Road Trip to Paju, Part 2

(Link to interactive map)

And so here we are at Part 2:

After replacing my cell phone battery at a war memorial flocked with the sons and daughters (well, there was only one daughter) of American soldiers, I continued my trip. The weather was really quite nice– especially so– considering that S. Korea has been hit with two typhoons this past month.

Even though I was riding alongside fairly heavy traffic at times, some of the views were absolutely spectacular… and alpine. Korea is a fascinating place, visually speaking. Everywhere one looks there is this juxtaposition of modernity, of nature, of the past. Ultimately I found the views very stimulating even though I was beginning to get a bit tired.

A few kilometers into Anyang, I got a flat tire. The culprit? A metal clip. I found this ironic because of the metal packing plant that I had passed by earlier in the day… the way I saw it, the metal packing plant (and the man that scolded me for taking pictures of it) must have been a foreshadowing of this misfortune. Look at the tire! Crazy!

So there I was, on Route 1, working on the tire. Some men at a nearby car mechanic shop saw me and wanted to help. They mimed for me to walk my bike over to their shop and then they proceeded to pop out the tire and patch the severely punctured tube. The tire itself had such a bad gash in it that they ended up jimmy rigging it with a patch and cement meant for car tires!

After they had finished up, I asked them how much for all of their work. The owner of the repair shop said to me (in the only bit of English that was said to me during my hour in the garage), “service, service.” It was incredibly generous and helpful. And fortunately for me, their patch job held up very well for the remaining 35 miles of my ride.

Finally, dear readers, I made my way into downtown Seoul. So exciting! I stopped to snap a picture of the Hangang Bridge before crossing over it.

I made my way down to the bike path that ran alongside the Han River. To get down to the path, I had to take a freight elevator that I found on the other side of the Hangang Bridge (I had to cross the street to reach it). Biking along the Han River was such a welcome change from Route 1. As it was a Saturday afternoon, many people were out rollerblading, cycling, running, and playing with their children along the path. It was quite idyllic.

The red bridge below is the Seongsan Bridge.

After travelling along the bike path for a while, my cell phone beeped at me… it was on its last legs (for the second time). I kept going, hoping to find a spot at some point along the path to charge it up for the remainder of the journey (there wasn’t much more to go)… After a while (and after my cell phone beeped its last sputtering beep), I came upon a Mom-and-Pop trailer that served pajeon (파전) and makgeolli. I stopped there for a bit to try and charge my phone… but it was to no avail. The night was fast approaching and I wanted to make my way to the observatory before dark. So I wasn’t able to track the rest of the route on my GPS (uggghhh) or take pictures (double ughhhhhh). This is why I need a camera that is separate from my phone… or why I need to get a solar charger.

Here is the route that was tracked (45.43 miles) prior to the death of my phone:

Unfortunately for me, by the time that I had made my way to the observatory, it was closed (and it was dark). Womp, womp. I decided that I would make my way back there sometime in the next two weeks so that I could check out North Korea via a pair of binoculars (fun, right?). I cycled towards a subway station, but I had no idea where I was going. I stopped a few times to ask for directions and eventually I was able to find one. I took the subway back to Seoul and met up with the Wonderland gang at the McDonald’s in Seoul Station.

Alex and I decided that we needed to check out one of S. Korea’s famous jimjilbangs, Dragon Hill Spa & Resort (Sinyongsan Station (Subway Line 4) Exit 4). I was absolutely fatigued and thought that a hot massage bath and a jaunt in a sauna would do me some good. Alex took this picture of me before we said goodbye to our American modesty…

We made it back to Cheonan on the last KTX of the night, walked my dog, ate some soup and kimchi at 01:30 in the morning, and finally I crashed– only to be woken at 8am by a giant dog tongue.

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