Andong, South Korea, April 2017: My accommodation should only be a 10 minute walk from the station according to the Air bnb listing and after the 3 hour train ride from Seoul, a good walk is what I need right now. Conveniently located on the forecourt here is a tourist office but looking around the place there is a distinct lack of tourists – just me! All smiles from the 2 girls inside with their traditional Korean greetings. I get handed an A4 map of the town and a list of the local buses that will at some point pass the towns attractions – and what might they be, I don’t know yet, lets just see how this story unfolds!
Air bnb Shock: I’m shocked to find my accommodation is not as listed, completely the opposite in fact. So, instead of “1 private room with 1 single bed” turns out its a dormitory room with no beds. Yes, visitors here are expected to sleep on the floor on what I can only describe as a padded cloth about 2 inches thick. Having registered my utmost displeasure at the situation, the host found me a couple more of those 2 inch padded cloths and with the thick duvet on top of that, well, I actually couldn’t feel the ground. With promises of limiting any other visitors to the room, i might actually get a nights sleep!
Temple Art and Free Food: Having bitterly cursed the host, not out loud of course, I did actually have a good nights sleep on the pile of thin mattresses. They also provided cereal for breakfast with was welcome, saving me a small fortune on the food bill. Time now though to take an exploratory stomp around the area, get to feel for the place and figure out what I’m going to do with the next few days.
Compared to Seoul, the streets around here are quiet, deadly quiet with just the occasional pensioner stumbling around and the odd car whizzing through. The local temple is here too. These places are always good for a 10 minute nose around, pretending to be the cautious tourist which often ends up being invited in, a free local cup of tea and free reign to look the place over. This time however, if I come back at 12, they’ll give me a free lunch – an offer I just can’t refuse.
I’m not particularly into art and all things artisan, but this has to be admired here at the temple. Wall art decorates pretty much every corner of this multistory’d building. Scenes and expressions clearly hand crafted!
And the lunch, well it’s tasty enough. Rice, seaweed and the invariable concoction of spicy vegetable mixes along with noodles and soup. How hospitable the Koreans are. I would never expect this in London.