Guest post by Jan Bono
Blog contributor Jan Bono recently snuck off to do some traveling, and what's your guess: did she loll around the whole time in a lounge chair sipping exotic cocktails? Or did she find ways to get exercise even while dealing with a hot climate and a foreign culture?
For those of you new here, Jan is an intrepid weight-loss warrior, who despite the statistical odds, shed an enormous number of pounds and continues to maintain her healthy habits. You can check out her book “Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” in print or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords page.
But in the meantime, let's take a vicarious trip to the Far East, shall we? --Crabby McSlacker.
A former colleague of mine has a son and daughter-in-law currently teaching in Seoul, Korea. Using their apartment as a “home base,” (a.k.a. “free place to stay!”) we were able to spend the full month of June in Asia, including a week touring southern Japan and another week in China, split between Beijing and Xi’an.
I’d worried that I wouldn’t be active enough while “on vacation,” and that without spending two hours on my recumbent bike each morning, as per my regular routine, I’d not be burning enough calories to justify all the exotic foods I was eager to taste.
Not to worry! I came home with the strongest (read: rock-hard) calves and thighs of my entire 61-year life!
There was a nice park right across the street in front of my hosts' apartment in the Nowon-gu District of Seoul. It had a pleasant (level and paved) walking trail around the perimeter, and many pieces of exercise equipment strategically placed throughout.
Me, I’m more of a purist when on vacation. I prefer to get my workout while going about my day-to-day living with enthusiasm and zest.
And to that end, crossing the bridge up and over the multi-lane highway dividing two areas of the park, I always opted for the stairs. The Rainbow Bridge was fully-ramped for handicap access, but climbing the beautifully-painted stairs was truly appealing, and had the added benefit of helping me meet my fitness goals.
(Singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at the top of my lungs every time I did so was just the sprinkles on the frosting of the cupcake of my efforts to improve lung capacity.)
Occasionally, more to feel noble than to get any cardio benefits, I chose to take the stairs for a few flights when we entered or exited the apartment building.
And all that was well and good, but now here’s where I get CRANKY...
Seoul (population 11.5 million, which is roughly the combined populations of the STATES of Washington and Oregon) boasts the third largest subway system in the world. (Tokyo and Moscow are one and two.) I, however, was not raised anywhere near a city with a subway, and in fact, have only twice in my life navigated an underground transportation system, and not until this trip did I attempt to brave it on my own.
And what surprised me most about the subway systems in all three countries I visited was this: in all those miles and miles of tunnels and platforms and transfer stations, I’d estimate that at least half the time, you’d be hard-pressed to find a working escalator to get you from one level to the next!
That means, as you rush, helter-skelter, to find the right train, on the right track, going the right way, to the right destination, and buying the right ticket (or tickets) for the right transfer(s), none of which is explained in English, you must also hike yourself up and down seemingly endless sets of cement steps, often without the benefit of a handrail.
But that would never do, as I’d have surely been trampled by hordes of young Koreans, or young Japanese, or young Chinese, who have mastered the art of walking everywhere, whether upstairs or down, with their faces glued to their smart phones, thumbs just a-flying across the buttons and keys.
I did, however, need a boost up those last six steps... No handrails! Indeed!