Monday, January 04, 2010

High 눈

A foot of snow fell over Seoul today, making it the largest snowstorm here since 1937. I stumbled out the door for a quick run before my first day of work, but since this building, like others, leaves the front door open, I saw the snow from the landing on the second floor. Outside, the sun was not quite up and the snow was falling furiously, with about 4-5 inches already on the ground. It didn't quite seem real. The snow here is very dry, so it was like running through a pile of cotton candy.

At about 7:30, nobody was really out except for department store workers using a high-tech snow removal tool wherein a trough-like appendage is attached to a stick, facilitating the carrying of snow, as well as sand or dirt. Those that didn't have these settled for brooms, dustpans, these bundles of sticks I thought only existed in India, or even the flat tops of crates. In a nod to Toronto, the army was called in, the subway was so packed that not only was it impossible to get on a train, but in some cases it was impossible to get into a station.

Running in the snow is fantastic, especially when you get to it before anybody else, especially the plows. It's good to know that you didn't need the footsteps of others, or their shovels or their plows or their modern medicine with its hip replacements or antibiotics to help you put together a solid workout. I think I ran a solid 5k tempo in something like 21 minutes, if there wasn't shin-high fluffy snow to contend with, there was the polished cement underneath it all, which really was not designed to be covered with snow and feels like well-groomed ice.

Needless to say, school was cancelled. The last time I can remember a snowstorm of any significance in Korea, it was Lunar New Year late last January, when maybe 4-5 inches fell in the morning. A man interrupted my solitary run along rice fields to ask me if I was really just looking for a taxi. It took 20 minutes instead of 20 seconds to catch a taxi, which then drove at 20 km/h down a plowed but empty 8-lane road with a dusting. We arrived at school horribly late to find that we were the only ones there. This year, I calmly strolled in 40 minutes early to be told the unsurprising news.

I enjoyed the snow so much that I went out for some mile repeats in the evening. Ilsan, this northern suburb, has a large park with a man-made lake, really a pond (coming from the Great Lakes, a lake has to be the size of a small country), at its centre. Normally its reasonably busy at night, but today it had an eerie calm. The lights were on, the roughly 5-kilomtre path around it was well-plowed, but there were only a handful of people there. About half of them were wisely taking pictures on the frozen, snow-covered pond. The rest were walking around carrying camera equipment that looked like they could broadcast live to TV if they needed, also wisely taking the opportunity to enjoy the calm and the snow.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This sounds so beautiful.