Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The risks we take are what make life more exciting...

... Of course they can also end up making life a lot shorter, too. The key is to find the right balance.

It ended up being a pretty nice day last Sunday. Lots of sunshine, no winds, and relatively cool temperatures. Consequently I got to do some cycling.

I went from Andong to a place called Dosan Seowon. A total of 55.25* kilometers. I averaged 19.8* kilometers per hour which is pretty good considering the hills along the way. This trip had several hills that were quite a push. One or two almost made me want to get off and walk, but what is the use of a bike with 21 gears if you end up walking. So I toughed it out and ended up gearing all the way down to the granny gear several times.

Of course what goes up, must come down, so thanks to the hills I hit a maximum speed of 54.4* kilometers an hour. I have done better, but not very often. Besides, things do get a bit dicey once you get up to those speeds on Korean roads. Also, I am a little hesitant to push those speeds too often due to the fact that I currently don't wear a bike helmet (Yeah, I know, not too smart.), and the state of Korea's emergency services.

I am sure if I were ever to have an accident in town, I could be taken to a local hospital fairly quickly and not suffer much from any slight delay in treatment. However, out on the open road it is a different story. If I did have a serious accident, and someone did bother to call for help, I would more than likely expire even before someone could get to me. Helicopters in Korea for police or emergency services are virtually non-existent, as far as I know, and paramedics (where they exist) or ambulances rarely leave the vicinity of the fire station or hospital they are associated with. It is kind of telling that usually 4 or more tow trucks will show up at a traffic accident even before the police do, and only then would an ambulance be called if they think there might be a body to take back to town.

What would probably happen is some citizen might stop to have a look, maybe even thinking of doing a good deed. However, on seeing that I was a foreigner, they would probably get scared or flustered and back away because they would be afraid of using their English, even though I would be unconscious. If I were lucky, they might drag my body off the road and put in an anonymous call to the police. If I were really lucky, they might have the sense of mind to put me in their car and drive me to the closest clinic. Unfortunately, any health facilities outside a decent size city would have a difficult time dealing with or even stabilizing an accident victim.

At this point, if you are good at math, you might be saying to yourself, "But hey, at the most you were only 27.625 kilometers away from home and a hospital." (I actually live behind a hospital.) And I would respond, "Yeah, what's your point. This is Korea." Remember, here things don't quite work the way you are used to or would expect them to.

* OK, so I like my little electronic gadgets. So sue me.

There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval.
- George Sanatayana


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