[Travel]Tommy's Bike Trip
[Travel]Tommy's Bike Trip
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  • 승인 2007.07.27 15:13
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Julian Warminton, Instructor Center for International Programs/
Yoshiaki Tominaga With His Bike
   It's a quiet corner of a Busan Starbucks one sunny afternoon, as Tommy tells the story of his cycle trip around Korea. It's a long way for anyone to push a bicycle, but, in these days of the Dokdo Island wrangle, it could be even further for a solo Japanese man and his loaded road bike. His well tanned face smiles out from under straggly black hair, as he introduces himself as Yoshiaki Tominaga, 28 years old, from Chiba near Tokyo.
JW: Why did you choose Korea for a bike trip?
T: Because it took two weeks from Chiba to Hakada, so this was a journey in itself where I could see places that were new to me in Japan. And I wanted to use the ferry to get to another country. Using the airplane would mean I would have to take the tires off the bike.
   In 2002 I did go to Seoul. I became interested in Korea then, and had wanted to go back again. I came to see the football stadiums before the World Cup, and just to visit another country. 
JW: How was the trip around Korea?
T: There is not much difference between Japan and Korea, but thinking is a little different. Korean thinking about Japan is different. I met many people and talked about Japan and Korea.
   It was a good experience for me. I got to understand Korean people's thinking in that Japan still has a bad image since the war. Japanese people don't know that Koreans still feel bad about the things Japan did during the war. We must not forget, but must change, and be more kindly. This is very important.
   I was talking with a young Korean woman when I was in Gyeongju. We met in the guest house, and were watching TV. We talked about Dokdo, or Takeshima. She said: 'What do you think about Takeshima?' I told her, we don't have much information, and young people don't think about it much, but she said: 'Dokdo is OUR island!'
   Japanese people my age don't care, and have no information about it, so have no opinion. It was very interesting that she had a very strong opinion.
   One other Korean person I met, who was over 60 years old, and had no English nor Korean language, he said: 'Koizumi is doing very bad!' Maybe he was talking about Takashima. Maybe Koizumi is crazy or something, but we have to talk more between countries with each other.
JW: Was there anything else that you found interesting or surprising, on your trip around the country?
T: Korea is very similar to the USA, in terms of roads and signs. I was an exchange student in Ohio when I was 17 years old. Small towns in Ohio are very similar, if they only have one convenience store, a small shopping area, and narrow roads.
   Ajummas seem very strong, with their working hard in the markets, street stalls, and doing long hours. Maybe they do everything in the house, too. Younger people seem not much different to those in Japan, but older people seem to work much harder, especially the ajummas.

JW: What was the most interesting thing you saw?
T: Young women wearing weird and strange colors, all bright yellow, or all bright red. One difference between Japan and Korea is that in Japan we lift our rice bowls up to eat, but in Korea they don't.
   Selling things on trains is different. It looks fun, but in Japan it would be considered too noisy.
   Korean drivers tooted horns many times at me when I was on my bicycle in an angry way, but I didn't care.
   I saw many dead birds on the road, hit by cars, all around the country.
JW: Where did you go?
T: From Busan I went to Ulsan, Gyeongju, and then spent three days on the east coast road #7 to the DMZ. I went bungee jumping in Inje. I was very afraid but it was very fun. Then I went to Yangju, Chuncheon and to Seoul for four days. Then I went to Suwon, and on road #23 to Nonsan, Jeonju, Mokpo, and Jejudo for three days. I then took the ferry to Tongyeong, Jinju and back to Busan.
   Tongyeong to Jinju was the longest trip I did in one day. I started that day at 8:30 A.M. and finished at 8:00 P.M. It rained a lot that day.
JW: Of the places you saw, which is your favourite?
T: I like Jeju Island. The tall mountain, sea all around, many kind people, lots of countryside, and not much city area.
   The east coast was very beautiful, and Jejudo. I don't remember the west area, south of Seoul, but the east coast was very beautiful.
JW: What did you eat? What was your favourite food?
T: I like ramyon, kimbap, and bibimbap (and, they're easy to remember). I love ice cream, and trying the many, many flavours. Somebody said tomato is a fruit in Korea. The tomato ice cream bar was very surprising to me. We think of tomato as a vegetable, so the flavour was very weird, but good.
  Koreans like pizza. There are many pizza restaurants, some right next door to each other. And using a spoon and knife to eat pizza was different.
  I like dwejji gukbap. It was very tasty; it was great, I liked it a lot. The sangyup-sal  was very good. And I like makoli.

JW: What single thing do you think made the strongest and most lasting impression on you during the trip? What will be the most enduring memory of the journey for you?
T: A Japanese person in Seoul said: 'Even though we are neighbouring countries, we are still far away from each other.' She said it was good that Japanese young people are starting to think about Korea. Korean young people are starting to think about Japan in a positive way. She hoped it would lead to a better relationship.
    I think Korean culture is now widely available in Japan, like food such as bibimbap, and movies such as Shiri, JSA, and Brotherhood (Taeguki), and those famous actors, so we can start to know a bit about Korea.
    And I love BoA. She is very pretty. She is so cute!

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