중앙데일리

The long car journey from Seoul back to England

July 30,2008
Rob Sutcliffe (left), Chris Barrett, and their Hyundai Galloper, “Park Min-G.” By Richard Scott-Ashe
It’s smotheringly hot, the streets of Seoul have cleared and there are a few empty seats on the subway in the mornings. All these can only add up to one thing ? it’s holiday time in Korea.

And that means that traffic conditions to rival Chuseok await determined travelers on the way to their favorite overcrowded vacation destination.

For those daunted by the painfully epic voyage that stands between here and holiday fun, meet two British English teachers about to embark on a trek home that puts even a New Year’s drive to Busan to shame.

Brits Chris Barrett, 24, and Rob Sutcliffe, 27, are driving from Korea back to England for charity. Their so-called Seoul2B trip will be made in a recently insured Hyundai Galloper they’ve named “Park Min-G.”

“The ‘B’ [in Seoul2B] was meant to be Britain, but it could change. It could be Bulgaria if we don’t make it,” said Barrett.

“It could be Burger King,” said Sutcliffe.

The name of the car is a deft combo that tells what they’ll be doing when they stop, drops in a little joke on the sex of the vehicle, and “sounds a bit gangster.”

But there is a serious underpinning to the trip. Each selected a charity: Barrett picked Macmillan Cancer Support because his grandmother recently passed away from the disease, and Sutcliffe chose Unicef, having been inspired by his work with children as a teacher.

But they’re not about to get too solemn. The third charity, Dyslexia Action, was chosen because “We’re two dyslexic English teachers and we thought it was appropriate.”

The trip will start at the beginning of September with a ferry trip from Sokcho to Vladivostok. Having checked out the boat, Sutcliffe said, “It looks like a jjimjilbang that’s about to sink.”

From there, the route goes through Russia, dips into Mongolia, weaves through the “Stans” (avoiding Afghanistan), and heads down into Iran. Then it’s across Turkey, over to Greece, and up through Eastern Europe. They were inspired by the Mongol Rally, a car race from Europe to Mongolia that is currently charging across central Asia in this direction. “But seeing as we’re here, we may as well go this way,” said Sutcliffe.

With all that could possibly go wrong on such a trip, the two seem unconcerned. “The most dangerous city we’re going to is probably London,” said Sutcliffe, casually adding that highway robbery at knifepoint is a risk in Eastern Europe.

Of course, they know about mechanics, of their car, right? “We’re going to buy a manual,” said Barrett, grinning.

Sutcliffe, an aspiring graphic designer, has created a Web site where you can donate and get updates about the trip at www.seoul2b.com.


By Richard Scott-Ashe Deputy Editor [richard@joongang.co.kr]



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