Friday, January 20, 2006

Bridge on the River Han

Siberian wasteland, freezing sub-zero winds cutting through layers to chill me to the bone. Icicles hanging off cold, bare trees. Those are my memories of Seoul in winter. Incredibly, there is no snow or ice, this visit. The days are clear, crisp and sunny. Blue sky. The temperature hovers around freezing.

Some fortunate streak of optimism must have told me to pack gloves and a second layer, and I set off for an early run. Spurred by the cold I make good time from this hulking hotel past the Department Stores and posh apartments in the Gangnam area. 5.30 am. This sleepless city still seeing it’s last revelers home. Bleary eyed, drunk executives. Well dressed call girls. A party of happy young people. Two girls clap, and run a few yards with me.

Traffic lights, normally a welcome relief, where I get a few moments rest, are now my nemesis, as I run figure of eights to stay warm. A Japanese businessman at the Co-Ex Mall traffic light watches me curiously, and raises his hand in salute.

I get to the Han. This wide river, curving it’s way through a city of skyscrapers and traffic jams, the one unhurried sight in a rushing, overworked city. It is cold on the bridge, the steady stream of cars blowing a chill wind, but it’s just too wonderful an opportunity to miss. The city spreads in all directions. Lights shimmering on the water.

Dawn breaks as I return to the warmth of my hotel. None the worse for the wear, except for a frozen right arm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you must be mad. Why run in sub-zeros when you can snuggle into a lovely quilt, and drink scalding hot coffee at some poor employer's expense? A-ha! Masochism is the obvious answer .... or is it the thrill of 19 somethings who jog along for those few hundred metres that kicks you into action? Do tell, buddy!!!!

Mon Jan 30, 12:02:00 AM PST  

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