I was about 60 miles into a 70 mile training ride. I had stopped at the Family Mart (pronounced ‘Pamily Martuh’) in Gwacheon for a very rare lemonade and a lollipop.
Family Mart is a general convenience store found all over Korea. They have tables and chairs outside and I enjoy sitting there people watching taking a break. What I also like is the fact that you can have a drink and a sit down and spend a dollar, rather than having to pay the rapacious prices of Starbucks or the like.
I was having my lollipop and nodded courteously to the middle aged chap sitting on the table adjacent to mine. He acknowledged me and initiated a conversation. A similarly aged chap on a table two tables from mine was ‘ear wigging’ and eventually joined in our conversation. They seemed pleased that I was not American.
Two more Koreans, fascinated, joined in the conversation, although they could not speak a word of English. It is ironic that I acted as a catalyst for a five way conversation, when my race is probably one of the most unfriendly, after the Russians, in the world. That has rarely happened to me in England.
We talked variously about how old I thought they were. Age is important here. We also talked about Qatar, Dubai, London and Manchester United. It was a special few minutes. When Koreans get over their seeming innate shyness, they are very warm and friendly people. M