Thursday, August 03, 2006

Namsan: record time

Unbelievable: 56 minutes to the top of the mountain. I've beaten the current record by a fookin' minute. As before, I can't take full credit for this achievement: I wasn't stopped by any traffic lights on the way up. Those delays add up, and there were none tonight.

It's August in Seoul-- my least favorite time of year. The rains are gone, and hiking isn't exactly a joy these days. The night is hot, and the humidity is a solid wall: city as rain forest. On nights like this I imagine I'm a half-centimeter tall gnome with a machete, hacking my way through the noisome thickets of Hillary Clinton's pubic hair.

There were a lot of people out tonight, which I found annoying. I had been used to encountering maybe one or two people at most on the mountain; tonight it was couples, couples, couples. That's one of the problems with living in a big city: you come to realize very quickly how unoriginal you are, because fucking everybody is doing what you're doing. It therefore gave my inner misanthrope perverse pleasure when the final leg of my walk occurred in near-total darkness: the lights along the upper half of the Library Stairs were out. The only illumination to be had was the light pollution from downtown Seoul, and that proved to be enough for me to make the climb to the top. In the meantime, the female halves of those couples were quailing, and none of the guys were brawny enough to throw the women over their shoulder and run them the rest of the way up the last few hundred steps to the top. They all fell behind-- as did the other lone guy who was working his way up the mountain for his past-midnight workout. I beat them all, dammit.

The trip back down the mountain provided one comic moment: as I was descending the Huam-dong stairs (the 90-step stairway written about earlier), I heard a tiny dog bark. Every time it yapped, the sound echoed off nearby buildings, creating a wacky, sci-fi reverb effect. Instead of a single "rah!", I heard "ra-RAH!" with each bark. I wonder whether the dog knew about the amplification and felt temporarily empowered. If I were that dog, I'd bark all night, hypnotizing the city through my oratory, a canine Hitler before the thundering masses. "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein HUND!" I'd howl. Everyone would be on their hind legs, baying approval, tails wagging madly.

Aside from that, the walk was punctuated by pairs of weaving drunk people in Huam-dong. I don't usually think of that slice of neighborhood as a bar district, but it does have a few watering holes, and they do stay open fairly late.

I marched home, peeled off my stank-ass vestments, and showered. Ablutions completed, I sat down to blog this post... and that catches you up with where I am now. It's 2:45am, and it's time for me to hit the sack... after which I shall go to bed.


No comments: