Last Saturday, Domingos and I booked a tour offered by trazy.com for one of our last Korean outings. It was a full-day tour visiting three different locations in the Yangpyeong area: the Yangpyeong Rail Bike, the Dreamy Camera Cafe, and the Semiwon Lotus Festival.
We met our tour guide, Scott, outside Myeongdong Station at 8:30 in the morning. He ushered us to his very comfortable SUV, where we met the other couple taking the tour. When I introduced myself to them, it turned out that the woman, Cheryl, and I had been reading each other’s blogs for the past year! You can check out her excellent blog at twobrownfeet.com. We fell into instant, comfortable, animated conversation for the entire car trip, so much so that I got a crick in my neck from being turned around in my seat. (The men did contribute to the conversation as well!)
The 2+ hour drive seemed to fly by, despite the heavy traffic. Scott was worried that we would miss our 10:30 rail bike reservation, but we reassured him that we were all happy to roll with the circumstances if they needed to change. Everything you need to know about Scott can be extrapolated from his official business card, which lists him as:
He was funny, helpful, interesting, and well-traveled. He has lived in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and his English was better than many native English speakers I know.
We ended up arriving almost 15 minutes late, but we weren’t the only latecomers. The company had several rail bikes waiting so that we could still stay in our reservation window. We settled into our 4-person bike and since the staff was kind of rushing us, we all pedaled madly for the first few minutes and took off flying. It wasn’t long before we were a little too close to the bike car in front of us, so we relaxed into a more serene pace. Bumper cars not encouraged!
I have to say that the Gapyeong Rail Bike we did in 2016 was a better route, but this was more fun because we had great companions to enjoy it with. The rail wound alongside a road and a stream, and we had one tunnel (a welcome respite from the hot day).
At the halfway point, we caught up with the other 40+ bikes at the turnaround point. As the staff switched the direction of the bikes for the return trip, we grabbed a quick drink to cool off a bit. Everyone else on the journey had obviously been sitting around for quite a while, so I was glad for our late start!
On the way back, a beautiful butterfly landed on my shoulder. It actually stayed there for what felt like at least ten seconds, and it kept tapping my shoulder with its proboscis! It was the strangest feeling. I have no idea why it thought I was a flower; I was wearing a gray t-shirt. But it was a very cool experience!
After we finished with the rail bike, Scott took us to a nearby chicken galbi place for lunch.
At his suggestion, we ordered both a spicy galbi and a soy sauce one.
The chicken took a long time to cook, but the conversation was flowing and it turned out that Cheryl and Basil had never had somec, one of our favorite drinks here in Korea! We were introduced to it by my friend Ski after a gig I played with him last summer. You put a shot of soju in a drinking glass, then fill the rest of the glass with beer (we usually use Cass). The combination mellows out both drinks, and for me it is eminently more drinkable than having either alone. You have to watch yourself with it, though, as it can really sneak up on you! For example, here’s a selfie I took on the subway with my BFF sister-in-law Tracy after that first experience with somec. Domingos’s expression is priceless.
At any rate, one of the glasses the restaurant gave us had measuring lines on the side for the amount of soju and beer. We had seen these the first time we had somec, and Domingos has been wanting to find them ever since. Scott was kind enough to ask the waitress where we could find them, and the next thing we knew, she was bringing out a gift bag for each couple with two of the glasses inside! It was so kind and it totally made Domingos’s day!
Lunch was delicious and we happily set off for our next destination, the Dreamy Camera Cafe. Stay tuned for Part 2…