Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Death March

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A rat in the pot
The sun in the sky, and us
Just walking on by

We awoke in the dawntime darkness at Mr. Paul’s, slightly cold from the air conditioner. It’s hard to calibrate those things when blankets range in thickness so widely.

Evan went to answer nature’s morning call, but came back to me as I was packing the bags, his face twisted into confusion. “We can’t use the toilet,” he said. “There’s a rat in it.”

“A what??”

“A rat. Just sitting there. In the toilet.”


“I’m gonna go piss across the street.”


So we pulled our cold breakfast of apples, milk, peanut butter, and bread out from the refrigerator and sleepily ate it. We liberally watered Mr. Paul’s garden across the street and set out.

It was already blistering hot for the day, though mercifully we had a bit of a sea breeze as we finished off trail 5. We were in a bit of an exhaustion haze, after managing to convince ourselves to keep going yesterday, it was both easier and harder today as we were closer to our destination but even more tired. We took few pictures, stopped for breaks when we felt we couldn’t continue without them, and generally tried to keep moving as much as possible to avoid falling asleep on the trail.

Trail 5 passed by, and it was on to trail 6. An oreum loomed by the seaside, and the path went up it, but in the rain that was starting and our states of mind we thought it was more appropriate to skip it for now. We saw another couple do the same.

We had promised our friend Jim, who volunteers with the Jeju Olle Trail people, that we would swing by the Olle office on our way, to say hello to the folks who made the trail possible. It seemed like an interminable distance to get there, but we eventually did, with the rain threatening to rip apart the sky and the heat still unbearable.

We sat inside for a few minutes, chatting with the PR rep for the trail. Apparently she had heard that we were coming for our Olle completion certificates, which we aren’t at all close to… so we had to explain that there was some kind of miscommunication, and that we were just stopping by to see the heart of the operation. She said it was no problem, gave us her card, and sent us on our way with directions to a restaurant in Seogwipo.

Trail 6 must usually be breathtaking, although we didn’t notice it at the time. We wound past waterfalls and quaint seaside trails, fortunately not the sort that brought us over unset rocky paths. We eventually arrived in Seogwipo and became horribly lost, since apparently the trail has changed its route through there since our map book was printed. We got a few pointers that eventually led us to where the restaurant was supposed to be, then asked a man in the area where it was when a quick search didn’t turn it up. He frowned as he looked at the name scrawled on our paper, crossing it out and replacing it with some other restaurant’s name. We weren’t sure what happened, but he gave us directions to this new place instead. We didn’t find it, either, and, tired and hungry, we sat down at the first place we could find to pile in all the food we could. We were actually so ravenous that we couldn’t wait until the small plates came out; we instead pulled Snickers bars from our bags and ate them while we waited.

Lunch over, we trudged up yet another hill to a lodging recommended by our guidebook. They happily had a room available on the first floor (only one flight of stairs! score!!) for two nights, so we showered and took a nap in the air con for an hour.

We managed to pull ourselves out of bed long enough to go for dinner at another place recommended by our guidebook. This place is owned by a Seogwipo artist’s wife (according to the book), and they are known for a 15-plate fixed menu. We ordered this, and we were delighted to watch the table fill up with pickles, sesame coated noodles, fried fish, tofu soup, scrambled eggs, small salads, and much more. We ate it all, and our Filipina waitress laughed and told us that they prefer to have foreign diners since Koreans always leave little bits on every plate (this is a politeness thing rather than an appetite thing), and when Westerners come there are no leftovers to throw out.

Happily full again, we returned home, where we stayed awake for maybe almost an hour reading our books before it’s time to doze off again. We are exhausted…