Fuck, I'm tired.
On Sunday, November 30, the final day of the month, I walked 37,825 steps, weighed in post-walk at 117 kilograms, covered about 20 miles (32.3 km), and expended about 2655 calories. It wasn't the 40K steps I had hoped to cover, but it wasn't a bad evening's work, either. As it turned out, 37.8K steps were enough to have me finish out November at a daily average of 14,115 steps, which beats my October average of 14,058 steps per day. That's a difference of only a few dozen steps, but I'm still on an upward track, and 15K still remains my goal. I don't have to hang my head in shame because of any backsliding.
My walk took me up Namsan only once: I did a single-summiting, then walked down to Euljiro, passing the Lotte Hotel (with its obnoxious Christmas lights) and turning right to head toward Gwanghwamun and the imposing statues of Admiral Yi Sun-shin and King Sejong. Once I reached the palace wall, I suddenly conceived a desire to stroll up into Samcheong-dong, a district I've ridden through in taxis, and which I've wanted to see up close for a while now. Samcheong-dong is charmingly laid out: it's an assemblage of shops, galleries, and restaurants, and to my mind it's very reminiscent of King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia—another spot with plenty of shops, galleries, and restaurants. There's something a bit surreal about Samcheong-dong; I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the dollhouse-like nature of the architecture, which is itself a jumble of different styles ranging from modernist hanok to faux-European. Everything along the main drag, tonight, looked pretty but a bit overpriced; still, I could imagine that the area would be pleasant for strolling and for desultory window-shopping (at least for those in my financial state).
I wandered a bit off the main drag and passed by some of the cafes and restaurants that were, surprisingly, still open and active fairly late in the evening. A few of the art galleries at the beginning of Samcheong-dong caught my eye as well; I'll want to revisit those at some point.
After that, I followed the fortress wall back to Gwanghwamun and took a picture of a haetae, a mythical guardian beast often called a fu dog in the Chinese context. From there, I began to wend my way back the way I came, aiming to reach my yeogwan sometime before midnight. Because I was trying to get the maximum number of steps in before time ran out, I overshot the path to my place and kept walking until I had reached the Dongdaemun Design Plaza—the UFO-shaped building that hosts conventions and exhibitions. At night, the whole thing was cordoned off, although this didn't stop some couples from slipping past the barriers and trespassing on the plaza's property. Hey, this is Korea! Laws? What laws? I walked the perimeter of the plaza, impressed by the ambiance and wishing I could have stepped inside for a peek at the building's interior.
My right knee was aching for most of the walk, and by the time I did finally get back to my place, I was ready to collapse. But I felt I had to crank out this blog entry, so here we are. December promises to be a strange month: everything comes to a head as the semester draws to a close, so I'm not sure how much time I'll actually have for walking. We'll see. If I can get my monthly average a little bit closer to 15K steps per day, that'll be great.