Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Day 12, Leg 10

I did end up checking my 2017 blog to see whether my final approach to Chungju had been all that different, and it turned out to have been completely different from the route I just took the other day. How the hell did that happen? At a guess, the route changed because of construction, and if that happened once, it can happen again. Reality is always moving out from under you. As I'm learning this time around, things don't reliably happen the same way twice.

I need to check my 2017 archives again because today's route featured a killer hill that I'd somehow missed when reviewing the terrain last night. I saw that my path crossed a couple contour lines, but not that it rose several hundred feet over the course of about two kilometers! While I'm scandalized (mainly at myself), I'm also a bit relieved because I now think that Day 2 may have contained the other major hill on the Saejae path. If so, then I'll march through tomorrow's Day 3 hell up to the Ihwaryeong gate secure in the knowledge that that's it for big hills in the Saejae section of this walk. Thank you, Jeebus.

Aside from the nasty hill (which proved to be walkable with no problems), today's walk was smooth sailing; and the weather was once again beautiful. Being under 14 kilometers, today's walk was also very short: I reached my destination, Saejae Park Inn, by 2 p.m. despite having left Suanbo Sangnok Hotel at the embarrassingly late hour of 10:30 a.m. But I can't be too embarrassed: I knew I could afford to leave late today.

The place I'm at, Yeonpoong-myeon (연풍면... Lotus Wind Village?), really is a one-horse town: quiet, overlooked, and empty. My yeogwan was, like in 2017, devoid of all life forms when I lumbered up to it. I tried calling the ajeossi like last time, but a computer voice informed me that the ajeossi's phone had been turned off. I sent a series of text messages, and as I was walking out to get lunch and do some shopping, the ajumma owner of the yeogwan appeared. I paid her W30,000 on the spot; she gave me a room key, and that was that. It's a simple room, but it now has Wi-Fi, an improvement since 2017. Despite being cheap and old, this room is a damn sight better than the expensive one I was just in at Suanbo.

I went shopping at the local grocery, and I finally found a replacement for the bamboo back-scratcher I had lost, like an idiot, on Day 1. I was ecstatic:

So now, I have nothing to do but write this blog entry and settle in for the evening. I'm not bothering with laundry; I can do that at the next pension. I'm not even bothering with a shower: despite the big hill today, I didn't end up all that sweaty and stinky.

Walk stats:

After getting my room and doing some shopping, I limped over to a next-door restaurant and ordered something called sogogi boshintang at the recommendation of the owner. Old Korea hands will know that the word boshintang normally applies to dog-meat stew, but they'll also know that the Chinese characters in the stew's name don't mention "dog" at all: bo means "protect," and shin means "body," so the name refers to a stew (tang) that protects or fortifies the body. The owner, possibly reading my mind, specifically mentioned the fact that his stew was made with beef. So I ordered it, and it was quite good.

I hit the resto at almost 3 o'clock in the afternoon, so the place was empty:

Here's the stew and sides:

Let's travel back in time and review how today went.

Leaving at the crack of 10:30:

It's definitely harvest season:

A special coffee house:

And here's a lesson in why you can't trust distance-marking signs. First is this:

The above sign says Ihwaryeong is 16 km away.

Bear with me, now. I proceed to trudge 2 km uphill, up a long slope that I had somehow forgotten all about...

And after 2 km of puffing uphill, I see a sign that now tells me Ihwaryeong is this far away:

This country is not to be trusted.

Luckily for me, the downhill was the reward for the uphill. While descending, I saw my first one-column shwimteo:

Flowers. Are these cosmos(es)? My mother used to love these, and they've been all over the place during my walk:

During a rest stop late in today's hike, I randomly grabbed a cheap pastry called a "Full Moon." I smelled it... and it smelled exactly like a Twinkie. Had the same spongy consistency, too. (Cue nostalgia violins.) The cream filling was strawberry, but I didn't mind. Now, I'm going to have to hunt down these Full Moons once I'm done with my walk. They're made by a company called Samlip. Thank you, Samlip!

Pretentiously meditative selfie:

The shwimteo where I enjoyed my Full Moon:

A rill:

The aliens got lazy and didn't bother with crop circles in the rice:

Apple trees and chili peppers have dominated much of my walk. So strange to see them often side by side:

Wide shot:

Arriving at Yeonpoong-myeon. Nifty mural:

A quiet street close to my yeogwan:

Saejae Park Inn:

A blurry, full-body shot of yours truly in the inn's second-floor lobby, realizing no one's home:

More chilies drying in the sun:

A shot of one of several stores in this quiet little hamlet. This store, at least, was open:

The adventure continues. Tomorrow promises to be as hard as today was easy, but if I'm right, tomorrow's hill will also be the last major obstacle on the Saejae part of the trek. Fingers and tentacles crossed. And since I didn't sleep very well last night, I'm off to bed soon. Night.

ADDENDUM: lest we forget, today (October 9) is Hangeul Day here in South Korea, a day to remember King Sejong and his council, who developed the Korean alphabet back in the 1440s as a way to democratize kbowledge. These days, passages from the king's Hunmin Jeongeum (Proper Sounds for the Edification of the People is how I've seen this translated) are used as decorative motifs, like on the walls of my current yeogwan:

Photo essay:

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had an almost leisurely day. The countryside is so beautiful. Although living in a small town like that would me lose my mind!

    Good luck tomorrow!