I'm in a pension called San Gwa Gang Pension. It's very nicely appointed, in contrast with the rather squalid Jangsu Pension. It seems to me that there's a lot of overlap between Korean notions of pensions and guest houses: both will have kitchens or kitchenettes; both will eschew beds in favor of blankets that you pile up on the floor (surprisingly, no traditional yo/요 as of yet) with plenty of pillows. Both seem to be apartment-like spaces inside a larger, house-like structure, unconnected by interior hallways and accessible only from outside. I've been to only one Korean guest house, so it's hard to say, but I'm guessing that guest houses are more likely to have laundry facilities and decent computer tech: my current pension doesn't even have WiFi, which is a pain in the ass.
Today's stats, according to that unreliable narrator, my pedometer (well, I do trust the step counts): 439 minutes of walking; 42,296 steps; 20.47 miles walked; 3339 calories burned (at a guess, about 2700 net calories). Naver said today's walk was 16.63 miles (26.77 km), and I think that may be closer to the truth: I was achy at the end of the day, but not wiped out the way I'm going to be tomorrow.
As I noted earlier, the Saejae trail has been less problematic than I'd thought it would be. The two mountains had slopes that were gentle and steady, not radically tilted, but I'm glad I did the second mountain early in the morning as opposed to later in the day. I'll need to rewatch some of those bikers' YouTube videos when I get back to see what the hills looked like from their perspective. I hate dealing with hills on a bike and much prefer just walking the ascent.
Quite a few bikers passed me today, despite it being a weekday. Only one of them walked up the hill. I felt sorry, after passing the Ihwaryeong certification center, for the poor bastards going uphill in the other direction. But as I discovered for myself, they would soon know the pleasure of coasting downhill for several kilometers, aided by good old gravity.
Most of today's walk, even the part with the mountain, felt easy and pleasant, and for at least two-thirds of my time, I tackled the route vigorously. During the final third of the walk, I began to lose steam, as seems to be the case with every leg, no matter how long it is.
My beard continues to grow, but it's a modest half-Korean beard, so it's not going to make me look like Grizzly Adams anytime soon. At least there aren't any zits yet (knock on wood). I once tried growing my beard out for three weeks, but the result was a scraggly, zitty mess. That was years ago. All that's changed is that there's a lot more gray now.
The blister on my right foot gets a bit inflated at the end of every walking day, but it flattens out once it's given a night's rest. Every walk over the past few days has begun pain-free, and when the pain comes, it's usually in the form of aches, not anything debilitating.
Some bikers who reach the certification centers before me like to take their sweet damn time before letting others in the booth. They clown around and pose in front of the TARDIS, laughing and joking and ignoring others. It's not a huge problem, but it is a bit rude.
I somehow ended up with sunburned cheekbones today. No matter. The lotion I have is ineffective, so I'm simply going to visit the skin clinic opposite my office when I get back to civilization.
There was one hair-raising stretch, today, thanks to Naver Map, which guided me onto a freeway for a quarter-mile shortcut that ultimately got me more quickly from one part of the bike path to another. While I appreciated the savings in time and distance, I would have preferred to take a less dangerous path. Now I'm paranoid about where Naver might lead me next.
Two meetings of significance happened today. The first one happened sometime after I had come down from the mountain: I saw a Korean gentleman dressed almost exactly like me, with an equally huge pack, walking in the opposite direction. He had two trekking pokes out whereas I had deployed only one. We stopped and talked about where we were going; he was only hiking the length of the Saejae trail. He looked a lot healthier than me, so I'd assume he doesn't really need half the items in his pack. I wished him luck and told him he would probably have an easier time of the two mountains I had just crossed over.
The other group of people that I met were bikers at the second and final certification center today; as I noted above, they were clowning around at the red booth. When I approached, one of the guys suddenly asked me if he and I could be in a picture together. I said yes, and that led to a conversation about where his group started and what they were doing. His group was also doing the entire route (국토종주), but they had started in Incheon, west of Seoul. Pretty badass. I forgot to ask them what their schedule was. The loudest of the guys in the group gave me a fistful of dried persimmons, some miniature energy bars, and an apple. I ended up eating everything, along with some ramyeon that I'd bought from the local mart.
The pension turned out to be right across the street from the certification center. There was no one in the pension's office when I knocked, so I called the guy and was told to just go up to my already-prepped room, labeled "the Mango Room" (no room numbers at this pension). I thought back to a conversation with Ligament in which she'd said that "eat a mango" was Japanese slang for "eat pussy."
I've decided to exercise my constitutional right not to shower. I'm just too tired, and I've got a long walk ahead of me tomorrow: almost 20 miles. All I've washed is my pair of Spandex shorts, whose fabric keeps my inner thighs from rubbing each other raw. I'll wash everything when I'm at the guest house tomorrow. I'll be there for two nights.
All for now. Sorry about not being able to post other pics. I wonder whether I've hit some sort of limit related to data storage. Or maybe I'm just in a poor-signal area, which is why attempts at publishing keep failing. I'll try again soon.