Every day when I go to work I get to enjoy a nice bike ride along the sidewalk connecting my neighborhood to the next where my school is. Some days I take a slow, leisurely ride; while on other days, I power it up to get my heart rate and blood pumping.
On the way, I pass by apartment buildings, stores, restaurants, and empty shells of buildings to come. Sometimes it seems construction is moving at a frenzied pace, much like everything else in life here. But other times it looks like the site is deserted for good.
I also get to see people going about their everyday lives: talking, arguing, selling, buying, bargaining, laughing, resting. It's almost like a series of movie clips spliced together to make one feature film per day.
I am disappointed when it is rainy outside, however. On those days the streets and sidewalks are too slippery to ride on, and I haven't yet mastered the skill of holding an umbrella while on a bike. Those days I'm resigned to walking to school and wishing the wind was blowing through my hair as I zipped down the hill.
Riding a bike in Korea is a great way to get from place to place and get some exercise while doing it. Bike shops are pretty common, and often you'll just stumble upon one without realizing it. Chances are there's a good bike shop in your neighborhood somewhere that can get you set up for a good price.
And there is no shortage of places to ride a bicycle. Many cities have well-defined bike parks and paths laid out along sidewalks to ease in your travels from place to place. This summer my goal is to explore the bike park near my apartment, and ride the river all the way through Gwangju to the other side.
A bicycle comes in handy for running errands. When I go up to Lotte Mart after work, I am happy that I won't have to carry my purchases in hand. I can just strap them to the rack on the back of my bike with a bungee cord and be ready to go. Then I can zip home in about 10 minutes or less, way quicker than if I walked the whole way. My body really enjoys the rush of adrenaline I get from biking around, especially after work when the temperatures are comfortable, and the sidewalks are virtually empty of the daytime crowd. It's then I can go for a longer ride, mapping out the back streets of my neighborhood and discovering new areas for later visits.
My bicycle has definitely seen a lot of use since I purchased it two months ago. I don't know why I didn't have one sooner, considering the amount of time I've lived in Gwangju. But I'm definitely making up for lost time now.
If you're looking for a great way to exercise and gain more convenience in your lifestyle in Korea, why not get a bicycle? Just make sure to obey the rules of the road, and watch out for other cyclists and pedestrians!
Maybe you'll see me out on the trails sometime!