Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Discoveries

Not much to post about lately. I was going to write something about the North Korean nuclear test, but nobody e-mailed me with with their concerns for my safety, so I let it slide.

The one major addition to my life is my bike. I've been able to get my mileage (or rather kilometerage) up over the last few weeks. There is a so-so biking friendliness here. The new developments they're building usually have nice cushy material bike paths. The older areas of town usually have wide brick sidewalks with "bike paths" marked. Of course, you'll find more cars parked on the paths than people biking on them. Not to mention the pedestrians wondering to and fro on the bike path instead of in their appointed "lane". Paths also tend to have a lack of consistent curb access, and a lot of blind intersections (due to buildings or cars parked right up to the intersection). Biking on the street is okay, as the lanes are usually pretty wide and drivers are used to old men puttering down the street on their bikes. Of course, every time you get to a stop light everyone is so excited to make their right turns you're pretty much forced off the street. So you're stuck on the crummy sidewalks until you have the opportunity to reestablish a position. The older, more heavily populated areas of the city are frustrating to bike through due to crowded sidewalks, crowded streets, and lots of stoplight intersections. The intersections are made worse because they often don't allow two-way traffic going through them. Each directions takes their turn, so if you miss your chance to go through, you have to wait for all three other directions of traffic to cycle through. Although, I am getting better at blowing stop lights when there's no traffic. Fortunately, I'm on the south end of the busy part of Incheon. Unfortunately, if I want to take the ferry to the islands, I have to bike through a lot of this mess.

As of this week, I started riding to work. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I go to work in the morning and bike straight home at night. It's just after sunset, so it's a tad dark. I'm actually more concerned about hitting a pedestrian than getting hit by a car. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have time to do a little more biking. I have a couple of nice uninterrupted (relatively) routes that I've found. One goes through an area which they are reclaiming from the sea. As of right now, it's just a 5 or 6 mile causeway out to this little island that is home to a few factories, a nice park, and a health club. There are fishermen up and down the causeway, and not much traffic on the road.

The second route I like takes me out of town, through a massive new development project - at least 20-30 large apartment buildings going up - past a little fishing port (with lots and lots of seafood restaurants), over the river, and down a very nice bike path for several miles. Once I reach the end of the path, I'm back on a busy street for a mile or so. I then divert off the busy road and pass through another port town, again with lots of seafood restaurants. Just past this port town is the farthest I've gone on this route. I've got two choices from there. A straight road along the coast that doesn't have any four way intersections, or a bridge / causeway that goes for about 12 miles out to an island. The bridge / causeway looks to have both a wide shoulder and separate sidewalk / bike path. So I'll probably explore that more on the weekend.

So this is a great way to see areas I wouldn't otherwise have gone to. For example, today I found a fish market at one of the port towns I biked through. I was checking out the area when I saw a large crowd going into a building. I went up to the door and saw that they had a trading floor, just like at the Merc. On a much smaller scale of course, but it was undeniably recognizable. A man in the middle of the "pit" had a box of fish spread out on the concrete floor. Around the pit, men and women crowded around shouting out bids. When the bidding ended, they scooped up the fish, put them back in the box, and gave them to the new owner. As I continued over the bridge, I saw an ever larger crowd on the river side of the building. Boats were being unloaded, and large crowds of people were buying and selling fish. The first picture above is of the market area from the bridge across the river. The second picture shows fishermen unloading their catches. I plan to head back next week with my good camera and get some more pictures of the trading pits and market.

One late edition - a Google Earth picture of the places I talk about. I think the labels should be self explanatory.

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