Saturday, December 12, 2020

a walk and lunch with JW

JW told me he was in a bit of a rush:  he was taking his family down to Jeju Island—today—for a crazy little winter vacation.  According to him, airline ticket prices have cratered, as have hotel prices on the island, which is normally an expensive tourist trap.  JW plans to take his family there, hike a few trails alone, and report back to me on whether it'd be a good idea for him and me to go there to do some hiking.  (A few years ago, Jeju Island was marketing the fact that it had created a segmented loop trail, called olle-gil, totaling 425 kilometers.  Jeju Island is small enough to walk the circumference in a short amount of time; the total network of trails is subdivided into segments, no single segment of which is longer than 20 km.)

So JW needed to be back at his place by 1 p.m.  He and I met at 9 a.m. to go do a walk, after which we planned to eat lunch at a riverside Chinese restaurant called Dong Bang Myeong Ju ("Bright Eastern Pearl"? "Eastern Silk"?).  I had originally wanted to meet at 11 a.m., walk up to Jamshil Bridge, and hit the restaurant during the return leg of our short hike.  JW, ever the negotiator, counter-proposed a 9 a.m. meeting and an early lunch so he could be back home by 1 p.m.  I counter-counterproposed walking a longer route if we were going to start that early, so I suggested that we walk up to Jamshil Bridge, cross the river by crossing the bridge, walk east to the next bridge, cross back to the south side of the Han, then make our way to the restaurant such that we'd arrive around 11 a.m. for an early lunch.  JW was amenable, so we met at the confluence of the Tan Creek and the Han River, right next to a drive-in theater.

JW ended up disliking both the route we walked (too noisy on the north bank thanks to traffic) and the Chinese restaurant, which he found too authentically Chinese.  JW suspects that the restaurant's owner had some fantasy in her head about bringing an authentically Chinese experience to Korea, but that she did this without really looking into the local Korean market first to understand people's preferences.  JW darkly predicts that Dong Bang Myeong Ju will be gone in a year.  He might be right:  I liked the food and the ambiance better than JW did, but I agreed that some of the dishes we ate seemed a little... off.

I had been excited about the prospect of exploring the bike path along the Han's northern side, but after seeing JW's displeasure today, I'm no longer quite so keen.  I might explore the north bank on my own, without JW, but I don't see him and me hiking the north bank together again anytime soon.

So at this point, it's almost 4 p.m., and JW's flight to Jeju left around 3.  It's a very short flight from Seoul to Jeju—no more than an hour or so, so I imagine JW's family is taking a cab to their hotel and maybe settling in.  I hope they have a good time enjoying the relatively empty island—a cheap flight, a cheap hotel, and cheap meals.  Must be fun.

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