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Theorbo player Lynda settles in to local life in South Korea.
Saturday 27th February
Today was a much-appreciated rest day to allow us all to recover from the journey and to settle into our new time zone. It also gave an opportunity to learn more about Daejeon and the local culture. Breakfast in the hotel restaurant – on the 18th floor – afforded an almost aerial view of our surroundings, and drove home the contrast between the high rise city and the nearby heavily-wooded hills:
Immediately adjacent to the hotel is a mini-golf course, rather curiously tucked in amongst commercial buildings and dominated by a less than mini golfer sculpture:
This morning a group of us went for a walk along the Gap River, which runs just a block from our hotel, heading for Yuseong Spa, a thermal foot bath which is one of the main attractions of the city. This is the dry season and water levels on the river are currently very low, enabling us to cross on one of several stepping stone causeways which are probably underwater in the rainy season…
The resulting areas of reedbed and marsh are a haven for lots of birds, many of which are not found in the UK. I think these two are a spot-billed duck and a Japanese wagtail:
And this one’s a teal – which does occur in the UK but I’ve never seen one there.
The wildlife was a pleasant distraction from what became a rather prolonged expedition. The foot spa is listed in all of the tourist information sites as one of the main attractions of Daejeon, but was surprisingly hard to find. After walking for about 2 hours we finally found a sign:
The spa is a free public foot bath much used by locals and clearly something of a social gathering point. The etiquette is to park your shoes to claim a seat, wash your feet, then immerse them in this long bath of fairly hot water.
The temperature varies somewhat along the length and some sections of the bath have round stones inset in the bottom to provide a very effective foot massage as you walk over them. When you’ve been in a short while you move up to the bath at the very top where the water is significantly hotter.
It was wonderfully relaxing, and the locals were incredibly friendly, showing us what to do and making us feel very welcome. Here is Nick (Logie, viola) getting an impromptu massage from one of the locals:
Our feet suitably refreshed, we tried one of the local restaurants for lunch. Most menus are in Korean only but we found one with some English translations, though sometimes perhaps it’s better not to know!
Only Andy was brave enough to try this dish, but between us we enjoyed a selection of soups, Chinese-style dumplings and kimchi. Note the very low tables behind us – sitting cross-legged on the floor to dine is quite common in Korea.
To complete our Daejeon experience we caught a bus back across town to our hotel, seeing some parts of the city which we would otherwise have missed. I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon doing some theorbo practice in my hotel room, which is a significantly less photogenic activity than our excursion this morning. Touring schedules are often so hectic that we leave a city having seen little or nothing of the place or the local culture, so it was a delight to have this little window of time to experience something very special and local to this place.