many beautiful scenes and landscapes but still I have hunger to see more and more.
Next day I should have made it near the big town to stay there and go to the city next day to extend my visa. I checked my FB again and I got a message from Katie telling me that she won’t be there during the weekend and it would be nice if I can get there before or after. That message made me decides to just get to the city as soon as possible and take a bus to Chuncheon.
I was in Chuncheon around 8pm and I met Katie in station. Another FB friend was already a real one though and we rode home where I would stay for 2 days and we could share so many stories with Katie, Nikki and Stephen.
20 November 2013