After a memorable night at the jimjilbang, it was now time to do what we thought would be impossible: cross the bridge into Gyeonggi province, home to Korea’s capital city. I didn’t even consider the possibility that I might not make it home in time for work the next day. All of our clothing was wet, but the sun was our dryer for a bit. Steve thought to dry his clothes at 5AM. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t have been able to wake at 5AM if the world were on fire.
Uphill riding, I like. Riding uphill sparks the flint inside this old body. My legs burn. I sweat. Everything from my toes to my nose radiate with heat. The human body is a nuclear reactor. Hack it correctly and you can do much more than you thought possible. My breathing teacher has a friend in his seventies who climbs a mountain twice a day and hasn’t had solid food in four years. Yes, it’s possible. Anything is possible.
Before entering the tiny township of Inju, where buses and trains waited to allow us an exit to our pain, we stopped and consulted. Alex, as I’ve mentioned, had the least training for this adventure. Steve and I stopped and talked about how much we admired him for taking on this suicide mission, and concluded that it would not be shameful to call it quits. Steve led the discussion.
“So, Alex, how yah feeling there, bud? I’ll bet your ass is killing you.”
I interjected, “Man, my ass is feeling pretty raw.”
He nodded with his cool disposition I had come to expect. “Naw, it’s not so much my ass but this knee.”
“Yeah, so if you like, we got this town here. Why don’t we catch a bite and think about getting home?”
“Well… let’s eat and talk about it.”
With our minds made up, we plugged on towards Yesan, and were pleasantly surprised. It turns out Yesan is filled with beautiful orchards, stretching out towards the horizon. We stopped to buy a few apples and continued our trek refreshed.
As sunset came, we approached the bridge.
Finally, we reached our destination. Cycling the bridge beside the traffic was harrowing, but by this time we’d all been through enough that it barely phased us.
Finally, we, entered the small Seoul suburb of Pyeongtaek, and took a bus to Nambu terminal in Central Seoul. The journey was at an end.
The Nambu terminal had no buses back to Gunsan. I would have to get to the other terminal. I frantically rode around, trying to find out how to get to the Express Bus terminal. I finally ended up up on a subway train with Alex and Steve. The two of them chilled out while I beamed a pair of crazy eyes. I would have to run up two giant sets of stairs with my bicycle on my shoulder and buy a tickets with only minutes to departure.
I finally felt it. I was as stressed as Alex had been the night before.
I’d asked for it. Be careful what you wish for, because anything is possible.
So concludes Five Flags. Tune in again soon for more wild stories of the flying fish!