Welcome to Korea

We arrived in Incheon later than expected, which meant that we would not arrive at the Memorial Monument at the appointed time to meet with Jessica – our Couchsurfing host. We needed to get a phone card so we could call Jessica, as we couldn’t find anyone who would lend us their phone. We found the lack of people with cell phones on the ferry to be rather odd actually. We suspect that many of the people on the ship were Chinese, and since Korea uses a different mobile phone standard than the rest of the world, their mobile phones wouldn’t work. Of course getting a phone card required that we first get some Korean Won. Fortunately, the port had an exchange both. Unfortunately, they only exchanged 100 Yuan notes – so we changed the 300 we had left and are stuck holding 97 Yuan in small notes (oops).

Yes, this is a church, not a museum, office building or art gallery
Yes, this is a church, not a museum, office building or art gallery

We got a free map of Incheon from tourist information to supplement the map in the Lonely Planet. This is the first time since the since the US that we have ridden into a city without a city map on the GPS. The lack of a decent map certainly posed an additional challenge!

We were surprised to find the riding rather stressful, although all the cars and trucks left a comfortable space as they passed. We did not see any other bikes – the streets of China were filled with pedal bikes and electric bikes. In Korea, we saw hardly any scooters and no bikes. We have entered the land of the automobile. The lack of bikes means a lack of bike lines, add to that road construction, and the riding stress levels increase. With the not so great maps, we ended up running into large overpasses without shoulders and tunnels – both of which Becky refuses to ride on unless there is no alternative. Fortunately, we were able to find an alternative route. What should have been a 7 km ride, turned into a 12 km one. Our other observation about Korea is that it is not flat. We can expect to ride through more hills here.

When we got close to Jessica and Terry’s house we called again, saying we were close to the LG and Hyundai apartment blocks and in front of a Korea Telecom building. We rode a little further and Jessica found us, but as she pointed out later, apartment blocks which say LG and Hyundai are everywhere, as are KT buildings, so a more unique landmark could have been useful. The Ferris Wheel was just around the corner, but we hadn’t seen it yet.

Before meeting up with Jessica, we noticed there were a large number of churches in Korea. Many of them had exotic modern architecture, but we didn’t take pictures – sorry. We had expected to see many Buddhist temples, but did not expect to see so much Christianity. According to the CIA World Fact book (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html#People), South Korea is comprised of 26.3% Christian (19.7% Protestant, 6.6% Roman Catholic), Buddhist 23.2%, and 49.3% claiming no religion.

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