Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Namsan's changes

I continue to do my Namsan hikes, and even do them with partners now! My buddy Jang-woong's wife, Bo-hyun, expressed an interest in keeping in shape, so we hike on Tuesdays and Thursdays (actually, she's already in great shape, but you know how women can be about their own bodies). I've done two hikes with my buddy Matt, and I'm thinking about instituting some sort of "Namsan English" free class for Smoo students once the semester starts up (will have to think hard about this; most students won't want to hike in the evenings because of their homework [cough] and social lives, but hiking during humid, miserable summer afternoons will be a killer).

My Tuesday/Thursday hikes are up the old, "easy" route that takes me past the National Theater and along the bus road. They finally blocked the route off after weeks of delay; only taxis, yellow buses, and motorbikes go up the path now. The road is, as a result, much quieter, so if you've been looking for an opportunity to hike Namsan in relative peace, I'd recommend my "easy" route. Grab the opportunity before they open the road back up to the general public: if you insist on taking the stairs route up, you're likely to encounter a lot more people*.

I've been doing the stairs for a while (except for a shameful break in routine right around the end of the semester), so going back to the "easy" route with Bo-hyun led to some surprises. Everything's a lot greener and lusher now; wide vistas have closed off, including my favorite view of Seoul just off a hairpin turn. Lots of seeds on the ground, so the walk is occasionally crunchy (or, after yesterday's rain, mushy).

So I'm seeing Namsan in all its seasons. I started this routine in early spring, back when the weather varied from cold to cool. Now the mountain's in bloom, and will remain so for the next few months. It's a bit like watching a friend's or relative's progress in learning some skill, but the plants, unlike people, know what to do without needing any teacher.

*I avoid this problem by walking after 8PM; not nearly as many tourists braving the stairs at that time.


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