(Australia) I am stuck due to Pandemic. Do I have to give up my dream now?

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I got injured while doing kite surfing on the beach in New Zealand. It was hurt to take care of all this luggage around at the airport. (I didn’t need the black thing holding my shoulder after a week and all the pain was gone after one and half months .)

 

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When I cycled in the outback, I had met an old couple traveling caravan. They told me if I needed a place to stay in Sydney, they can invite me. So I asked them and they told me I can stay for a week until I meet my mom. Also, they allowed me to leave my bicycle and bags while I travel with my mom.

 

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It was good to see my mom and to spend time together for the New Year. I chose to travel to Sydney and Melbourne where I have been so that I could make a plan easily. The news of the bush fire was bigger and I was worried. While touring Sydney, it was oaky.

 

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When we took an airplane, we could see a fire cloud.

 

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Bush fire happened every year in East and South Australia. Even some plants must need fire to spread seeds. But the problem was this year fire was too big. I hoped it calmed down soon.
I felt sorry that I chose the wrong time to travel.

 

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However, the weather was so amazing when we toured Great Ocean Road. I chose a Korean tour company so that my mom could understand what a Korean guide explained. There was one shocking thing I found. Everyone used a smartphone to take the picture. Some of them came from Korea after paying for expensive flights, but used a phone camera? seriously? It seemed like the time was changed that Dslr and compact camera were not popular anymore in South Korea.

 

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After two weeks, my mom went back home. I moved to a friend’s house where I stayed last year for a few days. It was good to see friends in Melbourne. There was heavy rain that my flight was delayed to the next day. (After one month, there was lots of rain and the bush fire stopped.)
I realized I didn’t drink this year cause I was staying with my mom who was a non-drinker. I just got an idea about stopping to drink alcohol. Surprisingly it was so easy that I didn’t miss it.

 

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After back to Sydney, I got back my bicycle and bags. It was in the middle of January. I wanted to go to Fiji after finishing uploading my blog and youtube.
I write a blog to share the story with the people. But the biggest reason is for me to understand my trip and myself.
“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke
This is my favorite quote and this can explain why I write the blog.
When I write the blog, I can organize my thought and I can learn more things cause I have to research to provide the fact such as history, politics, culture, and so on.

 

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First three years of my trip, I had posted three to four times every month. But once I have delayed my blog, it was impossible to catch over five years because of ADD, pressure (maybe from perfectionist), procrastinating habit, and etc. So this time I did want to catch badly so that I can finish my trip without the pressure this year. I decided to pay expensive money to have my own flat to concentrate on for a month. But it was the biggest waste of money because I couldn’t concentrate on with the pressure. I just went to the library later.

 

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I was working hard actually on updating my blog and youtube later. Then I heard some news about the virus. I felt I had seen this kind of news always like Ebora virus, Flaviviridae, Cholerae, and so on. But it never affected my life, so I didn’t care about it.
On the 23rd of January, there was big shocking news about Wuhan, China that would be locked down because of Coronavirus. That news was really scary. I kept tracking their case numbers that I couldn’t concentrate on updating anymore. Then I got too shocked to believe that my country became the second biggest country having coronavirus cases. I was hesitating to go to Fiji because of news showing a big bully against Asians all over the world.
As time passing without deciding where to go, I couldn’t buy a toilet paper, which I didn’t understand. Why suddenly there was no toilet paper.

 

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I asked the worker why there was no toilet paper. He said “There was someone who died from Coronavirus in Australia and people got panic and buy things.”.
I did need toilet paper for my next day of the good morning as I ran out of it. I just went to the Office work store and buy a handtowel which left as the last one. The next day it was not a good morning. It hurt and I got so annoyed. Then furstrated.. Where I have to be angry at? What’s the point when it happened already. I cannot change anything that what’s the point to be angry…so frustrating.
At least I was glad I did travel with my mom in January without changing the plan to March.

 

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I took this picture on the 18th of March. A European tourist asked me to take the picture of her. I had a small talk with her. She said she would travel to Japan and other Asian countries and then go back home. I asked her she was not worried about being stuck in the country. But she said it would be alright. However, she prepared a huge hand Sanitizers and shared it with me after taking the photo.
I kept seeing the news of the border closing. So I decided no to go to Fiji but to Taiwan. On 17th of March, I hurried to find the box for the bicycle to take the airplane in the next day. But I couldn’t find it. So I decided to go on the weekend with the hope they kept opening the border. But when I went out to a city center on 18th of March, my Taiwanese friend texted me that their country decided to close the border on 19th. I was already too late.
I went back to my accommodation and suddenly cried a lot. I couldn’t stop it. I suddenly got a big headache. I got shocked that I am stuck in Australia. How can I survive in this expensive country without work? And soon I realized why I cried so badly. I had to give up my dream by Covid19. I have had the dream of crossing North Korean border to go back to South Korea. I thought if I survive from cycling six continents, I can try this dream and show the world the peace which is hidden by politics. But now this dream became impossible.

 

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Panic buy became worse that the selves were empty. (It started in February and it was really bad for around two months. It got better and better and from June, it stopped and I could buy things normally.)

 

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I didn’t want to go back home without trying my dream, crossing the North Korean border to go back home. So I decided to stay in Australia and see how it goes. I was scared of being attack by racism that happened by Covid19. I had been bullied on the street from time to time in Melbourne last year so it made me more scared at this unusual time. And generally, I was chicken that I had more fear at everything than other people. So I moved to a Korean town and rented a room in a Korean shared house. But that house was just gloomy as the pandemic. The person who rented the whole house lied to me before I moved that she was not trustful. And Reverse culture shock made me hard to adjust. I left South Korea in 2010 and I had never been back home. The last time I stayed at the house of several Korean people living was like five or six years ago. Housemates didn’t respect basic things like clean after using it, which made worse. By study, reverse culture shock can stress out and give a big frustration more than culture shock.
I tried to save up money to survive longer. I stopped buying my favorite thing like Cheese, Greek Yogurt, Nice Bread, and so on. After a while, I got used to it. Still, I couldn’t find toilet paper. There was only chocolate on shelves of toilet paper. Should I have to use it for my good sweet morning?

 

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In April, Covid19 spread not only in China, Italy, Korea, but also to the world. Australia decided to shut down as well. In Sydney, the restaurant could give only take out food. The government allowed people to go out for specific reasons like hospitals, exercise, working, grocery shopping, public office, and a few more. Also, they prohibited gathering more than five people. Then I saw more than five people playing together. I wanted to call the police to report but I didn’t want to get bothered. What if they said “You are the one spreading Virus. So none of your business” Being Asian abroad made me so small during the pandemic cause this virus started from Asia. I hoped someone reported them. But no one did.. This Covid19 kept making me annoyed and frustrated.

 

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One toilet paper which I got at the city center luckily was about to run out and still, I couldn’t buy it. Whenever I went to a supermarket and see empty shelves, I got so frustrated. Seeing empty shelves made me depressed cause it showed how this pandemic was bad. I told Korean friends “You must feel lucky and be thankful to buy a toilet paper without the problem.” Actually, it was weird that South Korea was the second biggest country having Covid19 cases, but there was no panic buy.
One of the followers sent me a message that he could get one for me. He was working at the supermarket and the worker at the supermarket could buy it easily. He gave me a hand sanitizer too. The happiest time I had since Pandemic was when I get toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Where this life was going on?

 

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I went walking near the park or supermaket but always stayed only in this area. The plant was growing on my bicycle. I had to be brave to go out today cause South Korea was having a general election.

 

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I was scared of racism bully against Asia after Covid19 that I just cycled to the Korean embassy although I wanted to use a train.

 

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I had never missed any election while traveling the world.

 

I made Vlog of it.

 

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On the way back home, I saw Opera House. It was empty. But when I went to the park right next, I could see people there. It seemed like Opera House was only for foreign tourists.

 

I made the video of Sydney’s street during shut down.

 

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After I went to the city center, I got more courage. Moreover, Australia had a better situation in May and I got a few contacts from followers. I went hiking with them and cycled together.

 

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I stayed at a gloomy Korean shared house for over two months. Actually, after one month, I said I wanted to move out. Then I got a discount. But after the second month, I really didn’t want to stay there. So I found a cheap place through Airbnb near the mountain 20 km far. I might stay for a week and see how it would go. Then the state government announced people could travel from the 1st of June. I decided to sell my climbing gear before moving out. I threw away the harness cause it was a cheap one that I didn’t want to hear any accident after selling it.

 

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When I couldn’t buy toilet paper, I bought a guitar to get over my frustration. But I hardly improved my playing. I just sold it for the same price as I got.
I had played online chess a lot during staying in this house. Chess.com was an amazing website. The address looked like a scam, but it was a real chess website. I called Nathan who cycled together and won the chess against me in New Zealand. Finally, I won against him online chess. But I was addicted to it that I closed my account and opened again endlessly. Sometimes I closed my account cause I got annoyed after keeping lost games. I made the account name simply; Bird_03. So far I reached Bird_29. Too many birds had died on that chess.com. RIP…

 

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The previous house was really noisy right next to the road, but the new house was quiet. Unfortunately, they watched TV so loudly every night that it was impossible to have a quiet night. But it was still better.

 

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I stayed for another week to prepared for traveling. The house owner asked me to take care of their dog for a few days and I got a bit discount to stay as well. It was good to walk together.

 

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I would be brave to hit the road again. I could cycle only in NSW, the current state cause Queensland, the next state, closed the border. So I would just cycle slowly to Queensland and wait until they opened the border. I bought a big pot cause my other pot was small that always water was overflow. It was only A$44 (U$31) which as so good deal cause it was from a good New Zealand brand.

 

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I bought a red sleeping mattress as well. I got the orange one in Paris from the host. It was half broken that they were about to throw away. It was still useful although air came out after a few hours. So I used the yellow mattress together which I bought at the beginning of my trip in San Francisco. It was not comfortable to sleep but somehow I managed to sleep.

 

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But recently it was totally broken on the valve. The new one was on the sail that I paid only A$67 (U$47) which was extremely cheap with this quality. The valve was quite big that it was a bit hard to blow air but except that it was perfect! Similar weight and size like the previous one.

 

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I got my first compact camera when I was 15 years old and I bought DSLR camera when I was 20 years old with the money I made from a part-time job. I always had DSLR on this trip. But recently I didn’t use it much in the city that I used more a smartphone camera. So I sold it for A$400불 ($283).

 

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But a phone camera had limitations like it cannot take the night sky picture. So I bought a secondhand high-end camera, Canon Powershot G5X Mark ii.

 

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I reckoned I changed the green rubber on the top of the handlebar grip in Colombia. It was worn out that I changed after seven years.

 

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I decided to hit the road again. I went shopping, fix a few things on a bicycle, and checking camping gear. Everything was ready.
I had a bad headache since March because of being shocked. For one month, it was quite bad. But it got better. When I was about to leave, I didn’t have a headache anymore. I didn’t get a headache usually so it was a new thing for me.

 

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After hitting the road again after six months, I was so surprised on my first day. Someone, 83 years old man on a bicycle, talked to me, Asian during the Pandemic. It seemed he was not afraid of anything and he was so opened mind. Frankly speaking, I was so worried about cycling again as being Asian during the pandemic as we all know it started from Asia. So I was so afraid of what if someone said “Are you traveling to spread your own country’s virus?” Unlike my worries, people were nice and they didn’t mind talking to me. I was so thankful and I got the courage to keep going from them.

 

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But I did need another courage for wild camping. It was so scary cause I didn’t do wild camping for one year by myself.

 

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The next day I found a hidden place, but it was still scary. I didn’t know why I had a big fear although I had the experience of wild camping in Australia last year a lot. In the morning, it was so good to see I was still alive.

 

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I liked to sit and have the rest next to the road.

 

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It had been a long time to see Kangaroo.

 

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Although I was so afraid of wild camping, I kept doing this.

 

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When I went to a hostel, the owner told me I would use the room only by myself without any extra cost due to Covid19.

 

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This YHA was so big and clean. But I felt sorry for the owner that I was the only guest. At the weekend, there were some guests. But then on Monday, I was only one guest. I hoped the owner stayed strong and overcomed this crisis.

 

I had a live stream when I was at the hostel.

 

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The next state border was still closed that I just cycle slowly around.

 

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One night, I couldn’t find wild camping spots because of fences everywhere and there was no hostel. So I asked local people to set up my tent in their garden. But I was denied a few times. I couldn’t forget that one guy made a very angry face at me.
Last year I got permission easily in Australia. Sometimes they allowed me to set up my tent and I had never seen them again. I just slept in their yard without any further communication after getting permission. But I felt things were changed that this kind of permission was not allowed even. I decided to not ask local people for now. I just appreciated that there were people talking to me on the street during the pandemic.

 

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I just had so much time to wander around. I had to take off my socks and shoes to cross. water

 

I made a live stream cause there was a reception. By the way, there was no crocodile in NSW that it was safe to cross.

 

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I found some interesting couples staying at the farm from Warmshower hosting website. I sent them a message and they were happy to host me.

 

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The road to their house was quiet that I loved it.

 

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The sun went down at 5 pm, so I always rushed to set up my tent at the opened place. I set up my tent again next to a small dirt road. I hoped no one passed. It made me nervous and wake up often at the midnight. Why I was so afraid of doing wild camping? Where my courage disappeared??? Come on!!

 

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I had stayed at Tom and Tanya’s farmhouse. It was really quiet in the forest.

 

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A horse walked to me suddenly and I was so afraid. I stepped backward slowly. Then I tried to be closed again and the horse was so calming. I learned that when the horse was friendly, they walked to people. But they were huge so it was scary to see them coming. I hanged out with them more often after realized it was friendly horses.

 

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I enjoyed the night sky.

 

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After inland, I head to the seaside. I had just reached 80,000km (4,9709mi). I was cycling so slowly just like my natural personality.

 

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One of my followers sent me a message through my travel Facebook page. They said they live in Old Bars and they liked to invite me to their house. I was wondering what kind of town it was. But actually, it was nothing related to a drinking bar. The town was such a peaceful and beautiful place next to the sea. I was so impressed that people invited me into their house during Pandemic. I appreciated it more than before.
By the way, it had been seven months since I stopped drinking. I was so proud of it. I would promise I would not drink anything at Old Bars.

 

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Tom and Rhonda were so kind and friendly. I really liked them. They recommended me to stay longer but I got the plan to cycle with Tanywa which I met at the farm last week. When Tom put the hand on my shoulder for taking a picture, I was a bit surprised cause I usually didn’t touch people like having a handshake or hug since Covid 19. It was good to feel a warm human’s temperature. I realized how our normal life was grateful and I missed it.

 

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Rhonda liked cycling so much. So I let her cycle my bicycle. It made me always smile to see people cycle my bike. I hoped people had the experience of cycling the world through my bicycle.

 

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I met Tanya again and we would cycle around. She had a knee injury a few years ago. So we cycled slow, which I liked cause to cycle fast gave me pressure.

 

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It was such a quiet place to cycle.

 

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At the entrance of the camping site, I saw the bird laying an egg. I was so thankful that it was not a magpie. The most dangerous animal was Magpie in Australia cause they attacked humans during the nesting season. (Remember the next dangerous animal is a drop bear which makes Australia famous as the most dangerous country for animals.)

 

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I was wondering why to lay egg on the grass where people pass. Maybe it was too emergency suddenly but there was no ambulance to help her. Hope it raised a baby well.

 

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Such a beautiful sea

 

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It was so cheap that we paid each $15 for this amazing sea view.

 

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Oh, it was so adorable to see the baby on the pouch.

 

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It was good to have the rest.

 

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After saying goodbye to Tanya, I cycled on the north.

 

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I could see pelicans more often these days. It was so funny to see that one bird was holding fish and other birds were following quietly.

 

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I stayed at the hostel in Port Macquarie. The maximum was only two people in a dormitory room. They gave plates separately.. um.. all guests would share kitchen utensils though… This hostel looked a bit busy. I was glad about it for the owner. It was a school holiday and I had noticed that all the hotel and camping sites were full. Only international hotels were kind of empty. I hoped people having business survived from this crisis.

 

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When I walked next to rocks having a painting, I saw someone drawing. So I talked to them. The lady was from France and the man was from Italy. Both of them had lived here longer but I could hear their accent. It was funny that the guy was teasing her and to hear it with their own accent, I felt like I was watching a movie.

 

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I got a chance to paint as well.

 

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This city was amazing that I could see the dolphins easily. I got the good news that the next state border was opened. I decided to cycle a bit faster cause I would never know when the state border would be closed.

 

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While cycling from Sydney to Gold Coast, I just remembered my forgotten dream, going back home through North Korea. But I was so afraid to apply it. In South Korea, it was the most sensitive political topic. So many people would criticize me if this goes viral and my world tour would be ignored and blamed. Although I had this dream since I started traveling in 2011, I hardly talked cause I didn’t want to mess my trip with politics.
No individual Korean traveler could cross the border and now there was the pandemic that it was impossible of impossible. Why open a can of worms? But I didn’t want to go back home without trying my dream. I needed the courage to go through all the criticism.
After lots of thoughts, I decided to try my dream. I would make a video about it and apply a national petition to get attention from the media once I reach Gold Coast. If many people would support, maybe both of the government would hear me. While waiting for the answer, I would try to learn surfing. Before winter comes, I would love to go back to my home, South Korea. I always wanted to cycle there to explore my own country.

 

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After thinking for a while on a bicycle, I decided to be brave and write it on my facebook page.

At the beginning of the trip, when people asked “Where are you from?”, I answered “I am from Korea.” as I learned from school. But people always asked back “South or North?”. It makes me think about my country a lot. Korea has 5,000 years of the same history and we speak the same language and have the same culture. But due to the cold war, we were divided into two countries. It has been 75 years and so many Korean people died without seeing and contacting their family after Korean war in 1953. I felt this is the most tragic thing in our 5,000 years of history.
And I was frustrated at how come I cannot see half of Korean peninsula when I can see the whole world including dangerous countries. I have started dreaming of going back home through North Korea since I started the trip in 2011. I decided that I will not go back home by plane but by crossing the N.K border. That’s why I’ve never been back home in the last 8 years.
I have imagined so many times on a bicycle about crossing the N.K border to get home that sometimes I became very emotional on a bicycle. As a South Korean passport holder, it is never possible to cross the border. But at least I wanted to try. I saw some foreign motorcyclists crossed N.K and some foreigner got permission to explore N.K mountain several times. So I thought there might be 0.00000000001% of chance to get permission for me.
I have waited for the good news to see when the good time is to send the letter. In January of 2020, both governments talked about opening individual trip. I thought this is the perfect year to finish my trip. Then suddenly Covid19 was spreading and I was stuck in Australia. (Even recently there was a bad situation politically between S.K and N.K.) I didn’t want to go home suddenly that I applied for a new visa after paying lots of money. But now that visa is about to expire on 18th of August. There is no country I can go to and wait as all borders are closed in the world.
So I accept that it is time to finish my trip. But there is one thing which I always say and this word makes my trip possible “You never know. Just try. If you give up without trying, that’s the real failure.” I have sent the letter to the Ministry of Unification in South Korea. Also, I sent an email to tour agencies having N.K tour, people who traveled N.K individually, S.K politicians, media, and so on to get any advice or help.
I suggested in the letter that I will have Covid19 test before crossing the border and cycle on only small roads to avoid spreading virus and take care of hygiene and follow rules with guards.
I want to go back home through the N.K border to show the Korean people and the world that we are all connected.
I have this dream with deep sadness in my heart while pedaling for the last 8 years. It’s not about exploring a new place but overcoming my country’s sad history. I feel the way back home is too far away.

 

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I set up my tent at the beautiful place.

 

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But it started raining in the morning.

 

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I packed while having rain.

 

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I cycled on mud. The rain stopped in the afternoon and I tried to clean all dirt at the park.

 

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This hostel was totally different than any other hostels I stayed in. All the rooms were full and even there were no windows that the air was so bad. So they actually leave the door opened. It was like a worker’s camp. All of them were people working at the farm. I was wondering the hostel was following the regulation of the government about Covid19

 

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After it, I went to Byron Bay. It was full of people that I was wondering why it was so busy.

 

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I had stayed at YHA hostel and it was full of local travelers. But at least they made sure that only two persons were in the dormitory room. I wanted to do wild camping, but tomorrow I would cross the state border. I wanted to make sure if they asked me where I slept, I wanted to show the address.

 

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I reckoned this was the biggest hostel I had stayed in.

 

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Before leaving, I checked around the town. This was really nice town that the atmosphere was so good. I wanted to stay longer but I was not sure when the border would be closed again. So I just decided to go to Gold Coast directly.

 

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I cycled on the highway to cross the border today. I hoped they allowed me to cross the border without the problem.


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6 Comments
  1. Hi Jin, happy to see that toilet paper and the hand sanitiser made you so happy on that photo. Sorry I could not meet you at the time, my wife was pregnant and she wanted me to avoid meeting anyone since the virus would have been dangerous for the baby.
    Hope you manage to travel through the DPRK.
    Jovan

    • Hi Jovan, thank you for giving me the most important thing during a crisis. No worries about to not meet me. Hope there is full of happiness in your family. Cheers, Jin

  2. It’s good that you made it to Queensland! You got there at the right time. What’s the red thing on your handlebars?

  3. I’m rooting that your desire to finish your trip by cycling through North Korea comes true! It would be a beautiful end to a beautiful trip, with a magnificent message of world peace. Love and Peace 🙂

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