Monday, September 24, 2018

Incheon Walk 3, Day 3: day's end

Time flies, and I'm already done with Day 3 of my four-day trek. Kind of a shame to have to return to the dreary office in two days, but we don't always get to choose what we do.

The picture below is one I had been wanting to take for a while: it's apparently full-on mettugi (grasshopper) season here. These little guys were lined up along much of the path I walked, and every time I passed by them, they would leap in random directions. Some would even deploy their funny little wings to add length to their already-impressive jumps. (If you've ever seen a grasshopper's leap in super-slow motion, you know how hilarious it looks as the crazed insect tumbles awkwardly and desperately through the air. In real time, those jumps look planned and graceful, but in slow motion, they're pure chaos.)

The grasshopper below is quite dead, hence my close shot of it:

The spider below, by contrast, is very much alive. I wish I had put my hand in the pic for scale; this one was huge, not to mention even more lemon-lime colored than most of the Korean orb-weavers I've seen. There was a dude sitting just off the path, having a picnic for one as I came walking by. I hope I didn't disturb him too much when I stopped where he was, stared at the impressive web and the web's impressive owner, then took the following picture:

Once again, I was surprised that my cell-phone camera was able to more or less focus on the spider itself. I thought the web was pretty nicely done as well.

Below, we have another shot of the foot of my trekking pole, but this time, it's because I thought I noticed something: if you look straight at the very center of the foot, there appears to be a tiny hole forming. I'm beginning to think that I've worn the foot down to the point where a screw or something is eventually going to poke through.

Ha ha—the gloves are back, baby! My hands get the sun's full force while my arms are protected by mighty toshi (SPF-rated sleevelets for bikers). This is after only three days' exposure. Remember what my hands looked like last year?

I laughed when I saw the following shwim-teo ("shweem-taw," roughly). Look carefully, and you'll see that some goof left a fucking folding chair on the shwim-teo's floor. The problem, of course, is that a shwim-teo is already made for sitting, so putting a chair on it is mighty redundant—like demanding that someone put a chair on your chair before you can sit down—not to mention downright bizarre for a Korean, especially an older-generation Korean who was raised on a diet of floor-sitting. This shwim-teo is otherwise unremarkable, but the chair is a hilarious punchline to a joke that I must have missed hearing.

What are some notable things that I observed, or that happened along the way to Incheon and then to my current hotel? I got a few bikers who shouted "Fighting!" at me—the Konglish hortatory term of encouragement. Some bikers offered a lame "Hi" in English as they passed. Most bikers simply ignored me or stared rudely at me as they flew by. As a gaggle of 50-something ajummas approached me, one broke ranks, walking quickly up to me and shoving a plastic bottle into my hand with the awkward utterance "Watamul!" (the English word "water" followed by "mul," the Korean equivalent).

I noticed that the preponderance of funky bikes disappeared as I distanced myself from downtown Seoul. While crossing through the downtown part of the Han River bike path, I saw plenty of recumbent bikes (it's fascinating to see how many different styles of recumbent bikes are out there), including a small peloton of three badass recumbent bikers who were cranking their bikes forward by using their arms. That looked like the sort of punishment Satan himself might devise for an eternity of torment, but those three guys seemed to be intensely into what they were doing. Good for them, I guess. As I made my way west, the bikes all became boringly normal. While nearing Incheon on Day 2, though, I did see one dude on an honest-to-God unicycle. That made up for the lack of recumbent bikes. Oh, yes: there were tandem bikes out, too; most of the couples were man-woman, but there were a few man-man pairings as well. Some of the saddest-looking people on the bike trail were the ones with the rented bikes that the city provides. These bikes all have heavy, white, wide-tubed frames with baskets hanging off the front. If you're a guy, it's hard to look manly when your bike looks as if it should be used for delivering flowers. The rental bikes' frames also tend to lack crotch bars, so they all look like girls' touring bikes. Hence the sad expressions on the guys using the rentals.

The weather this morning was fine: no rain, and no evaporating traces of nighttime rain. Everything was perfectly dry, and while the sun was hot, it was always much cooler in the shade. Fall is on its way, thank Cthulhu.

In other news: I realized that I had miscalculated the distance from my Day 2 hotel to the Ara Canal bike path: the distance is closer to 3.5 km. I also realized that, during the first two days of walking, the daily distances were closer to 33 km than to 30 km, which means I no longer feel guilty about cheating with a cab on Day 2. Even with the cab cheat, I'm legitimately walking about 120 km.

I'm impatient to do an equipment review; I've got a lot to say about my new shoes, my backpack, and the jury-rigging that I did for my backpack's hip-belt assembly. Oh, yes—there's a bit of belt-related good news: over the course of two-and-a-half days' walking, I lost an inch off my waist. I know this because I was able to go from cinching my hip belt down to the third hole to cinching it down to the fourth hole. Woo-hoo! Of course, I look no different, but hey—an inch is an inch. Ask anyone with a penis.

I'm happy to be finishing this entry much earlier than I did yesterday's. And now I'm going to hand-wash some of my clothing, continue recharging my cell phone, take a shower, remove my contact lenses, and flop into bed nice and early—but not before I set my phone's alarm to wake me at 5 a.m. on the nose tomorrow morning. No more late awakenings!

1 comment:

John Mac said...

That looks like a face on your walking stick base. A face that maybe got stuck in a pile of dog shit...