Seoul, South Korea
I spent my morning mostly sleeping – the Chinese girl in the hostel who is beholden to me for lending her my kindle charger overnight started conversation with “I saw you asleep over there” as if that were the defining moment of my day, and she wasn’t far off. The evening ended with me returning from a run to much respect and “we’re having beer and chicken” which is a perfect thing for hunger and tired thighs.
I found the sports shop – there are two stations in Dongdaemun, I needed the Cultural and history park one, listed in my app as Dongdaemun stadium. I haven’t time left in Seoul to order a Seoul Flyers running top, but if I can find a plain one then they’ll put the logo etc on there.
I had gone to join the Flyers. Again – lucky they have so many sessions, allowing for tourists to miss a run through directional challenge and pick up another later in the week. Weds and Thurs are both mountain runs from the same place. Perfect, found the Hyatt, found a large group and one was wearing a Flyers vest. I’m in the right place. Lots of young folk, male and female. I stood around, wondering why the girl ahead of me had passed me and run up the hill, looking at her watch, when we still had over 10 minutes to go. Then a British voice announced we’d better go and I jogged off up the hill with all the good looking boys and girls, where I felt I belonged. A small group remained, I heard tell of “off to do our thing” but didn’t worry about it. We warmed up round a tiny flower bed, odd but okay, and then ran off a short way and did 8 lots of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, squat and jump. Very tough, and my thighs ached by now – this can’t be ideal warm up for a mountain run? As we went through the next circuit, the instructor said hi and asked how I’d heard of them; “on the web”, I said. A few of the boys introduced themselves and talked nutrition. They seemed so smiley and happy, keen to spread the word (“a few nuts, just to keep you going”) that for a moment I wondered if I was among a cult. As we had the next circuit explained, 5 lots of jump, bounce, burpees, box jumps, dips and push ups, separated by running, I was now certain that I was in the wrong place. I’d joined in, not with the moonies at least, but with British army fitness in Korea, or Bafik. I figured it was probably better for me than another run, though a tough mountain run would have been good, and given me a chance to talk to the Flyers about getting on to Saturdays base run, plus to see if there really were any places in the event on Saturday night; on Tuesday they’d been rumoured, but the Facebook group doesn’t hold the promised offers of bibs. No matter.
Feeling a bit daft but gratifyingly sore of thigh, I checked the GPS to see the hostel was 6.5km away in a straight line, so I could still get a run in. It was very slow, with a first section down precipitous descents and a mid section up 1 in 3 or worse inclines not helping. Still, only two backstreet dead ends later, I’d added a run to my beasting.
Talk, drink and booking a flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok to avoid the border queues finished my day. Avoiding the adventure, I think, but I’ve decided to value my time and just in general get on with the trip. Apparently the real pain is in going in to Cambodia, where tuk tuk drivers will take you to fake visa places, with real soldiers completing the illusion, but even heading into Thailand can take several hours. So I’ll fly, and make for Malaysia and Singapore overland, back on the train. Cambodia doesn’t have trains in any case, and missing out on a bus ride doesn’t feel as much like cheating as missing a train journey would.