May 11, 2018 – Day 79

Yeoju to Chungju (66 km)

We have now been asked three times how old we are. The first was yesterday when a young man at Dumulmeori observed that our cycling is a “happy end of life”. This was a bit disconcerting, but we know what he meant. Today, at the top of a hill after a steep climb, we chatted with a couple of cyclists who appeared to be our age. He, in fact, was 75 and his wife was 72.  He told us he has cycled from Seoul to Busan every year for the past 7 years. Again, in the restaurant this evening, the proprietor asked Paul his age when we told him that we were cycling to Busan!

On the way to see  Silleuksu Temple this morning, we were cycling on the sidewalk of a narrow street. We were slightly concerned when a Police car stopped next to us and the officer rolled down his window. But, he apparently just wanted to say hello and wished us luck on our trip!  We noticed a lot of activity on the way to the temple and saw a sign indicating a World ceramic festival was about to open. Yeoju is known as a major center of contemporary South Korean ceramics, and hosts the World Ceramic Exposition every year.

Silleuksu Temple, on the other hand, was quiet. It is a peaceful and contemplative place, a sacred pilgrimage site overlooking the river. The temple complex dates from the Silla period (57 BC to 934 AD), but was largely refurbished in the 15thC. A 500-year-old aromatic juniper tree and a 600-year-old ginkgo tree stand on the temple grounds.
The cycling was great again, although the route joined the highway more often today and we had more hills. But, the traffic was generally light and the roads good. We passed through agricultural land with many fruit trees, rice fields and crops of various products including garlic, sweet potatoes, corn, beans (or peanuts?).
We stopped in Buron for lunch at the Daori Haesu tofu restaurant where we had a wonderful vegetable-filled meal, with multiple side dishes including quail eggs. The sizzling rice was topped with walnuts, fava beans, persimmon and pumpkin seeds.

This evening, we asked the hotel receptionist to call a taxi so that we could go and eat in Chungju. He soon arrived at the the front of the hotel and drove us himself and also came back to pick us up.

Wildlife notes: Common Cuckoo – seen vocalizing in flight

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