Tuesday, August 11, 2015

how a 6k walk turned into 15k

I was warned by a don from last year that it is really hard to get around Jeju-do without the use of a GPS.  The roads, she said, are really confusing and they often made wrong turns and got lost.  Undaunted, I decided to set off on an adventure this past weekend with the hope of finding a store called Hanaro Mart.  You see, the school is pretty isolated and we've been busing/cabbing 40+ mins into either Jeju City or Seogwipo for any grocery or necessity shopping.  I was hoping to find something more local that I could get to more easily via walking or cycling.  After studying a map of the area, I thought I had a good idea of where to go and how long it would take to get to this mysterious Hanaro Mart.  And so, Saturday morning, I set out.

Things did not go quite as smoothly as I anticipated.  I realized early into my walk that the mapping software I had used was not as accurate as it could be.  I should have used google maps, but I thought instead to try a different program.  The mapping issue was the route of all my problems, I think.

Here is a map of where I was hoping to go.

The original goal and rough map to Hanaro Mart--this map is not from the same mapping source I originally used and shows more detail than I had.
The roads were empty.  I didn't pass many people either.
It's 6 k, which honestly isn't that bad of a walk and should have taken about an hour, one way.  Unfortunately, the first trail I was on wasn't really marked.  It was more of a back-road trail and although it was really pretty, I walked a lot further west than I intended.  Shortly after coming out on the 1136 I asked an older Korean woman, or ajumma, where Hanaro Mart was.  I wanted her to point me in the right direction.  She was very friendly and made wide gestures, but she also spoke to me in rapid Korean, probably giving me a lot of details, all of which were lost on me.  Her gestures led me to go further west and I partly wonder if she was telling me to take the bus...

Anyway, I kept going and in the next 20 or so minutes, asked for directions a couple more times--one group of ladies definitely told me to get the bus, but I established that I wanted to walk.

Beautiful (and humid-hazy) view as I walked.
The next mistake I made was turning south.  This one was all on me as I simply misplaced myself on my mind map of the area and thought I was still too far north.  If it weren't for this mapping mistake, I probably would have made it.  However, after I turned, I didn't run into any more people for 3 kilometers.  By the time I found more people to ask (yellow-green dot on the next map), I was closer to the "next" Hanaro Mart than I was to my goal.  Naturally, when I asked for directions, I was now directed further on.

At this point, I was continuing because of pure stubbornness.  I really wanted to find Hanaro Mart.  It was hot.  I was really sweaty and I knew that despite the sunscreen I had put on I was getting a bit burned, but I really wanted to reach my goal.

Map of the route I actually walked.  At ~10k I turned around.
Purple dots are Hanaro Mart.
At last I reached a city about 2 hours into my walk.  Knowing that my initially walk should have only been 1 hour, I was a little confused.  Where had I made the wrong turn?  I explored the city for a bit, stocking up on liquids and searching for the elusive Hanaro Mart.  In the end, after little success and after finding out it was 11h15, I decided to turn around.  I wasn't sure how to take the bus back to Global Edu City and I would have to walk another 2 hours to get back to the school.  In addition, there was a bus leaving for the beach at 2 and if I wanted to go, I would need to get back in time.  So I set out the way I came.

I could see Global Edu City and was depressed by how far away it still was...
The sun was now a lot hotter, I was still extremely sweaty, and I knew I was definitely getting burned.  Occasionally vehicles passed me by and I longed for them to stop and take me with them.  I was so tired of walking.  As I reached the 3 hour point (and 15k), a taxi came toward me.  I must have cried out or looked at it with such longing that the driver stopped a ways from me.  I didn't hesitate and rushed to the car.  He understood where I wanted to go and not even 10 mins later I was walking up to my room.

I really did enjoy my walk despite the wrong turns and extra kilometers, it was fun to explore the surrounding countryside.  But I am so thankful that the taxi came along when it did, and even more thankful that he stopped for me.

Here's to more adventures to come!

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