So my first friend that I made in Korea came down to visit me. I hadn’t seen him since the penis park adventure and this time was a more spur of the moment decision for him to take a train that Friday night. Saturday we got a fairly early start (noon?) on a road trip to a village (농암종택), a temple (도산 서원), a bridge (안동 월영교), and a delicious fish dinner all around Andong 안동.
At the village, we saw a map that showed an awesome vantage point up on a hill/mountain that overlooked the village. So after we walked around the village, we were all in agreement that we should go there to take awesome pictures. The only problem was crossing the river because there was no bridge.
I was the first to plunge my warm foot into the river, and it was like sticking my foot into a bucket of ice water (believe me I KNOW). For the first few steps, it was only ankle-deep and the water was super clear. My friend’s opinion was: “It shouldn’t be too bad. The problem will be the rocks; they’ll be slick.” I felt positive that crossing the river would prove to be no problem.
So I decided I was going to approach this river carefully and to watch exactly where I placed my feet which was fairly easy to do because the river water was so clear. The riverbed was nothing but rocks in assorted shapes and sizes: from the size of grapes to the size of watermelons. The first quarter of the river was not too bad. The water was up to my knees, my feet were mostly numb, but I had not had any scary slips. I paused and enjoyed the view from the river and how clear the water ran.
As I neared the center of the river, the water got deeper (mid-thigh) and the current became stronger. (I’m only 5’1” (163cm) so I had a lot more resistance than the guys.) The rocks were slick and moved under my feet. My strategy was to look for large, stable rocks to stand on, and this mostly worked out. Then, I shifted my weight onto a not-so-stable rock. My foot slid and my toes rammed into the rocky bed, HARD. After the tenth time, my frustration was off the charts.
I attempted to ignore the pain and just trudge through without looking where I placed my feet. This only resulted in more slipping, more painful stubbed toes, a lot of splashing, and an escalating sense of panic. I stopped moving in the middle of the river and thought: I want to turn back but I CAN’T because this was mostly my idea. I can’t back down now. But If I finish crossing, I’ll have to cross again! I grew more exasperated when I saw my friend about 3/4 of the way through the river.
I was overwhelmed with an emotion I had not felt since I was child (maybe 8 years old)…it was the feeling of being helpless. I wanted to cry and scream and curse Korea, but of course I knew it would do no good. I had to get through it, and at the same time I dreaded having to cross again. I mentally regrouped myself and continued moving…but my pace was slow, the water was still freezing and up to my butt, the current was strong, and every step meant a fresh wave of pain as my toes rammed into the rocks. My friend was already on the other side of the river, sitting on the rocks. He started yelling words of encouragement at me, but it couldn’t make me move any faster. It was so frustrating but I FINALLY made it.
Was crossing the river worth it? I think so…but see for yourself. (more pics in my flickr album)
(Oh, getting back was just as much ‘fun’)