The Day of My Bicycle’s Big Day Out

A wonderful side effect of exam week at my school is that teachers are encouraged to ‘take a rest.’ After staring at my computer for three hours and a healthy, daily dose of kimchi and rice, I am free to spend my afternoon as I please.

One particular afternoon I decided to take my bicycle on a longer journey to the small, neighbouring town of Bongwha. The ride there was pleasant enough once I had ploughed through the outlying, industrial area of Yeongju. As usual, Korean friendliness accompanied my bicycle and I. As well as the steady flow of ‘hello,’ I also received an ice cream and cold water as I waited for a train to pass. Things could not be going any better.

I arrived in Bonghwa much quicker than I had expected and I proceeded to indulge in my second ice cream of the afternoon. It was hot so of course, I needed it.

The second ice cream may have tipped me over the edge. I looked at the time and realised that doing the return ride would interfere with my dinner. Bearing in mind, I have been known to become somewhat irritable without a meal every few hours, I did what all food lovers would have done and headed straight for the train station.

Negotiating taking my bicycle on the train comprised of a series of hand gestures and broken Korean, it took some time but ended in success. By now, I had completely forgotten about my bike ride but the people at the station had not. Word travelled fast and I was inundated with offers to carry my bicycle on and off the train, energy drinks and looks of awe. I started to forget the guilt I had been feeling for not cycling back and began to feel like a hero.

Since I have been in Korea I have spent at least 60% of my time feeling like a hero. The hero effect kicks in at school, around town and basically when I am doing any number of things. Koreans are not only generous with gifts, they are also liberal with praise. It is starting to grow on me. I will be in need of a major head deflation upon arrival in the UK. This should probably occur before I see any of my friends who will happily burst the bubble for me if I don’t do it myself.


About Happily Lost

A travel junkie working as an English teacher in South Korea.
This entry was posted in 365 Days in Korea and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Day of My Bicycle’s Big Day Out

  1. Anonymous says:

    The problem with the hero effect having experienced it myself teaching in Taiwan is that it makes going home so hard! I’ve been out here for 4 years now beacuse I don’t want to lose it!

    • Steve says:

      I can completely understand what you mean. I spent a year volunteer teaching in South Africa and experienced the same feelings. Make the most of it!

      • Anonymous says:

        I think teaching can produce the hero effect anywhere in the world. If you can engage the students and they take something away from your lesson the sense of achievement is amazing. Everyone remembers their favourite teachers and unfortunately the worst but if you can create a lightbulb moment for one student it has been worth it. Teaching can be tough but one good lesson can make it all worthwhile.

  2. Steve says:

    Everyone needs a hero! Excellent Post.

  3. Stuart says:

    Hey there,

    I stumbled upon your blog as I was looking for bicycle shops in Yeongju. I will be arriving there in about a month on a one-year teaching contract, and my girlfriend and I were looking to pick up a couple used (cheap) bikes to get us around town. About how much did you have to spend and whereabouts in the city was this shop located. Cheers!

    • Happily Lost says:


      There are three shops that I know of all in central locations. The city isn’t so big that they’ll be difficult to find, one is behind Lotte Mart, one on the way to river from Homeplus (both supermarkets so they are easy to find) and one is in the downtown area opposite the Fila store. Second hand bikes seem to go from around 60,000W and the new, basic bikes go from 100,000W and up depending on what you want. Ours were well worth the money. As and when you arrive give me a shout for more detailed directions…or we’ll bump into each other. That’s how it seems to go around here!

  4. Laura says:

    The train journey sounds hilarious!

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