I haven’t been up to much this week so I’ll just give you a bit of a rundown of the last little bit of my Chuseok break, following up from last week.
I did make it out to Incheon on Friday and I had a really nice time. It was sort of a chilly, blustery sort of day which caught me unexpectedly as the previous day had been hot and sunny. It was about an hour and a half on the subway to get there, but a significant portion of the trip was aboveground and afforded me some pleasant scenery once we got out of the thick of Seoul. Of course, it’s pretty continuous city between Seoul and Incheon but there are many green places in between where the cities mostly leave off for a bit.
My goal for the day was vague, I wanted to see Central Park and the sea. Other than that, I just figured I’d wander around a bit and find somewhere to read for a while. Emerging from the Central Park subway exit, I found myself in a pleasant little space in the midst of more modern, prettier highrises than the ones I’m accustomed to in Seodaemun.
The park itself was a pleasant little waterway with green spaces on either side. There was even a small cruise boat of sorts that could carry you the length of the passage, though the canal section is only about one kilometer long. There were statues and pathways with flowers and plentiful benches. Most of the glory of the summer, I’m sure, was lost by the time I made it out, but it was still reasonably decked out. I sat down across from a group of (bronze?) urinating boys, as one does, and took out my Dostoyevsky to catch up since I’ve been slacking. I had some convenience store kimbap and tea. So I passed a while and it was nice.
After a bit, I got up and decided to walk down the road to the water–the actual ocean water, not the canal. It turned out to be much farther away than I thought but it wasn’t super long. The first ten minutes or so of the street passed through a forest of apartment buildings under construction, this time the plain, unattractive ones I’m used to. It was kind of spooky, actually: the five lane road next to me was almost totally deserted, the street lights were out at several intersections, the windowless holes in the towers peering down like little hollow black eyes. On a grey, slightly blustery day that looked and felt like five or six in the evening starting around 1 o’clock. I loved it.
The second ten minutes went through a section of completed apartments that, while no more attractive, were at least a little more homey-looking. The small, landscaped areas in front were complete and unobscured by construction miscellanea. People were a little more common, though still few and far between. There was a school so it didn’t look quite so post-apocalyptic. The trees along the city street (save for the traffic and the trains) rustled gently and redly in the wind.
The last ten minutes ran between a golf course behind a literal and vegetative fence on my right and the National University of Incheon on the left. I didn’t explore there but it seemed like a pretty campus. There were still very few people and cars about and I rather enjoyed the relative isolation after the unceasing closeness of Seoul.
At last, I reached the water at a little park-ish place. I think it was where large pieces of the Incheon bridge were assembled (since, if you didn’t know, Incheon airport is actually on an island). I was above the water and couldn’t find a place to go down to it. I couldn’t smell seaweed or fish or salt. There were very few seagulls and no barnacles. Nonetheless, simply seeing the water was incredibly refreshing. I am a saltwater man through and through and, as I quoted on here a few months ago, to see the sea once is to learn how to miss it.
On Saturday, I was lucky enough to escape the city a second time though, as always, Seoul managed to be visible. I went up with a friend of mine and her family (they’re Korean) and we drove up to Namhansanseong or Namhan Mountain Fortress. It’s a bit of a castle on a hill and it had some splendid views which my rudimentary camera skills were unable to quite capture. But I had a great time. We went to dinner afterwards and it was delicious. All in all a wonderful close to my first Chuseok.
There’s not really much else to report from here. Classes have resumed as normal. I learned that next term’s intensive classes will start on 26 December and I will probably (but maybe there will be a miracle) have to work on Christmas. Which I knew coming here. But still.
And in case you were wondering, obviously I’m always psyched about Christmas but the period of intensifying expectation of the coming of Christmas season is now in full swing. Started probs a month ago. Like, I’m so ready for Christmas. I need it.