Friday, October 14, 2011

The Epikest Walk (so far)

When I was a little kid, I had this crazy dream. It was about this girl I liked, and it also involved walking from Lawrence to Topeka, which was an incomprehensible distance of 20 miles. I immediately started writing about it, it was pretty much the first time I ever took pen to paper for kicks. I'm sure I've over- romanticized this dream in the intervening decades, but really, it all started for me that night. Since then, it's all been road trips (extremely successful), writing (less so), and girls (depends). Shit was influential, mythology or no.

Recently, I had a four day holiday weekend with nothing in particular to do. I wrote a post listing a few choices, and ultimately I landed on an epic walk. In the spirit of that nutty dream, I decided to hoof it about 20 miles, to Incheon. Since Incheon is basically the Topeka of Korea, it seemed like a good choice. Add in the fact that I'd be able to hit up a new Taco Bell on the way, this definitely seemed like a solid plan.

Just under an hour into the walk, I passed through downtown Seoul. Sure, I've seen the Jongno Tower a million times, but it felt more photo-worthy under the circumstances.

I always dug the Mies van der Rohe style of the SK building.

Two hours in. The back side of Seoul Station. My first run in with fairly ghetto-style buildings.

Took a note of this place, hit it up later in he weekend. Great sauce. Samgakji Station if you're local.

The Han River, with the 63 building looming.

D-Cube Mall, Seoul's newest. This is also the home of the new Taco Bell. It's also Korea's best mall, with a Uniqlo, an H&M, and cool outdoor spaces on upper floors to drink.

Finally leaving Seoul. Between Seoul and Incheon lies Bucheon, where I would spend the night after 8 hours of walking. Maybe I should have left home before 4 p.m.

At best. I would have gone to this bar if it were B-.

Here's the hotel room that I overpaid for in Bucheon. I was too lazy to comparison shop. At least it had HD, and it even ran real (non-edited) porn, which I think is illegal here.

Day 2 - finally made it to Incheon.

Bupyeong Station. Busiest part of Incheon. It was here that I met my buddies Martin and Kris, who took the train from Seoul. We went straight to a Mongolian bar we saw to drink Mongolian beer, cuz hey, how often do you get to try Mongolian beer?

I liked this, because outside of the tile roofs it kinda looked like neighborhood Chicago architecture.

Cool dog eh?

New Songdo City. This is the crazy futuristic hood they are building in southwest Incheon. Full disclosure - we took the subway here. I was wiped from day one. Right now, not much goes on in Songdo, as you can see.

Back at Bupyoeng. Amazing amount of love motels around. This was just one of many blocks that had nothing but motels.

Here's another.

Day 3. The skyline of Songdo from old downtown Incheon, near the port. Again, we took the subway here from Bupyeong.

The Incheon Bridge. Notice my horrible photography skills.

Wolmido, an amusement park near downtown Incheon. Happiest place in western northern South Korea.

Sign says it best.

Home of Korea's spiciest chicken on a stick. For reals. Wolmido.

A final word - Incheon may really be the Topeka of Korea. People I meet in the provinces tend to be weird, but in Incheon they were exceptionally so. Incheon has nearly 3 million people, yet it felt like everyone knew everyone. When we went to Incheon's "coolest" expat bar, the scene made Topeka feel legitimately metropolitan. Said it before and I'll say it again - I have no idea why any foreigner would live outside of Seoul or Busan.

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