The minute we left the subway we were approached by several persons. While Ina and I averted our eyes, Yuchin took the first flyer with a friendly smile. But as soon as the others saw she accepted it, she quickly collected a pile of them. Now you may think that… even though she got a lot of flyers, they must at least offer you different things, right? Well, guess what, all they offered was fried chicken, each and every one of them. Only after surviving the flood of flyers did I notice the view and the area; we had arrived at the Hangang river.
Truth be told, we were pretty hungry. It is possible to order chicken and let it be delivered at the Hangang river, that is what those flyers were meant for. Instead of ordering though, we sat down in a little restaurant where- surprise, surprise- they also sold fried chicken (and beer- Koreans love that combination).
While eating I got to know Yuchin a little better. She was born and raised in Korea and has now nearly completed university where she studies history. Her aim is to become a teacher which will add 3 additional years to her study. She speaks Korean, English and German and met Ina in Germany. The day before Ina and I visited a prison. One information board noted the ending date of the second world war which left us in wonder… when exactly did it start again? People often know when it ended but not when it started and so to test that, Ina asked Yuchin when the second world war started. Yuchin didn’t recall the year either: “I need to study more,” is what she said then.
Study more, huh? I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say that in the Netherlands- not during a conversation like this. Pick any of the following responses instead: “It has been years since I had this topic in high school.” or “So what? I can look it up.” or “Pfft, as if you knew.” That sounds more like it, don’t you think? I mean, more as in what we are used to. After Yuchin finishes her last week of University, she will immediately start attending summer school. When asking if she got any vacation at all she said she got a weekend. A weekend? You count that as a vacation? Last time I checked, our schools do not even count the weekends into a vacation period, which leads me to realise I have a pretty good life. (By the way, if you are curious, the second world war started in 1939.)
Anyhow, there we were, at the Hangang River, the place in Seoul where people go to bicycle. The cycling trail is located right next to the river and 80kms long in total. There are several places where you can rent bicycles for €2,38 per hour. The entire trail is flat and, therefore, felt so… so… boringly Dutch.
The view was really nice though. On our little one-hour trail, we passed a few highlights, the first being the National Assembly Building to which we did not give much attention to be honest. The second highlight was a little… what seemed-to-be-used-as-a-pool. The place is called Cascade and is perfect for little children, as well as adults who aren’t ashamed of having fun. Next to the dozen of fountains rainbows appear every 5 minutes.
Our next and last stop: the monster of… some Korean movie which turned out to be pretty bad, according to Yuchin and Ina. What else can you do here but hold casual conversations?
Now, there are also other activities that you can do near this river. You could play basketball, take a ferry or go camping. On another day, Ina and I set out to see the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain. During certain hours, there is a light and water show which should supposedly give us the impression of a rainbow.
You should know that the colours are stronger on camera. We could barely see any colours with our own eyes and as you can see, even on camera it does not look like a rainbow. We were kind of disappointed and don’t think it is worth to go here unless you are already there.
However, the Hangang river is a nice place to be. It gives you the feeling as if you are a little outside of the city. Don’t be fooled by the clean impression though, we found a dead fish in the water.