Uploading and sorting through pictures is really not such a fun way to spend one’s time… haha. That being said, I guess I did take a good number of pictures and I would like to share many of them with you all (but perhaps more just to satisfy my own record-keeping self).
The trip took approximately 4.5 days and was roughly 328 miles (527km). I think the best way to blog about the experience would be to write about each day separately.
After leaving my dear darling Sigma under the care of a fellow Cheonanite (thanks Anna!), I spent Friday night near Seoul’s Hapjeong Station couch surfing with the friend of a friend (and thank you Heather!). Before hitting the sheets, she helped me figure out which subways to take to get over to the Banpo Bridge (my starting point) from her place, which was very helpful as I am a shitty navigator. I know, a poor navigator trying to bike across an entire country!? Craziness… And you’re right, it was…
I left Hapjeong around 7am Saturday morning and took the subway to Central City Bus Terminal (two blocks from my starting location). Some of you might be interested to know that the Banpo Bridge is located in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood. [insert catchy k-pop song here]
While I love Seoul’s network of subways and train terminals, it is quite another thing to haul your bike up and down flights and flights and flights of subway steps and I was relieved when I finally came to an escalator… (I think onlookers were relieved for me, haha)
After arriving at the Central City Bus Terminal, I made my way down to the Han River bike path which ran underneath the Banpo Bridge and went into cycling auto-drive. The weather was fabulous– a bit nippy, but perfect for a day on the saddle. Look at that skyline!
Biking along the Han is simple and scenic. It is relatively flat and doesn’t require any navigation skills (lucky me!); you just follow it down as far as you would like. Every so often there is a GS25, CU Mart, or a roadside bike-parts stall for all of your canned coffee confections, dried squid, and discount biking needs! I was able to make pretty good time on this section of my journey, even while avoiding fashionable joggers and youths on neon fixies.
Yellow, the plastic whale and eponymous puppet of this here blog, decided to make an appearance:
Roughly 60km into the trip, I had come to the outskirts of Yangpyeong. Many cyclists were out, enjoying the holiday and the rare bit of sunshine after the last few weeks’ rain and wind (hello typhoons!). I still had 30km or so left for the day, so after enjoying a hot coffee, I hurried on, wanting to make the most of the afternoon.
Although, I did contemplate stopping and checking out this art gallery:
Heading towards Yeoju, which was supposed to my destination for the day, I met some cyclists from Seoul. The guys spoke wonderful English and we chatted for a few kilometers about living abroad and the American education system.
As we were all getting hungry and were rapidly approaching Yeoju, one of the men, Kay, invited me to eat a late lunch with them and I readily agreed. Because I am a vegetarian, I couldn’t take part in the barbecue portion of the meal, but I did attack the kimchi and pumpkin! Kay also ordered a spicy kimchi and tofu soup with egg for me. Oh, yeah… and a late afternoon beer. ; )
I was feeling pretty good after all that food (and holiday songpyeon!) and as it was only a little after 5:00, I decided that I would bike the 24km to Boran, the next city on my route. I mean, it was only 24km– how bad could it be?!
The pre-sunset views along the bike path were incredible. On my way out of Yeoju, I ran into three western bikers that I had met previously in the day and we decided to bike into Boran together. Unfortunately for us, my cell phone battery died (i.e. my GPS) and we ended up getting a bit turned around on our way there which meant that we had to bike in the dark. After one of the guys made a phone call to a friend, we figured out how to get to Boran (turn right, go up a steep hill, cross a bridge, go up another incline, etc., etc., etc., …) and we eventually made our way to this somewhat elusive (and incredibly small) town.
We made arrangements to stay in the town’s only motel. As it was cheaper for all of us to share a room, we opted for that (₩30,000 for 1 person vs. ₩50,000 for 4 people). Korean slumber party with a faulty toilet! Yay!
We grabbed dinner (duck barbecue for them, veggie pajeon for me) and a few beers and tried to unwind before the next leg of the trip.
Day 1 Stats:
Distance: 79.09 miles (Seoul to Boran)
Money Spent: ₩8,500 (protein bar + 2 coffees + soy milk), ₩12,000 (shared motel room) + ₩5,000 (beers (lunch and dinner were free)= ₩25,500
Times Lost: 1