Cycling from Seoul to Busan ( 4 rivers cycling pathway)

Sept 5.  2017
I packed my tiny bicycle and flew to Korea. 

Needed to discard more stuff for the trip.  Excess baggage is bad.

Needed to discard more stuff for the trip.  Excess baggage is bad.

This was a rather spontaneous trip and a much needed one for me to clear some matters off my head.  Besides, I enjoy being out and about, getting lost and figuring my ways around. It’s something I always wished I could do in college but was never financially capable. Given my present good health, a bit of saving and plenty of down-time from work, I thought it was high-time I complete these to-dos.

Brompton all packed and ready 

Brompton all packed and ready 

Flight to Seoul. Quite a pleasant flight.

Flight to Seoul. Quite a pleasant flight.

Not really a sketching trip:
Since I wanted to pack as little as possible, I only managed to bring a tiny sketchbook and broke a few decent brushes to fit them into a small hard-case.  To shrink everything down, I brought 2 tiny plastic cups and used them as water containers. With two set of cycling attires, some washing detergent, I am off to Korea’s 4 rivers cycle path way.  My goal is to reach Busan from Incheon via her dedicated 600+km cycling path. I had about 7 days to do so and did not plan much. Fortunately, I found someone’s itinerary on google map and it was super nifty. Thanks John Graham
 

Map I found online that got me through the entire trip.

Map I found online that got me through the entire trip.

Day 1:
I woke up around 8/9 am and took the airport train to Cheongna In’t City Station. Inflated my tires and proceeded to the starting point at Ara West Sea Lock. I also bought a mini passport to collect all the stamps along the way.

Journey of a 1000 miles began with one step. Starting point at Ara Lock 

Journey of a 1000 miles began with one step. Starting point at Ara Lock 

Today, I rode more than 60km to Seoul and stayed overnight in a motel near Gil-Dong. It rained a little but thankfully not too heavy and I managed to arrive safely.  Daily routine of washing clothes began...

Rained a little but I got to Gil Dong.

Rained a little but I got to Gil Dong.

Day 2:
Rode about 100 Km today towards Yeoju and passed by the city of Hanam to arrive at Sun Valley Hotel in Yeoju. It’s a water theme-park hotel and costed a little more but I thought there would be a nice view for me to do some sketching. Passed by numerous tunnels built specially for cycling today; It was spectacular.

Check into Sun Valley hotel with a super nice view of the river and did a sketch 

Check into Sun Valley hotel with a super nice view of the river and did a sketch 

Day 3:
Woke up super early today at 6 to start my ride at 7.  It was a little foggy and I met Gaith from Canada and Mangi from Korea during today’s ride. We rode about 100km to Suan Bo. At first, I was feeling ambitious and wanted to try for 150 km.  Mangi laughed and didn't think I can make the distance. I forgotten that I will be facing some serious elevation pass Suan Bo until Gaith busted out his maps and discussed about the journey ahead. We reached Suanbo and I checked into a hot spring hotel.  Suan Bo was a quiet town with a bunch of restaurants and hot spring motels.

Met Gaith and Mangi along the way. Mangi was super nice and paced down to accompany me all the way to Suan Bo. I felt bad slowing him down.

Met Gaith and Mangi along the way. Mangi was super nice and paced down to accompany me all the way to Suan Bo. I felt bad slowing him down.

Checked into Suan Bo

Checked into Suan Bo

Day 4:
Woke up at 6 and started my ride a bit before 7. It was super foggy and the climb started right after away. There were a few teaser climbs before the eventual climb…500 metres over a stretch of 5km. The down ride was superrrrrr fun.

Climbing is always a struggle and more so if you are fixated with the thought of pain.

Climbing is always a struggle and more so if you are fixated with the thought of pain.

I reached the peak eventually :) It was gorgeous. 

I reached the peak eventually :) It was gorgeous. 

I eventually made it to the top.  It was a really pleasant feeling and I wanted to hang out there for a little more but have some serious distance to go .

I eventually made it to the top.  It was a really pleasant feeling and I wanted to hang out there for a little more but have some serious distance to go .

It took me a while and I struggled a little with my tiny bike. Since I don’t know where I am going and how far it will take, I throttle ahead.Eventually I reached the peak.

This stretch from Suan-Bo toward Mueng Yong is the most beautiful . It also happen to be the most strenuous. I don't know if they planned it that way. 

This stretch from Suan-Bo toward Mueng Yong is the most beautiful . It also happen to be the most strenuous. I don't know if they planned it that way. 

100 km later, I reached Nakdong-Ro at about 5pm and check into a small love motel. Those funky lights they had in these love motels were awful. Accidentally, I flipped them on a few times and thought I entered a haunted house. It was funny.

Day 5:
Mega foggy day. Though I intended to ride down to Hyeongpung-Myeon, I realized from the weather forecast that I may be cycling into a thunderstorm. The forecast indicated 95% rain. Decided to jettison today’s destination and cycled into Daegu. Checked into a nice hotel and will take the KTX (bullet train) to Busan tomorrow. That way, I can spend an entire day in Busan. One free day in Seoul too.

Checked into a hotel in Daegu and got upgraded to a suite.  Super good sleep

Checked into a hotel in Daegu and got upgraded to a suite.  Super good sleep

Best sleep through the journey. No funky lights in this hotel :P 

Best sleep through the journey. No funky lights in this hotel :P 

Day 6:
It poured in Daegue and the forecast was right. It rained all through Busan. Managed to jump onto the subway, then KTX and kept myself mostly dried.

Haedong Yonggunsa is so sublime. I paid my respect to the Buddha here and thank everything for the safe journey. I got lucky and saw the storm from the distance. 

Haedong Yonggunsa is so sublime. I paid my respect to the Buddha here and thank everything for the safe journey. I got lucky and saw the storm from the distance. 

When the rain stopped in Busan, I hopped onto the subway and cycled to Haedong Yonggunsa, a 14th century seaside Buddhist temple. It was magnificent and I speed sketch a little of the coast.  Fukuoka (Japan), from what I remembered is just about a boat ride from Busan.

A quick sketch in The Perfect Sketchbook pocket

A quick sketch in The Perfect Sketchbook pocket

 

Spend the night feasting sashimi at Jagalchi Market. Kind of crazy to be chewing down moving octopus.

Checked out Gamcheon Cultural Village before I set off to Seoul . I envy artists from abroad having spaces to work their craft. I read that there are lot of artists who lived out here. 

Checked out Gamcheon Cultural Village before I set off to Seoul . I envy artists from abroad having spaces to work their craft. I read that there are lot of artists who lived out here. 

 

Day 7:
Took the KTX back to Seoul. Cycle a little through the city to stayed near Hongdae. Lots of hills in Seoul but it was quite fun to cycle through the back alleys and narrow streets. Eventually, I reached my hotel room and explored the nearby universities and fashion streets.

Finally got to sketch Seoul a little. 

Finally got to sketch Seoul a little. 

Day 8:
Time to ride back to Incheon from Seoul. Today I got more time to sketch along the way and did a few tiny sketches before eventually resting in a hotel at Incheon. My cycling trip is finally over.

Finally some time along the cycling path. 

Finally some time along the cycling path. 

Farewell Seoul :) 

Farewell Seoul :)