Kevin at 5:30AM, getting ready to leave Mirpia Campground for the biggest walk of this whole trip (I ended up getting under way at 6:20AM):
View from a shwimteo where I sat for a bit:
Miles later, another shwimteo, but this one is glassed in. I've never seen that before, but thanks to this walk, I've now seen everything. Oh, yeah: I took this pic while experiencing a mighty urge to take a dump, which is one of my nightmare scenarios. This shwimteo was in a little village I was walking through; there was a lot of construction going on, so I was hoping that some of the construction teams might have set up a port-a-john for me to sneak into. (This is Korea, so a port-a-john will more likely be a squat toilet than a Western-style toilet.)
The day's most serious uphill moment wasn't much of a challenge. The pink rail bridge was amusing, though, in a sickeningly Hello Kitty sort of way.
This shot probably looks more impressive when expanded to full size. Click on the photo, then right-click the enlarged image and select "show image in new tab" to see it at its largest size.
A stretch with pinwheels. Some made eerie noises as they spun in the breeze.
It wouldn't be Korea without large structures made of concrete.
Major equipment failure! I'll talk about this more in my "assessment" blog post, but suffice it to say that it sucked balls when my CamelBak ripoff suddenly ripped open of its own accord, spilling out all my water in half a second—and me with 15 km still left in my walk.
That's the top part of my water tank sticking out. You know: the part that's supposed to hold the fucking tank shut.
"Things made by the hand of man are not God." Sounds biblical. The sticker below was stuck on the wall of a restroom next to a soccer field. I was initially attracted to that soccer field because, off to the side, there was a metal stand with lots of faucets and a trough, obviously for watering the teams during and after a game. Having lost all of my water, but having figured out how to re-seal my faux CamelBak, I had been counting on finding a water source with which to refill the tank. Et voilà. Cthulhu provided.
One of the final stretches before reaching the certification center. Before this, I had walked past a sign saying the center was 2 km off. This baffled me, as Naver was telling me the cert center was 4 or 5 km away. Sure enough, I walked and walked and walked... and the sign turned out to be wrong. This is why anthropologists call Korea a "low-trust" society.
This next sign didn't lie:
I need to look on Naver Map to confirm this, but I wonder whether this partial city across the river is actually part of greater Yangsan City. (I say "greater" somewhat facetiously: I'm in Yangsan now, and it's a very, very small town undergoing massive real-estate development.)
One of two super-long stretches of deck/boardwalk that I had to cross to reach my goal:
I knew I was close to the cert center when I saw an admin building (the Korean writing on the building's wall says "Water is life"):
This sign also didn't lie:
When the rubber meets the road:
I still had about 1.4 km to walk to a nearby motel. At this point, my feet were begging for mercy, but the day was far from done: I had to walk to a motel, then walk around to find dinner and a convenience store, where I needed to buy supplies like water.
A serious-looking shwimteo, done up old-school:
My walk to the motel (guided by Naver's real-time nav) took me through a park-like area:
It's a long-running joke at this point, but make no mistake: there will always, always be a Nonghyeop Hanaro Mart. Nonghyeop is everywhere. As I wrote earlier, I really should buy stock in this company, which has quietly sunk its tentacles into every aspect of Korean life.
I'm staying at the naughtily named Bliss Hotel. Here's a peek down the second-floor hallway. I am once again at the very end of the hall, in Room 206. I'd say 9 out of 10 places have done this to me, so it's definitely not a coincidence: the foreigner gets put at the extreme end. Maybe it's because he's noisy or smelly or just too alien, but for one reason or another, the foreigner will always be marginalized. Or maybe the front-desk people think they're doing the foreigner a favor by keeping him far from the sex noises.
Two separate shower facilities: the stand-up area next to the toilet, and the bathtub-cum-shower across from the toilet. Take your pick!
With the motel paid for, the next order of business was hunting down dinner. I had told myself I'd be up for fried chicken again, and as I wandered around, I found a chicken place advertising itself as "Mexican." This turned out to be bullshit: there was only one vaguely Mexican item on the menu, so I ordered the half-and-half fried chicken: half plain, half yangnyeom, i.e., done up in a Korean-style sweet-spicy sauce. The bag of dead birds:
The boxes of chicken (and french fries, as it turned out):
And that's it. I need to shower up and rest, but I'll get to an assessment of the day later tonight or, if I'm too tired, sometime tomorrow, as tomorrow is a rest day for me. For lunch tomorrow, I'm torn between two regional specialties that keep popping up: there's sashimi (Kor. hwae) being served at tons of local hwaet-jip (횟집, sashimi restos*); there's also dwaeji gukbap (돼지 국밥), which I've seen advertised with increasing frequency the closer I get to land's end. I think I'd rather go for sashimi, as a Google Images peek at dwaeji gukbap shows that many places serve cuts of the pig that my brother Sean would love, but which I'm often loath to eat: cartilage, connective tissue, huge chunks of fat, etc.
*Koreans have a hard time deciding when to use the sa-i shiot, i.e., a syllable-final "s" that leads into another syllable, usually one beginning with a consonant. Is it "횟집" or "회집"? I've seen both spellings. A more recent discovery: is it "하굿둑" or "하구둑" (haguduk, estuary)? Not that English is any better: is it "wooly" or "woolly"? Both are used and acceptable, it turns out, like "ambience" and "ambiance."