Hyeonpung is a tiny town - perhaps the smallest we’ve stayed in yet. There’s not much going on except for a bus terminal, some restaurants along a main road, and the obligatory convenience stores. With Mt. Biseul soaring in the background, everything seems dwarfed in comparison. This isn’t a place that you make a specific trip out for, but it was in the right spot when we needed it, so here we are.

It had been another long day, and we stopped at the first decent motel that we saw called the Hong-C. You can’t miss it - it’s directly to your left as you enter the town coming in from our direction. Be forewarned though that it is on top of a massively steep hill, so you’ll probably have to get off and push like we did. They have an underground garage with spaces just for bikes, and we were greeted inside by an enthusiastic proprietor who probably thought we were the most exciting thing she’s seen since packaged pre-made rice.

She proceeded to show us three rooms, each one grander and more expensive than the last, which was kind of her but entirely unnecessary, and Jess had to awkwardly turn her down each time by repeating the same sentence over and over again in Konglish.

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Oddly patriotic British bench by the vanity. Second hotel in as many days where this is a motif.

Oddly patriotic British bench by the vanity. Second hotel in as many days where this is a motif.

A Korean motel first: this one came equipped with its own  hair straightener .

A Korean motel first: this one came equipped with its own hair straightener.

At 50,000 won, it’s the most expensive room we’ve stayed in since Seoul, but we weren’t about to go shopping for another hotel, and we didn’t really begrudge them it anyway, because the quality was excellent.

We really had zero expectations for this town, but much to our surprise, it ended up charming us. We discovered a second main road that ran parallel between a canal, and experienced a nice, village-y feel that was decidedly missing from Gumi. On one of the side streets, we nipped into a fried chicken place for some proper spicy KFC and beers before doing our customary post-dinner 7-Eleven stop for dessert.

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Unusually, this convenience store didn’t have anywhere outside to sit, so we went to the Dalseong Citizens Gymnasium right next to our hotel and played cards on a marble bench. There was a hospital nearby, so some of its more mobile patients were also hanging out, saline drips in tow. The other bench was occupied by a group of gossipy old Korean ladies who shared the universal perm haircut and were giggling over the state of their childrens’ love lives. It really doesn’t matter where you come from - grannies everywhere are all the same. That brought a smile to our faces, and that’s what we’ll remember the most about Hyeonpung.

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Spectacular Vegas light show courtesy of our hotel. It felt like we were at the cinema.

Spectacular Vegas light show courtesy of our hotel. It felt like we were at the cinema.

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When you’re out in the sticks like we are, you sometimes end up having to make your own fun. So after a game of rummy, we spent the next 10 minutes trying to decipher the word “citizens” and “gymnasium” from the flashing letters on the building. Neil thought it apt that the second-last character looks like a person balancing on one leg.

When you’re out in the sticks like we are, you sometimes end up having to make your own fun. So after a game of rummy, we spent the next 10 minutes trying to decipher the word “citizens” and “gymnasium” from the flashing letters on the building. Neil thought it apt that the second-last character looks like a person balancing on one leg.

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