Thursday, April 21, 2005

Namsan follies

I went back to Namsan this evening and was relieved to discover that the mountain hadn't suddenly become difficult to hike, despite my four off-days. There were Korean soldiers all over the place; I wondered what that was about. When I hit the top to get my ritual PowerAde from one of the shop dudes, I asked him why there were soldiers here, and he said they were just drilling. I don't know whether he knew this for sure, but that's what he said. I asked him how often they came, and he claimed they came to Namsan about two or three times a year. Can any milbloggers confirm this?

Strange "drill," if that's what it was. The soldiers were stationed at various intersections, acting as if they were manning checkpoints, but they weren't checking anybody or anything. They should've been pulling people out of their cars, demanding IDs from all foreigners, and shooting random tourists to show how serious they were. No such luck, though.

Namsan is also sporting signs saying that the Namsan loop (namsan-sun-hwan) running from the National Theater to the National Library is going to be off limits to vehicles starting on May 1st. I suppose they're talking about the road that runs past the National Theater; the walking trail a bit farther up the mountain, which also runs roughly from the theater to the library, is already closed to motor traffic.

The route I took tonight was the normal one. I won't be doing the Stairs of Doom except perhaps on weekends. The main reason is the amount of time it takes to do the walk: a half-hour extra. I'm not sure I'll have that kind of time once I start teaching next week.

Get this: it's more expensive for me to work out this way than to join a health club.

I buy a special subway ticket called a jeon-gi-gweon that costs about W36,000 (around $36, US). It gives you 60 intra-city trips (i.e., don't try going to Bundang or Inch'eon with it). That's about W600 per trip. Not bad, considering the normal ticket price is a minimum of W900.

One round trip on the subway is therefore W1200. I also buy PowerAde once I hit the top, which means I'm paying another W1600. That's W2800 for each workout. Assuming I do the workout 6 days a week (which was, until the recent skippage, my average), that's about 25 days a month, depending on the length of the month.

W2800 x 25 days = W70,000 per month

A health club membership here runs about W40,000 to W50,000 a month on average (unless you sign up for one of those ridiculous supergyms, which some people do in order to catch glimpses of celebrities). I'm spending too much.

But wait a minute... it's true that I was also buying PowerAde after gym workouts in 2003. If we factor in 25 days' worth of PowerAde (that's a lot of artificial shit I'm pumping into my system), we need to add W1600 x 25 days = W40,000. That means a gym workout plus PowerAde is running me about W80,000-90,000 a month.

So maybe the Namsan routine is cheaper. But not by much.

Smoo has a nearby park where people can walk or jog. I have yet to check it out, but it might become an alternative venue. More on this (and more photos) as I explore the campus and its surroundings.


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