From Yeoksam to the Edge of Seoul

The rainy season is upon us, but we still like to get out and walk and/ or see a game (or two). So, with all of the above in mind, Craig and I decided to walk to a second division baseball game not far past the Walker Hill. We have walked along the Han River any number of times, as it has been nicely developed for walkers/ cyclists, with bathrooms and convenience stores at, well, convenient distances so you can walk for several hours unencumbered by water bottles, sit down for a drink, go to the bathroom, and keep going.

Another benefit of walking along the Han during the rainy season, is the proximity to main roads (and the taxis that cruise them) if when it starts pouring. Well, pouring for me, sprinkling for Craig. For someone who regularly hikes/ wild camps in England, he is surprisingly averse to even a sprinkle of rain. But I digress. The irony of our plan would only become clear hours later, when we were in the early stages of heat stroke.

It all started out nicely enough. We were quite encouraged by the sunny weather, and thought we might actually get to see a bit of baseball, despite our extremely late start. We always start out by heading from home (Yeoksam Station) toward the Sports Complex, where we join the river. Well, not THE river, but you can access the stream which connects to the Mighty Han.

The effects of the rain were immediately clear and we briefly worried that we would face a repeat of last year’s ill-fated hike to the World Cup Stadium. The water was very high, and some stretches of walking path had been damaged to the point that we were forced to periodically walk on the paved cycling path. It looked as if the banks had been breached and the sand formerly filling the cinder block path had been washed away.

We were soon past that bit and making good time (for us). That, and the sunny skies started making us feel a bit cocky about our chances of seeing some baseball. After an hour or so, we stopped at a riverside Family Mart with a few empty chairs and Gatoraded up. Craig feels the heat about 1000x more than I do, so he was probably in need of an IV, but you work with what you’ve got. Electrolytes suitably replenished, we continued on our way, happy the sun was still shining above us.

An hour or so later, we stopped for another rest in the shade and a cool beverage. By this time, it was feeling fairly hot, and Craig’s face was showing early signs of a burn, but we knew we were getting close, and we could catch a cab anytime, so we pushed on. We had decided that the stadium would be easier to see from across the river, so we wanted wait to cross until we had seen it. No problem, there are lots of bridges crossing the Han, right? Um… actually, had we consulted The Googles beforehand, we would have seen that the only nearby bridge was still under construction (early stages of construction are clearly visible in Satellite View on Google Maps). So, when we were across the river from the stadium, we could see it, but there were no nearby bridges. LOL

So close, yet so far… The bridge is quite a bit further along now, but won’t open for another year.

No problem, there would be another game the next day. Since we had started out so late, we had initially considered the walk a trial run: if we were too late, at least we would know how long we needed to walk there. So, armed with that knowledge, as well as were we would need to cross the river, we set about getting from the river to the road to flag a cab home. That didn’t take too long– just about all of the path is parallel to a major road, it’s just a matter of getting to a path connecting the two.

Soon enough, we were up on the main road… looking at a sign pointing one way to Daejeon and another to Chuncheon. LOL indeed. Oympic Daero seemed to have become a toll road. At any rate, the speed limit was over 80, so we knew there would be no taxis pulling over here.

Now that it had been about an hour since our last drink or bit of shade, that sun which had been encouraging us to hurry along to the game seemed to have become intent on killing us. Well, me, anyway. As much as the heat usually bothers Craig and not me, all I wanted to do was lie down on the path and take a nap. I trudged on with him patiently cheering me along, and within about 30 minutes, we were back to civilization, in an air-conditioned cab, chugging down Coke Zero all the way home.

Craig, not put off by all of this, went to the Sunday game (LG Twins vs Sangmu), only to find it was in the 6th inning, 10 minutes before the advertised start time. At least he had taken a cab.