The first time I set out for extended travel—alone, in Asia—I imagined meeting local folks wherever I went. But due to language and lifestyle differences my real friendships were forged with fellow travellers. Not that this was a bad thing—I hadn't met many Australians and Europeans before then. Meeting fellow travellers from different places and differing backgrounds is one of the joys of travel.
We met The Koreans on the Dakar-Bamako train. They'd already been travelling 12 hours when Evelyn and I boarded in eastern Senegal. We would travel another 24 hours on this train before reaching our destination—Bamako, the capital of Mali.
There were only a dozen or so non-Africans on the train. The Koreans stood out. Especially considering that Lee carried a large professional video camera and Joo was tall for a Korean woman. They exuded a certain confidence that said they were comfortable in these very foreign surroundings.
In the morning—about 12 hours into the trip—we stopped in the Malian city of Kayes. While I went off to have our passports stamped, Evelyn wandered up the station platform and fell into conversation with Lee. They were producing a program for Korean television, he told her. Lee was the producer/director and Joo—a top Korean model—was the on-screen personality.