Sunday, July 5, 2009

The banks of the river run through my hometown...

'The banks of the river run through my hometown'...well they do if I considered Seoul my hometown.

But seriously can I talk about the banks of the rivers and streams in Seoul? They are phenomenal! 10's of miles lined with badminton and basketball courts, aerobic line dancing to crazy Korean Pop, kick-ball-volleyball, drunk old men, inline-skate race courses, half-pipes and skate parks, climbing walls, happy children, fishermen, happy old people...all kinds of old people...even the kind that drive those 4 and 3-wheel powered scooters around because their hips failed too soon), thousands of cyclists from EVERY walk of life, random congregations, and unconditional acts of kindness. The banks of the river are a utopia. It's void of commercialism, save the occasional nondescript Makali Hut--a $1.60 for 750 milliters of a refreshing alcoholic beverage of pure Korean enjoyment in the shade.

Since Jes and I have been riding our bikes more, we've been getting more familiar with the banks of the river and it's absolutely's everything you want your city's bike paths to become...socially nonexclusive, commercial free, community oriented, social interaction encouraged, recreation encouraged, all ages welcome, at all hours of every day.

Yesterday, we decided to forge our way through Seoul via bike to our friend's house...typically he would be a 1 hour subway ride from our apartment...Turns out he is a 1.45 hour bike ride from our house. 99.9% of our journey was on dedicated bike lanes and 99.8% of it is was on completely isolated from vehicle traffic bike lanes. The ride there was g-o-o-d; the inebriated return ride home at midnight was unforgettable. I think there we're more people traveling, singing, using, recreating, playing instruments, dancing, confiding, fishing, sweating and embracing on those narrower strips of land than anywhere else in East Asia last night.