I met an old man once on a bus ride near Jeonju; I was going hiking. The man was 80 years old and really wanted to talk to me. I don’t know if it was just to practice his English or because he was curious about me, but he wouldn’t let me read my book. That’s ok, it was a really interesting conversation. I love old men on buses, some of my best memories are due to them!
The old man on this bus ride near Jeonju told me a little bit about himself, and I didn’t even have to ask. He’s a poli-sci professor at a university in Jeonju. Speaks Japanese since he lived through the last Japanese occupation/invasion. Always remembered his English from his school days.
He told me I shouldn’t be travelling alone because it’s dangerous. I couldn’t believe it.
I think Korea is the safest country in the world. No one (except foreigners) would ever think of picking pockets or stealing or any other misfortune travellers usually fear. You don’t need to be aware of your surroundings all the time, no fear of walking alone at night. Never. Not even in the big cities.
When I asked him why it was dangerous, he said it was because if something happened, I wouldn’t have a friend there to help me. I guess maybe he thought I might twist an ankle on the mountain.
But why would I need a friend to help me? Koreans are so nice that if you ask for directions to somewhere, they’ll go out of their way to take you there (no more waving me away now that I know a few Korean words).
And the mountains are always covered with Korean hikers; you’re never alone for long.
This old man on that bus ride near Jeonju, he was a character. At first, he asked me if I was a man or a woman. My short hair throws them off. Ha ha ha!
He got serious after a while, asked me about my religion. When I told him I don’t have one, he grew silent. I thought I had offended him, but I still asked him about his religion. His answer:
I don't have a religion, either. I'm Confucian. I have moral beliefs, but no religion.
Wow, I didn’t see that coming!