Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Running in the Seoul area in August is oppressive at best. I've run every morning for the last five days before 7 am, which is five more early morning runs than I've done all year. Even leaving at 6 am, as I did on Saturday, I return drenched in my own sweat an hour later, my hair looking like I've just taken a shower. The temperatures aren't extraordinary, with daily highs of around 30 degrees, but the humidity is remarkable, and the pollution doesn't help. I've been doing a lot of my running on a very busy thoroughfare (there are no street names, so I call it The Street That The School Is On) and the traffic at 6:30 is astonishing. It really is the start of a never-ending rush hour. The number of cars and trucks is staggering: there are 20 million people in the Seoul area, including 1 million of them in supposedly suburban Suwon, which has double the population of Brampton and half the area.

Even though there is a never-ending stream of green buses, all with weapons-grade air conditioning, there are just way too many people. When I finish the run and head out to work, the phalanx of high rises three kilometres away past the rice fields are invisible and the small mountains that surround Suwon are illusory shadows at best. I try not to think of how I was sucking in the same air that clouds out the buildings in front of me.

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