I somehow convinced three friends of mine to go on a five-hour long bike ride with me, one sunny Sunday afternoon in October. Bikes would give us a better opportunity to see more of my favourite place in Seoul: Han River. After arriving at Yeouinaru Station south of the river, we found ourselves four green bicycles with wire baskets on the front and a bell on the handlebars.
After heading east for a minute, I realized our destination, World Cup Stadium, was actually west, so I turned us around before we went too far out of our way. We casually rode along a paved biking/roller-blading/skateboarding/walking path that paralleled the river. There were many Koreans out enjoying the city, too, so we got a lot of use out of the bells. We counted the kilometre markers as we passed, careful to follow the somewhat vague directions in my guidebook.
Early on our ride, a friend pointed out what he thought was the World Cup Stadium on the north side of the river.
I laughed. “Of course it’s not the stadium. We’ve got too many kilometres to ride still, before we even think about crossing the river.”
So we kept on riding in the sunshine.
After about 14 kilometres, the path seemed end before the guidebook informed us it should. But the next step, it said, was to ride under some bridges and then continue on a dirt path beside the river, and that seemed to be what was happening here. So, we rode under a bridge and continued up a hill on a dirt road with plenty of loose gravel and potholes. But then it seemed we had no where else to go. I consulted my guidebook for help, but there was nothing.
“Would you guys be upset if I told you that we were going the wrong way?” I asked.
They laughed. “No, it’s okay, with those directions – wait, do you mean THE WHOLE TIME?” one said as she stopped laughing.
Apparently, I confused the directions between the two bike tours offered by this particular guidebook. I read the title for “Yeouinaru to World Cup Stadium” west of Yeouinaru Station, all the while following the directions to the much longer ride to Olympic Park east of Yeouinaru. Oops.
We turned ourselves around and headed back the 15 or so kilometres we had travelled. After a Ramen lunch, I was still determined to reach any destination, even if it wasn’t my intended one. We passed by what turned out to be the World Cup Stadium after all, and I somehow convinced everyone that we should attempt to ride our bikes there. So we did, even though it had started to rain. We finally crossed the river on the green bridge, as outlined by the guidebook (under the proper directions, of course). We prevailed through the rain and cold and actually made it to the stadium.
At the end of it all, my clothes were soaked, my muscles were tired, and my friends were no longer willing to trust my directions, but I was satisfied.