After all that unexpected extra time in the saddle, we were even more famished than usual when we rolled into Namji-eup, and stopped in front of the first restaurant we could find. Beggars can’t be choosers, and in this case, a fast food joint just inside the city limits would have to do. Turns out that the cycling gods were smiling upon us after all, because we demolished a set meal with 2 chicken burgers, fried chicken, fries, and cola in a matter of minutes, and only paid 17,000 won for the lot. In our state we’d have eaten a scabby horse, so our perception of the food’s quality may have been a bit skewed, but it seemed a cut above normal fast food.
Sitting amongst the wreckage of our plunder, we smiled at each other across the table and felt relief seeping into our bones.
This is another one of those fly-by towns, and we knew from the start that we wouldn’t be doing much here other than eating and resting. That was perfectly fine with us, as we were fed up and good for nothing at this point and just wanted a space to put the head down and relax. After perusing the customary Motel Row, we came across the Heitz Hotel (spelled “Heights” on Naver Maps), which opened last October and was so clean you could eat your dinner off the floor.
The proprietor apologetically asked if a “disabled room” would be acceptable for us, which we discovered was like any other room but with wider doors and more space to move about for wheelchair accessibility. To be honest, a broom cupboard under the stairs would have sufficed as long as it had a bed to collapse onto, but we were pleasantly surprised to see just how much 45,000 won got us. It’s probably the best hotel we’ve stayed in yet, with all the usual trimmings.
Because we had had such a late lunch, we weren’t hungry by the time 8 PM rolled around, but we had to eat something lest we pay for it the next day. We knew by now that small towns shut down early, so we had to get a move on. As we walked past one closed establishment after another, we were starting to worry that we’d end up with nothing more than a 7-Eleven sandwich and a bag of crisps.
Luckily, a Chinese restaurant was still just about serving, and we got there in the nick of time. Some dumplings and pork tempura plus beers set us back 18,000 won, and the owner thought Jess was pretty so she offered us a free appetizer of salted seaweed sheets to snack on.
The way home was slightly sinister, as there were no street lights whatsoever and the path was shrouded in darkness. We also noticed that there were a surprising a number of foreigners on the street for such a small town, but they weren’t of the touring kind. Reckoning that there must be a factory or plant nearby that employed all of these people, as there really wasn’t any other explanation, we thought nothing of it at first.
Then, a man walked towards us from the opposite direction, said “Hey” to Neil, and then proceeded to shove him before vanishing into the night. After checking that we still had our phones and wallets, we scurried back to our hotel and stayed there until the morning. Some say that it’s the cities which are dangerous and where you have to look out for yourself. But as city people, we found the countryside an equal opportunity employer when it came to stranger things.