Monday, June 27, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 3 - Seoul Out to Nami... Maybe?

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Korea 2016: Day 3 - Seoul Out to Nami... Maybe?
Tour of South Korea : Day 3, 6th June 2016
Train Ride Distance - 125.62km total; Train Ride Time: going by express train 50 mins., back by subway 90 mins.
Cycling Distance - 9.26km.     Level: Easy because we hardly cycled!
Time : 8:45am to 8:30pm.
Total Time Taken :  11hrs 45mins (including visit to Nami Island, lunch, dinner & train rides).

This is page 3 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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Route Recommendations :
1. Right is Right!
    Korea traffic is left-hand drive. For those coming from right-hand drive countries always do remember to ride on the right-hand side... i.e. Right is right! Same thing applies when crossing the rode, take note that traffic is approaching from left! Sounds confusing, it actually isn't, just take while to get use to it.
    Do be careful at un-signalised zebra-crossing, drivers often do not stop for pedestrians to cross.

2. Bringing Bikes Onto Korean Trains
    Bikes, foldies or full-sized ones, are allowed onto the first and last coach of Korean trains on weekends or public holidays. On weekdays, we managed to get our compact Bromptons (fully folded) onto the trains without being stopped by security.
Today's journey was more on trains, we did just some cycling and some walking at the folk village. The cycle route was really a short distance, to & fro the hotel to Jongno 3 Station, and Gapyeong Station to Nami Island. We had brought our bikes along hoping that we could cycle in Nami Island. Unfortunately they do not allow outside bikes to be brought over to the island as they have their own bike rentals.
    The weather was cool at 24°C to 27°C day time and dipping down to about 21°C in the evening.

3. Points of Interest
Nami Island (GPS: 37.79618, 127.52533)
- Petite France (GPS: 37.71463, 127.49094) (We decided to skip this as it was somewhat similar to Colmar Tropicale in Bukit Tinggi, Malaysia.

4. Certification Stations:
These are certification centres:
- None.

4. Food
Lunch was a somewhat okay dakgalbi at Gapyeong together with cold noodles.
Dinner was street food just behind our hotel, which consisted of cuts of vegetables and seafood deep-fried in egg batter (something like tempura).

5. Accommodations
    Our accommodations in Seoul was at the Seoul 53 Hotel Insadung (GPS: 37.57502, 126.98956), conveniently located at the old part of the city near to the city's many points of interest. Cost per night per room was 49,000KRW and came with a breakfast pack of sandwiches and gimbab rolls. All rooms have Wifi, but the signal was poor for those rooms on the upper floors.
    The owner Mr. Park and his son Sean, speaks very good English and were most helpful. He had just taken over the hotel for a week and had done a good job getting very comfortable.
    The following are their contacts:
    Address: 53 Iksun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
    Tel: +82-2-763-3833     Fax: +82-2-7633832
    Email address: 53hotelseoul@gmail.com

6. Phone Sim Cards
For staying in touch with each other, it will be good to get local sim-cards. At the Incheon International Airport pre-paid sim card can be surprisingly obtained from a convenience store at the first floor for 29,000 KRW with a 1 gig data, 100 minutes of call time. A lady working for the phone company waits outside at the benches to help set up and activate the line, and presto! within minutes it's done.
    Or one can pre-order online through mobile providers such as Evergreen EGsim and collect at their outlet at the airport. They have several plans to select from.


PRELUDE

At the Korean Folk Village in Yongin.
The previous day had been an interesting one of getting out of Seoul and heading for a folk village and also a fort. It had shown us life outside of the city with glimpses of the country's past.
Today we head out of the city again, to an island popular with the locals for recreation. 



THE RIDE


Ride Route Seoul 53 Hotel>Jongno 3 Station>by subway>Yongsan Station>by ITX Express Train>Gapyeong Station>Nami Island Jetty>Gapyeong Station>by subway>Ttukseom Resort Station>by subway>Seobinggo Station>by subway>Jongno 3 Station>Seoul 53 Hotel.
It's another day of train rides again as we took several trains, including the ITX high-speed express train to head for Gapyeong; and then it's a ferry ride over to the island. We hardly cycled (only 9.26 km.); but it was not because we were not eager to. We had brought our bicycles along, hoping to be able to cycle at Nami Island, but were most disappointed when we were told that no bicycles were allowed to be taken onto the island as they have bicycle rentals there... Dang! It's just commercial protectionism!

After the hotel's breakfast of sandwiches and gimbabs, we started off, riding along the side lanes and back alleys to head for the Jongno 3 Subway Station.


The thing is that station does not have elevators or even escalators, so here we are doing what most Koreans bikers do, pushing our bikes down the steel chute ramps down the stairs... er... it was more like braking our way down! Fortunately, Park of Seoul 53 Hotel had advised us to use the further away entry so we had to push down only one level instead of two.


Today is a public holiday, i.e. Korea's Memorial Day and bikes are allowed into the trains and we took advantage of this as just rolled our bikes into the coach without folding... Yeah!


We took the subway to Yongsan Station, a major node station, from which we will take the ITX high speed express train to Gapyeong.
Fortunately this station have lifts, but small ones - photo above of a convex mirror shows how tight a squeeze it was to fit all give of us in.


In the subway train, hawking seems to be allowed. This man was selling some elastic waist-pouch that can stretch a fair bit to keep one's passports, handphones, etc. Our fare for the subway was 1,300 KRW as it was a single section ride.


In contrast, as we had not booked the tickets for the ITX we could only purchase the "Standing Ticket" for the train, fare was 2,300 KRW per pax.
Eventhough it was "standing", most would just sit on the floor (some bringing mats along), have a picnic, OR like these girls play some games, I do note that the picnickers and the girls spoke is soft voices so as not to disturb others.


Here we are, at Gapyeong Station, full of exuberance and ready to start our cycling adventure to Nami Island.


On the busy roads, we rode on the pavements, sometimes passing by small plots of farming.


It was close to noon, so might as well stop for lunch as food on the island could be expenxive... it being a favourite tourist destination. Ok... this is my first taste of dakgalbi. Normally the ingredients are put onto a large flat pan and the waiters would stir it a bit each time the pass by. But today, the place seems awfully busy... or perhaps this place did not give good service... and we had to do the frying ourselves. Here's Anne doing her bit as a dakgalbi chef, stirring with a wooden handled fryer; I did hope she knows what she is doing.


Yah! Anne did know her cooking... see the pan... it's almost empty... and Anne was still reluctant to let go of the fryer!


Here's Anne & Fenn at the entry to the immigration of Nami Island... it's actually the entry to the ferry terminal.
The rest of us decided not to go over for our own reasons. Me? I was most disappointed that they do not allow visitors to bring in their own bikes, i.e. despite Korea being a cycling haven. One can rent a bike on the island at 5,000 KRW per hour; I felt that this, coupled with the entry fee of 10,000 KRW, was a bit extreme in commercialisation. Despite our plea to a friendly hostess that our bikes can fold very compactly, the answer was a vehement "No, way!"
Well... as a sign of protest in my own way... I will just give this place a miss!


Somewhere in this whale looking ferry is Anne & Fenn on their way over to the island.... Bon Voyage!


Here's another view of with the island in the background; looks like we did not miss much... "sour grapes... heh heh!"


While they were over there, I tried cycling on the mainland. There's a boardwalk just after the ferry terminal, but it was lasted only 200 metres after which the road climb steeply with sharp bends. It was a narrow road without any cycling lanes or emergency lanes, so I decided to call it quits and return to the some sitting area where Jo & Sin were. We lolled around, took ice-creams (not so creamy ones). It started to drizzle, so we quickly got our bikes (including Anne's & Fenn's) to a shady area. The drizzle fizzled out just after a while.


After an hour or so, our island-faring friend came back and we took a short ride back to Gapyeong Station. We decided to take the slower subway train back to Seoul, which was a good decision as then we got to meet some Korean cyclists. At each station we passed, more and more cyclists boarded with their bikes and soon there was hardly any room and some of the cyclists had to tilt their bikes are like this fellow. By the way, he told me this was not as packed as the train would be on weekends; then even their bikes went up the overhead racks... I just wondered how they did that. In the meantime, the other passengers just sat quietly without blinking their eyes like this is just the norm.


A picture here to show the advantage of our Bromptons; we just rolled them down the escalators while the other poor cyclists had to carry their bikes down the stairs.


Back in Seoul; this was part of our dinner - seafood & veggies deep fried in egg batter. Taste wise it was okay only, not one of our best meals in Korea.

Annyeonghi Jumuseyo!
(that's Good Night in Korean)


This is page 3 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
 < Go to Previous Day          |         Go to Other Days          |              Go to Next Day >


  
A nice video by Sin of our Day 2 to Day 4 ride in Seoul. 


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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Korea 2016 / Day 3 - Seoul Out to Nami... Maybe?     |     Go To D1 / D2 / D4 / D5 / D6 / D7 / D8 / D9 / D10 / D11 / D12 / D13 / D14 / D15 / D16
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 2 - Seoul Out to Yongin Folk Village & Hwasweong Fortress

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Korea 2016 / Day 2 - Seoul Out to Yongin Folk Village & Hwaseong Fortress     |     Go To D1D3 / D4 / D5 / D6 / D7 / D8 / D9 / D10 / D11 / D12 / D13 / D14 / D15 / D16
                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Korea 2016: Day 2 - Seoul Out to Yongin Korean Folk Village & Hwaseong Fortress
Tour of South Korea : Day 2, 5th June 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour Seoul 53 Hotel>Anguk Station>by train>Sanggal Station>Mapo Restaurant>Yongin Korean Folk Village>Hwaseong Fortress>Paldal Buddhist Temple>Suwon Station>by train>Anguk Station>Seoul 53 Hotel.
Cycling Distance - 18.70km.     Level: Medium (stretch from folk village to Suwon was diffiuclt as mostly on rough pavement riding and there were a couple of steep slopes)
Time : 8:45am to 12:15am (the following day).
Time Taken :  15hrs 30mins (including train rides, lunch, walk around the folk village, visits to Hwaseong Fortress & Paldal Buddhist Temple, stops for regroup, rests and photo opps).

This is page 2 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
 < Go to Previous Day          |         Go to Other Days          |              Go to Next Day >


Route Recommendations :
1. Right is Right!
    Korea traffic is left-hand drive. For those coming from right-hand drive countries always do remember to ride on the right-hand side... i.e. Right is right! Same thing applies when crossing the rode, take note that traffic is approaching from left! Sounds confusing, it actually isn't, just take while to get use to it.
    Do be careful at un-signalised zebra-crossing, drivers often do not stop for pedestrians to cross.

2. Bringing Bikes Onto Korean Trains
    Bikes, foldies or full-sized ones, are allowed onto the first and last coach of Korean trains on weekends or public holidays. On weekdays, we managed to get our compact Bromptons (fully folded) onto the trains without being stopped by security.
Today's journey was more on trains, we did just some cycling and some walking at the folk village. The cycle route from the folk village to the fortress although only 12.5km was not easy as most of the time we had to ride on the pavements which was not that smooth and also had to avoid pedestrians; the was a couple of major climbs at this stretch.
    The weather was cool at 24°C to 27°C day time and dipping down to about 21°C in the evening.

3. Points of Interest
- The Yongin Korean Folk Village, an emulated folk village which runs close to how villages were like centuries back, entry ticket 15,000KRW per adult. (GPS: 37.25993, 127.1208).
- The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, we did not have time to explore the fortress, but even at the entrance it did look impressive (GPS: 37.27762, 127.01416).
- the Paldal Buddhist Temple in Suwon. This is the one outside the fortress entrance in Suwon town (GPS: 37.27643, 127.01541).
Fortress Gate (수원화성팔달문) at the main roundabout in Suwon town (GPS: 37.277514, 127.016723).
- Suwon's Red-light street (DeogYeong Boulevard 895th Street/DeogYeong-daero 895beon-gil; near the Suwon Station), something similar to Amsterdam's where ladies display themselves in shop windows.

4. Certification Stations:
These are certification centres for the Korean Heritage Pamphlet:
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (37.277620, 127.014166).

4. Food
Lunch was a very delicious stewed pork trotters at the Mapo Restaurant in Sanggal (address: 8 Minsokchon-ro Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Kores; GPS: 37.25498, 127.10578), oddly this was operated by a Chinese. We skipped dinner due to lack of time (see blog for details).

5. Accommodations
    Our accommodations in Seoul was at the Seoul 53 Hotel Insadung (GPS: 37.57502, 126.98956), conveniently located at the old part of the city near to the city's many points of interest. Cost per night per room was 49,000KRW and came with a breakfast pack of sandwiches and gimbab rolls. All rooms have Wifi, but the signal was poor for those rooms on the upper floors.
    The owner Mr. Park and his son Sean, speaks very good English and were most helpful. He had just taken over the hotel for a week and had done a good job getting very comfortable.
    The following are their contacts:
    Address: 53 Iksun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
    Tel: +82-2-763-3833     Fax: +82-2-7633832
    Email address: 53hotelseoul@gmail.com

6. Phone Sim Cards
For staying in touch with each other, it will be good to get local sim-cards. At the Incheon International Airport pre-paid sim card can be surprisingly obtained from a convenience store at the first floor for 29,000 KRW with a 1 gig data, 100 minutes of call time. A lady working for the phone company waits outside at the benches to help set up and activate the line, and presto! within minutes it's done.
    Or one can pre-order online through mobile providers such as Evergreen EGsim and collect at their outlet at the airport. They have several plans to select from.


PRELUDE

At the Ara Waterway start point, the start for many of the 4-Rivers Cycling Trails.
Our first day in South Korea was a great one of riding along the Ara Waterway, it was a beautiful place to ride, easy as it was fairly flat. With that we looked ahead to greater cycling days ahead.
But for today there will be less cycling as we head out by trains to the south to visit a couple of tourist destinations, but we will still be taking our bicycles along. There was a hitch though, a sort of comedy of errors; read on to see what happened!



THE RIDE


Ride Route Seoul 53 Hotel>Anguk Station>by train>Sanggal Station>Mapo Restaurant>Yongin Korean Folk Village>Hwaseong Fortress>Paldal Buddhist Temple>Suwon Station>by train>Anguk Station>Seoul 53 Hotel.
It was a day of train rides, from one station to the next to change to different lines. We started off by making a mistake and ended up north-east instead of to the south. From the Anguk Station we were suppose to head for the Dogok Station to change to the Bundang Line. We misread and ended up north at the Daegok Station, wasting a couple of hours of precious time!


We started the day with a sort of mock ceremony; payment of debts. One of us will settle all major bills for the day, i.e. train fare, food, entrance fee. At the end of the day or the beginning of the following day, we pay back our portion to the "banker".
Here Anne is play acting a mock-up ceremony of payment of protection money to the local triad chief, Sin. Bow Anne.... bow lower!


We rode out to the Anguk Station, our route took us pass a stately building which we later found out is the Unhyeonghung, a historic complex with homes for royal & political leaders, now holding events, tours & weddings.


New to the Korean subway system, we had difficulty getting our bikes through the turnstile. Fen after letting her bike through, found the turnstile locked and had to crawl through. We later found out that there is a larger swing gate at all stations for people with large luggage (like bikes... heh.. heh). Some stations also have a separate wider entry for disabled, one without turnstile but with slide-in wing gates.
Today also was a comedy of errors; first error was that we paid the wrong fare of 1,300KRW for a single section travel. Seoul subway system have three main lines (Line 1 to Line 3); if one travel a route that cover two lines it's called a two section route, for which the fare is 1.500KRW. But the vending machine calls it a "2-section travel", they should just call it a "2-line travel" and clear the confusion. When we tried to exit, a buzzer sounded and the turnstile would not move. Unclear of what had happened, we just exited through the manual gate. No, we were not trying to cheat the system, we were innocently unclear.


The 2nd of the comedy error, as explained above, was to head in the wrong direction and wasting some time. Looking at the brighter side, we got to enjoy the Korean trains more, and also got to know some locals; like this man with me. He is Mr. Kim, who had worked in Malaysia before and speak English quite well and also know a smattering of Bahasa Malaysia. He is in is late sixties, yet still look healthfully spritely and was on his way to the countryside to do some hill hiking.


We exited at the Sanggal Station which is the station nearest to the Yongin Korean Folk Village, just slightly more than two kilometres away. Many tourist make the mistake of getting off at the Suwon Station, which is about 12 km. away, and end up having to take a bus to the village.
Our train run around had really wasted our time, it was not 1:00pm.... lunch time! Time to go food hunting. We were lucky, and found Mapo Restaurant which served one of the best food of our tour - stewed pork trotters!


And.... here's the delicious looking pork trotters which was very tasty and surprisingly tender & juicy. I loved it!
Of course, like most Korean meals, it was served with Kimchi and one eats it with white rice or noodles. And the pricing was fantastically reasonable - at only 36,000KRW for the whole meal!


THE YONGIN KOREAN FOLK VILLAGE


Stepping into the folk village was a step into the past; it was a place of un-paved roads leading to ancient looking houses, pavilions, etc. We were greeted by a lady dressed in a colourful traditional Hanbok, complete with a silky hat... er... she wasn't actually greeting us; she was one of the staff who took part in the several shows that the village put up. She looked so pretty that I just had to go greet her "Annyeong-haseyo! Can I have a photo taken with you?" Sure! and she posed with me with a cheeky wink! Yahoooooo!


Here's a map of the Korean Folk Village for a better perspective understanding of the place. There are several sections and at one side a stream flows through.
Entry ticket to this Korean Folk Village is 15,000 KRW per adult.


We crossed the stream and it was picturesque, with flowers on the bridge and serene reflections on it's surface.


Malay bullock cart for official ceremonies.
On the other side of the stream was a small section that is a museum of tribal natives of the world. There are several halls, each for a particular area country/area of the world. There was even one for the tribes of Malaysia.


The sandy roads lead to thatched roof wooden houses; these are the houses of the commoners.


There are also brick building for the elite, officials. This one is a stable where horses are presently kept, these horses are used for one of the daily shows where riders shoot arrows onto targets. In the foreground is a vegetable patch.


There are also some small pavilions where visitors can take a rest or even have a small picnic.


Nearby is the tree with a significance; a Seonang-dang, a pile of stones or tree where people stack tree stones on it as they pass by and make a wish. The cloth on the tree is the five-colour fabric to ward of misfortune.


Other than the houses, there are also tradesmen's huts, each a craftsmen excelling in his respective skill. This here is a are pots in front of the potter's hut. Do are see the boy on the right squatting for a crap? Visitors can have hand's on experience making pots, vases guided by the tradesman, for a small fee.


Some hands-on participation are free, like this one of turning a large mill stone. The old crafts must be pretty good, even this small boy could turn the mill stone without too much effort.


Fenn & Anne having fun at the mask maker's hut. 


Here's us taking a rest at the blacksmith's hut. with fire wood stacked under the floor boards.


Other than the trade huts, the village also put on regular shows of old practices. We missed the traditional wedding, so I can only show you a poster.


Staff dress up in traditional wear for the various plays and show, this man acting inquisitively about a modern camera...


... and this lady calmly playing a Gayageum to entertain the lord's tea time or perhaps it's Soju time!


And there's even the village beggar hobbling around and actually asking for money!


We took a short walk down the riverside; at a spot is this fisherman's raft, complete with a small hut for a long fishing trip.


6:15pm - We left the village and headed for Suwon. It's only a 12 km. ride but it would take us more than an hour to reach as most of the time we had to cycle slowly on the pavement, along the uneven paver stones. No wonder we often saw some local cyclists risking it riding on the road.


7:30pm - We arrived at the Hwaseong Fortress. The information centre by then had closed (they close at seven) and we missed our chance to have our Heritage Pamphlet stamped.
It was getting dark and the steep steps up was discouraging, so we just climbed some distance up and took some photos.


Luckily there was the nearby Paldal Buddhist Temple for us to admire, even at night it was worthwhile visiting.


An asymmetrical roof eave of the temple.


Up at the main temple platform were rows of colourful lanterns, as usual the girls' colours blended in very well.


Also nearby, a traffic round-a-bout with a garrison wall and watch tower.
We left and rode to the Suwon Station for our trip back to Seoul; but the town still had one last thing to show us - it's red light street (at DeogYeong Boulevard 895th Street) where call girls display themselves at shop window and some at leaning sexily on their doors, sultrily beckoning customers to come sample their wares. I dared not take any photos for fear of repercussions from the local triads, but click here for a video of the street


As it was a long train ride back to Seoul with a couple of station changes, we decided to skip dinner. It was a right call, as by the time we left the Anguk Station it was passed midnight and the guard was impatiently waiting for us so that he could lock up the place. Phew!


Alamak!
(that's Oh Dear! in Malay)


This is page 2 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
 < Go to Previous Day          |         Go to Other Days          |              Go to Next Day >


 
A nice video by Sin of our Day 2 to Day 4 ride in Seoul. 


_________________________________________________________________________________

RELATED BLOGS:




_________________________________________________________________________

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Sydney 2013 : Day 1
Enjoying fresh seafood at the Fish Market and then a evening stroll at the Rocks & Circular Quay.




You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Korea 2016 / Day 2 - Seoul Out to Yongin Folk Village & Hwaseong Fortress      |     Go To D1 / D3 / D4 / D5 / D6 / D7 / D8 / D9 / D10 / D11 / D12 / D13 / D14 / D15 / D16
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(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)