Thursday, September 23, 2021

Day 6, Leg 6

Hills! Today finally brought some hills. A few got me breathing hard, but none were exhausting. It was a bright and beautiful day (still is as I write this), and like yesterday, today was fun. The walk was longer today, and a large part of it swung away from the coast, making it feel for all the world like a segment of the Four Rivers walk. But let's put out the stats:

Distance: about 23.5 km to cert center, then a very short walk to the motel I finally chose

Time: from 5:25 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., with two sidetracks totaling about 45 minutes

Steps: 38,043

Calories Burned: 4,218

Calories Consumed: 2,888 (deficit = 1,330)

As magnificent as the sea is, I've come to realize I'm very much a mountains-lakes-rivers kind of person. I try not to sneer at those who love the ocean (which, as I mentioned before, can get me all philosophical about gravity), but when I imagine where my fantasy home is located, I keep coming back to something like Interlaken, Switzerland: lakes, mountains, and rivers. Well, maybe there's a little sneering: I was noticing, today, how people at the beach seem to become kind of slack-jawed, as if something about the sunlight, the great ocean, and the stretches of sand were smoothing out the wrinkles in their brains. I don't get that "duh" vibe when I see thoughtful people contemplating mountains or waterfalls: such people seem keen and intelligent, not brain-baked or hypnotized. That's just my opinion, of course. So, yeah, I've come into this trip with a bit of an attitude problem, but today, like yesterday, did a lot to improve my impression of the trail.*

I surprised myself by leaving my motel slightly before 5:30 a.m. It was a long walk to the only cert center of the day (Jeong Dong Jin), a bit over 23 kilometers away. Somewhere around the one-third mark, the trail swung away from the shore and went inland. I found myself first among suburbs, then on a quiet-ish country road that had plenty of little hills. Finally, the country road ended, and I wound up on a tree-lined highway with lots of farmland all around. The harvest is only just beginning, I saw; some farmers have already started collecting their rice, although I think it's still a little bit too early to collect it all. 

Not long after that detour away from the shore, I curved back toward the ocean and walked through a construction site, snapping pictures as I went. A plump security guard approached me and asked what I was doing. "Taking some pictures," I said, showing him my camera. He said I couldn't do that, dredging up some bullshit reason having to do with "insurance." I mollified him by deleting my most recent photo, making a big show of saying, "Okay, deleted" while showing him the actual act of deletion. Then I proceeded on my merry way, snapping pictures again once I was out of range, and thinking about how some people just want an excuse to flex their power.

When I stopped in at two different convenience stores, both of the old proprietors saw my tee shirt and asked me about my trip. One noticed how burned my hands were. Come to think of it, I had an encounter with an old man last night that's worth talking about.

Last night, I was sitting by the lake's edge when an old man suddenly approached me. I've seen this kind of person, and those mannerisms, before, so I already knew what to expect even before the guy opened his mouth. "Do you speak Korean?" he asked in English. I nodded, which is my shorthand for the true answer, to wit, that I speak at an intermediate level and still have a lot to learn despite sixteen years in country, that I speak much better French than Korean, and that there's a bit of shame in knowing I speak French better than I do my mother's own language. Anyway, the guy went through the standard questions: What do you do? What brings you to this part of Korea? etc. (No one ever asks why I'm walking. For most Koreans, that I'm walking is simply a given.) I answered the old man's questions in Korean and talked about my previous walks and this current walk. I noticed his responses seemed to be in the tone one would use when discovering that a particularly clever monkey can actually talk, and not just talk, but give you his opinion on the relevance of Cartesian epistemology in today's world. Oh, really? Oh, wow, said the old man. And within a minute or two, it became obvious the guy was looking for an excuse to leave. I'm pretty sure he had accosted me while thinking I'd be struggling to say anything in Korean, which would allow him to play the role of the Great Explainer to the know-nothing furriner. That wasn't happening, so... time to leave. I didn't mourn his departure.

So that was last night. The encounter didn't ruin my evening or anything; not long after, I found myself staring at that fascinating moonrise. Today went by faster than I thought it would. Up to now, my walks haven't been that long by the standard of the segments I walked on the Four Rivers path, so I might be getting spoiled. I do have two segments on this path that are a little over 30K, but not for a while yet. 

Oh, yeah: I had haemul kalguksu for lunch (seafood noodle soup), and I'm staying at the Lavender Motel, a wee bit away from shore, which means the room is cheap (W40,000).

Today showed me, happily, that this trail does contain some surprises. I'd love for the rest of the trail to be like today, but it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so that's not happening. And now, I imagine, you'll be wanting to see some photos. Be prepared because, as I said in the post right before this one, I'm dumping all of today's photos on you. I also plan to go back and dump all of the Day 1 to 5 pics on you as well; I'll let you know when that's done. Don't expect me to write captions for any of those pics until I'm back in Seoul. For the pics in this post, just click on the first one (if you're at a desktop and not using a phone), and you'll automatically get a slide show.

UPDATE: Day 1 pics are all uploaded now. 


a shortcut

whale sign!

house of God... God likes neon

when I can, I try to take photographs that allow enterprising folks to figure out my exact location

Just before this sculpture was the neatest garbage-deposit area I've ever seen. I wanted to take a picture of that, but a dude was walking past right at that moment, and I was too embarrassed.

I liked the sweep of these trees.

onto a quiet country road

lots of 묘/myo, or burial mounds; I think they're called 릉/neung if they're for kings

lots of little hills along this road

can't get more exact than these coordinates



We've transitioned from the country road to a bunch of farmers' fields.

This turned out to be a... rice factory (if that's the term)?

The word 쌀 (ssal) refers to uncooked rice.

just wood burning, not garbage

Some sort of military installation ahead, so I temporarily put on my mask and stopped taking pictures until I was a few hundred meters past.

always good to see the fields about to be harvested

and in some cases, the harvest has begun

always fascinated by Bauhaus-ish architecture, not to mention the fact that the building's sign mentions Daecheong, the name of the apartment building where I live

and it's always a relief to see something other than fish being served (bulgogi in this case)

a statue at a resort

the resort's entrance

the resort's hotel side, and yes, that's a fountain... wretched excess

Why did a water truck come by and spray the road surface with water? The glare coming off the asphalt was annoying.

The guard approached me right after I took the above shot. I didn't resume shooting until I was past the construction site.

"extra-high pressure; no fishing"

two competing sashimi places

one has the bigger sign

another hill

It really sounded as if this goat had called out to me. Baaa! I didn't notice the tether until I looked more closely at the picture later on.

still marveling that I have a neck

Jesus loves this wire spire

and another hill

a polluter with a sense of humor

fence: reminder of the grim reality

warship exhibit coming up

and a sub

pretty impressive up close, and many ships are much bigger

every abandoned glove has a story

"slow; speeding forbidden"

temple entrance

from across the parking lot


the front stupa (possibly a 사리탑/saritap, i.e. a little pagoda containing the sari, or bony cremains, of a revered monk)

Could this be 포대스님/Podae-sunim, i.e., Budai, whom my buddy Mike calls Happy Charlie? He's not the Buddha himself (the Buddha was an intense ascetic for a period, so he was never fat), but Budai represents things like luck, happiness, and prosperity. He might also be an incarnation of 미륵/Mireuk/Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future.

The temple's 일주문/iljumun, or "one-column gate," which obviously stands on more than one column. Why the misnomer? Beats me.

at a guess, a little-b buddha with bodhisattvas

love the wooden and stone dragons

here, too

some sort of eternal flame for Korea?

This could be 관음보살/Gwaneum-bosal, known in the West by the Chinese designation Kwan Yin. Originally, Kwan Yin was a goddess of compassion in the Chinese pantheon, but she was appropriated by the Buddhists, overlaying the Indian bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (-ishvara being a male particle meaning "lord"), a bodhisattva of compassion. Gwaneum is sometimes depicted as above, or sometimes with multiple arms to represent the compassionate help she's supposed to bring to the world. Of course, I could be wrong about who this is.

dem rox

dere's tree o' dem

here da turd

statues from behind

a little turtle ass

In Korea, people often create their own 탑/tap, which are like miniature pagodas that resemble the cairns that hikers make in the West.

There's a story of Buddhist cosmology here.

can't forget the little flowers

off the temple grounds, but more cairns

This abstract tiger head sits at the entrance of an art museum. I think it's absolute shit and should be replaced with a better-crafted, less-abstract tiger head. Not a very promising first impression for those hoping to see fine art.

Haslla, change your tiger head!

The road rose to meet me a lot this day.


The temple was the first thing to sidetrack me. This Korean War memorial was the second. Steps up to the memorial.

intro in awkward English

Something to remember: freedom is never free, and if you don't nourish and nurture it, you'll piss it away.

names, names, names

the building sitting above the memorial

a short road back down

my lovely, sunburned hand

another one for the GPS crowd

The cert center is close.

train station

buy your train tickets here

This whole place is tourist-trappy.

beach's name

time and tide (view the image in closeup)

the day's goal

the first of several "rail cars"

burned, scabbed, peeling

where I ate lunch

haemul-kalguksu, before adding the spicy sauce

You can't fuck a mermaid, no matter how hot, if you can't find her vagina. But did you see "The Lighthouse" with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson? That movie sure solved the problem of vaginaless mermaids. (Read my movie review.)

This was a violation of privacy, but too cute to pass up. A very human moment, now enshrined on my blog.

*Also, what I'm saying about fuzzyheaded beachgoers doesn't apply to people who make a living from the sea. I have nothing but respect for those folks, who daily risk their lives contending with nature in all her ancient fury. Fishermen, dock workers, the rest: my hat is off to them.


Anonymous said...

캐빈 선생님. 문자 잘 받았습니다. 냉장고 안의 소시지는 주말에 가져와서 잘 먹겠습니다. 사진들이 다 훌륭하네요. 경치가 일품입니다. 언제까지 바닷가를 거니실 계획이신지요?

Kevin Kim said...

10월13일까지 도보여행하려고해요. 14일날에 서울에 돌아오고 18일날에 사무실에 있겠어요.

John Mac said...

"thinking about how some people just want an excuse to flex their power"

Yeah, like the whole COVID thing.

Great photos as usual (but I do miss the captions). Really beautiful terrain. The warship and submarine was a little surprising to see, and those statues at the war memorial were something else--those facial expressions--wow!

Looks like you are getting lots of variety to enjoy along the way. I'll look forward to tomorrow's installment.