Monday, June 27, 2016

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

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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).

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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
    Full-sized bicycles are allowed onto the first and last coach of Korean trains on weekends or public holidays. Folding bikes are allowed onto the trains at any time.
   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.

5. 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).

6. 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

7. 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 15-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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