The Sontaran, the snowman, and the long trek

Another hike, but the twist this time was that the weather. Though cooperative, it was very cold. Freezing in fact. I have to admit that I almost gave up, as my stomach, which was getting a strong, updraught of cold wind. One, right up the bracket you might say. I had on my scarf and down jacket. Ben, had simply zipped up his jacket up to his neck. He honestly looked like a Sontaran, a character from the Doctor Who series. He even gave a brief rendition of their battle chant. We both laughed at the chant, and the reference. Doctor Who is something we both knew. The target destination, as usual, was Yongsan station, and the electronics market.

Starting from Gu-il station, we started trekking up one of the Han rivers smaller tributaries was a wasteland of dirt and occasional parks. At one point we passed policemen doing their P/t. They might even have been trainees, but we we’re sure. The head instructor stood next to a PA, with maybe the intent of doing some karaoke numbers later to tired trainees. Before that, we walked past a driving course, the sort found at driving schools in Korea, except 75% the size. It might have been for training, but only for very small cars.

Ben and I had done this route once in the past, and before all the landscape was different, and now it was finished.

We reached the junction where the stream met the Han river. We sat, and rested, trying to work out the kinks and cramping we both had. I had particular problems with my right shoulder. It would be with great relief that I put down my bag on the hotel bed later that afternoon.

In the homestretch to Yongsan station was the electronics market. I commented positively that the actual market was a mere 300 metres distant. A grunt was Ben’s reply, as his feet were sore, and in retrospect, so were mine, I just hadn’t realised it. My new hiking shoes, bought in New Zealand off of a pal of mine who ran the shop, ironically were Asics. A Korean brand. Still they fit, and did the job. A new pair of shoes, broken in and christened.

After making a small purchase at Seong-in plaza, we continued onto Yongsan station and it’s relative comforts of low teenage Celsius temperatures.

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Random walk, ends in a laugh riot

Ben and I had come up with a way to make our regular hikes in Seoul a little more exciting. Each station has a number allocated to them, so what we did was used those numbers to decide where to go. For the generation of our numbers we used a 12 sided dice. The results so far, have been based around the Han river. Something that we’d specifically been trying to get away from.

Jamwon wasn’t exactly close to the Han (nothing really is) but we did end up walking along it and along untrodden ground, and filling in the grey areas that of ground seen, but not covered per se.

I guess the more times I do this sort of thing, the more blasé I get about the whole process of taking photographs. I mean, nothing pegs out my weird-freak-o-meter any more. Walking through Jamwon we discovered it well established, with all the ammenities at hand.

I would have to say that crossing the two-tiered bridge (반포대교) was the most interesting part of the journey. It was colourfull, curved and unusual.

After crossing that bridge, we saw some cops trying to catch traffic violators on camera. So I caught them on my camera. I didn’t think they minded.

Onwards to Yongsan, and by my veto, we walked through some of the more delapidated areas. Ben told me that there had been some riots over surrendering real estate to developers. To which the government, sided with the developers resulting in a rather notable ruckus.

After reaching Yongsan we settled in for some beer sipping and snack munching, all the while fending off bums. This particular one had a shaved head, and perhaps was a monk. I say this because in all the time he worked the area where we sat he didn’t utter a word. To Ben and I, this situation wasn’t new, so we decided to play a game of statues. Ben cast his eyes down, while I naïvely gazed ahead. I had this silly smirk on my face, and the bum though not talking, used gestures amounting to motioning an outstretch palm about the place. The giggles became laughter, and soon the belly laughter was unstoppable. We were lucky that bum/ monk had since gone while Ben and I continued our lapse into insanity for about 5 minutes. Looking at us, Koreans must have perceived foreigners as a little bit stranger that day.

The A-Z of Sinchon to Hannam

the Loch ness monster

Hiking along the Han river is one of my preferred activities when the weather is good. The spirit was definitely willing even if the flesh was severely assaulted by furnace like temperatures. What began as an enjoyable stroll along the Han river (in Seoul) later became a test of will not to pike out and take the bus back to the relative comfort of Yongsan station before our destination. We did make it to Hannam dong in the end, but were absolutely spent. We patiently waited for the big green bus to trundle down the road to pick us up. The air conditioning was absolute bliss.

We did the normal things while walking; taking photographs to remember all that we’d passed, commented on how brave the water skiers were to do it on the Han river (the water was a light-ish brown that day), and stopped half-way to drink some cool water and eat snickers bars. A minor over-sight on the temperature side: snickers bar had under-gone melt down of Chernobyl proportions after being stuffed into the side pocket, but in direct sunlight. Consumption involved sucking the melted contents of the packet. At no time was chewing needed.

One thing that we did discover was that there are live trout in the Han. We saw them jumping a water barrier to get upstream. It was akin to seeing the Loch ness monster as no-one would believe you there were trout unless you had a photo of it leaping from the water out of desperation to get clear of the muck.

And like the Loch ness monster I only had fleeting photographs of them, patience not being the tone of the day.