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Trip 37 — Jeju and Xiamen Walks

Jeju day 2: Jeju City to Hallim
Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Today: 33304 steps/27.54 km/17.11 mi/4h 56m
Total: 37451 steps/30.91 km/19.21 mi/5h 34m

I had an urge to spend the morning reading about how machines process information much faster than I do. So instead of heading directly to the coast, I went inland a few blocks and visited the Nexon Computer Museum.

Not all of the exhibits were written to give mere humans an inferiority complex. One explained how the processing done by people, from input of information to speech or action, was used as a model for the processing done by computers, from input of information to display, print, or action. There were dozens of old computers, such as the Apple I and the TRS-80, and a replica of the first mouse, demonstrated in 1968.

Terms and products I hadn't heard mentioned in years made me think: Oh, I remember that! The Newton. The Palm Pilot. Programming in BASIC. Typewriters and personal digital assistants. Monitors limited to 16 colors. Floppy disks in various sizes. Programs loaded from a cassette tape.

One floor was devoted to video games. At the entrance was a full arcade-size Space Invaders. Video games got too complicated for me sometime around Super Mario Brothers, but Space Invaders was one I knew I could play, even if I didn't remember the details. I gave it a try — no coin needed! Oh, right, the one where my little ship is on the bottom and I have to shoot the grid of aliens marching across the screen before they bomb me. I did all right. I even almost cleared the board a couple of times.

Other people were playing games I'd never heard of: Xevious, Bubble Bobble, Burger Time, Gradius, Mechanized Attack — with names like that, it's no wonder kids are drawn to violence. Adults were dancing to the beats requested of them in music games. I recognized only two other games: Arkanoid and, of course, my beloved Pac-Man. A game that involves eating rather than shooting. How wholesome.

They had a table Pac-Man game on which the joystick was in need of some lubricant, and they had the game on an Atari 2600. In this 1977 version, Pac-Man's diet was dashes rather than dots. Because of the age and small size of the monitor, it was hard to see the state of edibility of the monsters.

I went back to Space Invaders. I was determined to finish the first round. I'd forgotten how fast the aliens scramble when there are only a couple left, and this joystick was a little sticky, too. But with perseverance I achieved my goal, even earning the high score of 1950, which everyone playing the game for the rest of the day — who would admittedly not likely be very numerous — would see as the standard to beat. I'm always looking for ways to make my parents proud.

I walked through the part of Jeju City west of the airport, along a wide road with exasperatingly timed signals. I was glad I'd stayed in the calmer area by the Pearl. This wide road merged with the coastal highway, which was still some distance from the water and had fast-moving traffic.

Eventually the coastal road branched off and meandered along the water. In Gueom village was a harbor and a few restaurants. I picked one and had Jeju-style sashimi of damselfish, a light, white fish enhanced by a spicy red sauce, accompanied by cold, refreshing fish soup. When I entered, there were two boisterous parties of ten. They soon departed, leaving me as the only patron, watching the crew on the fishing boats in the harbor.

Sometimes I kept to the road, sometimes I took the trail that intersected it from time to time. The trail provided a respite from the cars but not the heat. The afternoon was the kind of hot where I didn't need to move to sweat and I had to stop into every establishment bearing a sign with a picture of a cold drink.

I stopped four times in Aewol alone, first for fresh mango juice at a Philippine dessert cafe, then for cold water from a convenience store, then frozen watermelon juice, and finally on Aewol's "Cafe Street." Here I tried hanrabong juice, made from a citrus fruit with a taste reminiscent of a mandarin infused with yuzu, and watched people rowing in clear-bottom boats.

The watermelon juice was probably the most prudent purchase, because it took long enough to thaw that I didn't drink it too fast and it could keep my forehead cool in the meantime. The coastal road merged back into the fast road for the last hour. By now it was the late afternoon and the sun's intensity had marginally subsided. I might have paused again at Cafe Cola, a quirky Coca-Cola-themed cafe, but I arrived just as they were closing.

The Jeju Sky Hotel is about a ten-minute walk from the water, and my west-facing room allowed me to watch a glorious sunset. I'd been seeing restaurants all day, but this area was quieter than I'd expected, and all I found for dinner at 8:30 was more Korean barbecue. This time I tried the meaty and fatty shoulder of the black pig and the part listed on the menu as "seagull," which is really a skirt steak cut from the muscle attached to the pig's diaphragm.

The black pigs themselves are a small breed native to Jeju, with distinctive black skin and long, smooth hair. In the village in which the girls of "The Island of Sea Women" grew up, the pigs were kept under the latrines of homes. They would feed on human waste and, in turn, fertilize the soil until they were slaughtered themselves, usually for a special occasion. This kind of setup was common on the island until the 1960s.

I walked back to the hotel aided by brilliant flashes of lightning. The rain hasn't come, as far as I can tell, but I wouldn't mind a bit to temper the heat for tomorrow's walk.

Go on to Jeju day 3