Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Want to Buy a Bike



I live in a cool apartment. I really do. While there are a few things less-than-perfect about living here and doing what I'm doing, there's a great deal to be said about the positives. Every American I speak to, while they aren't presumably being hassled by angry male Korean hikers at subway stops, are telling me that they've been back home and there just isn't a better situation that they'll find here in Seoul.

Of course, that's not true for everyone, but one particular guy I spoke with today was convinced that he'll be here for a while. He's got a government job. He lives in my building (so you know he's got a cool apartment), and he likes teaching his Elementary School kids. "It's easy," he says. This particular gentleman did previously spend 2 years with the Peace Corps in fairly challenging conditions in the Ukraine, so I can see why the ease and the quality of life that it can bring about here in Korea would seem appealing in the long term.

True enough. And while the "ease" of certain aspects of life can drive me batty, there are things that I know I'd be crazy to give-up. With an impending move to Canada to finish my teaching degree - a thing that some people I know say is an achievement 34 years in the making, and which I know is a necessary thing for my future happiness and sense of fulfillment - I begin to ponder what I will miss about "life" here.

To be completely honest, aside from the people I love, my apartment is likely number one on the list. I dig on the city and all that, I really do, but my apartment makes living in this city that much better. As a friend here who recently upgraded his living conditions knows, wanting to come home at the end of the day (as opposed to staying at school until 9PM nightly so as to avoid your cell-sized bachelor pad) can really change your outlook.

I live way up North. There's no Starbucks nearby (which is a relative rarity here in Seoul), but there is everything I need within immediate walking distance. Also within walking distance is the Jungnangcheon - not quite a river, but certainly larger than a stream, which leads straight down to the Han River. It's under 5 minutes away from my front door. The bike pathways are clean, clear, and they make sense.

What I'm trying to say is - I'd be crazy not to buy a bike. A friend of mine recently made a bike journey with a friend - all the way to Busan, which is on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. This he did on a Lespo Grasshopper, which you can see just below. It looks like a solid ride, and it was perfect for the journey, which looked rather cold, by the way.

It's an option, but another one I'm considering is the little guy you saw at the top of the post. I've seen a few of these around and though they look like they wouldn't be able to get you over a small pebble, for flat terrain (which the river pathways obviously are) they are a very good option for those of us with small if ultra-cool apartments. The wheel to main sprocket size ratio is what makes the wheel size otherwise irrelevant in terms of speed - no, it won't get me to the cruising speed of a regular-sized bike, but pretty close. I'm really thinking about this, and I'm going to likely be making the purchase sometime in the next month. It's an investment. It gets me out, and it would fit in a little cubby-hole right here at home. Best of all, when I need to go back to Canada for school, this little guy would be coming with me without question, so I don't look at this as a short-term investment.

Anyway, I'll report back when I've got more of a solid plan. We'll see what fits the budget, and which one will fit my long-ass legs. I'm looking forward to a good ride - I might even take it to school and save on commuting costs. Nice. If you'd like to check-out more, go to www.strida.com - if the cost doesn't seem justified, there are cheaper options. We shall see.

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