Monday, July 18, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 9 - Nakdonggang River Trail: Nakdongri To Daegu

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Cycling Korea 2016: Day 9 - Nakdonggang River Trail: Nakdongri To Daegu
Tour of South Korea : Day 9, 12th June 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour Nakdongri>Gumibo Dam>Gumi>Chilgokbo Dam>Waegwanri>by train>Daegu.
Train Travel: 27.20 km.
Cycling Distance- 65.93 km.     Level: Easy.
Time : 8:30am to 6:30pm.
Total Time Taken : 10hrs  (including breakfast, lunch, stops at dams, bridges, getting directions, certification centres, rests, waiting for train, train ride, looking for motels & photo opps).

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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.
- Watch out for the delivery motor-bikes. These are huge bikes that go onto pavements and across zebra crossings too. They ride without consideration of pedestrians.

2. Ride Conditions
- Most stretches along the river trail were not shaded, so do cover up or apply sun block.
- The cycling route was fairly flat.
- The weather was cool at 24°C to 27°C day time and dipping down to about 21°C in the evening.

3. 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.

4. Points of Interest
- Gumibo Dam (GPS: 36.23695, 128.34571).
- Chilgokbo Dam (GPS: 36.01566, 128.39771).

5. Certification Stations:
These are certification centres:
- Gumibo Dam.
- Chilgokbo Dam.

6. Food
- Heavy buffet breakfast at a restaurant (GPS: 36.36285, 128.29827) in Nakdongri for 2,200KRW per pax. Lunch was take-away pre-packed burgers from Nakdongri GS-25 outlet.
- Dinner was a mix of street food at the Seomun Night Market in Daegu (GPS: 35.86912, 128.57985).

7. Accommodations
    Accommodations was 2 nights at the Zen Motel (GPS: 35.87446, 128.62748) in Daegu at 40,000KRW per room per night. It is conveniently located near the Dongdaegu Express Bus Terminal and the Dondaegu subway train station.

8. 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.


Yesterday via a bus journey cutting through steep hills from Chungju to Jeomchon, we had switched from the Namhangang River Trail to the Nakdonggang River Trail. Our ride had taken us through a few interesting spots including a bicycle museum. Today we continue on this Nakdong River Trail, let's see how it went.


Ride Route Nakdongri>Gumibo Dam>Gumi>Chilgokbo Dam>Waegwanri>by train>Daegu.
We continue our ride along the Nakdong River Trail and ended in Daegu, enroute we pass by a couple of dams. With this we end our adventure on Korea's Four Rivers Cycling Trail.

Worried about availability of food along the trail, we had a big breakfast at a restaurant in Nakdong. It was breakfast buffet style; and here we are queuing up to scoop rice and then after that get the dishes from trays on a counter next to the rice. This brought back memories of our Malaysian economy rice (Chap Fun) and lining up made us feel young again, like students back in our college days.

We did fill up, and my favourite was this tofu soup - the tofu was great with that good musky aroma but the kicker was the salted fish (large sized anchovies, I believe) that had imparted their good fishy flavour into the soup. The radish had absorbed this and the whole combo just blended well.... so well that I took three bowls of this.... hahah!

Our ride started off with straight level paths that passed through farmlands, green areas, brush lands. It was an easy ride, perhaps to relaxing.

10:20am - At a rest stop at a park which had an interesting name "Grass Story Garden". I am puzzled by the name; perhaps it's direct translation (mis-translation?) from a Korean phrase. Grass don't tell stories do they? Hah! Perhaps they do in Korea!

After the previous days of hard climbing, perhaps the easy ride was too relaxing; with the cool morning air, it soothed us to take a quick snooze here... trying to listen to the grass telling their stories.

Further one, we saw this redness on a farm. At first I thought they were a new breed of red woolly sheep, only closer look they were bundles of harvested onions... hah! This AhPek better go check his beady eyes.
11:10am - At the Gumibo Dam, with it's central structure sticking out conspicuously it looked alien, like one of those spaceships from the Battleship movie. Hmmm... the central one does look like the helmeted alien from Predator.

A short shady respite; most of the way the path was open with hardly any shade. So this green stretch was a welcomed change.

One good thing about the route here was that at several points, it ran on stretches on stilts running over the river's edges; avoiding the hills and stiff climbs.

At one of the stilted stretch we were taking a rest at a shade at the bottom of a gentle slope; suddenly a group of recumbent riders came speeding down a gentle slope almost knocking Jo who was crossing over to her bike. They rudely shouted at her to get out of the way; damn uncivil and inconsiderate of them! I wanted to shout back at them but they had zoomed away too fast; but then thought the better of it: they may be uncivil, but we can be civil. Well they will just have to face some bad karma later on.

12:35; At a bridge leading into Gumi city, Anne posing at a bridge railing baluster with a turtle, the lamp posts too had turtle icons embossed on them. Gumi's pet mascot must be a turtle, but this poor turtle here had a leg missing.

The route took us along the banks of the Nakdong River, below was a park where several teams were doing baseball training. Gumi is an industrial city, so we did no explore it.

Another stop to eat our take-away lunch, and more snoozing here!

Nearby, an Orb Weaver Spider perched sinisterly on its web.

And nearby, ducks roosted at an island within their pond....

... and dead branches formed a surrealistic scene along the river bank.
Dang! Is the route so unexciting that I am attracted to spiders, ducks and dead trees?

2:40pm - The Chilgokbo Dam, with blue crescents decorating its towers.

At another rest, Sin suggested that we skip staying the night in Waegwanr and take the train to Daegu, instead of cycling to Daegu the next day. we all could not agree more with him, the route was becoming dreary, monotonous in fact. Skipping the night here would also mean that we would have a full day to explore Daegu the next day.
So up we went onto the Mugunghwa Train and headed to Daegu (Standing ticket at 2,200 Wons).

At the Daegu Railway Station, we popped into the Tourism Information booth. These information booths are good place to update oneself of the locality as they provide local map, brochures for points of interests, AND also most of the guides there speaks good English.
Yeah! Thumb up for this!

Armed with the tourist info, we cycling away heading to the Dongdaegu Express Bus Terminal to hunt for accommodations. We wanted to stay near the terminal as a few days later we would be taking a bus to head for Gyeongju.

After several attempts and negotiations, we ended up with Zen Motel. We like the place as it was on a quiet street and yet near the bus & train terminals, AND the name made it seem that I own the hotel (haha... fat hopes). The rooms were large and there was even a Jacuzzi bath!

Well rested we took the subway from Dongdaegu to Seomun using Daegu Metro red line then changing over to the yellow line at Myeongdok 2 (fare was 1,200KRW per pax each way).
We were there to visit the Seomun Night Market, a relatively new place just opened on 3rd June 2016.
The place was packed full of activity, full of stalls and full of visitors. But I was a bit disappointed; I had expected a place of traditional push cart stalls selling traditional Korean food and goods. Instead, the stalls were spanking new of modern design and most food sold were new style fusion food from stall neatly lined below uniform signages. It was just to neatly laid out.
Anyway no point frumping about it, let's just enjoy ourselves.

That's our dinner, an assortment of food and drinks we got from different stalls. There were a fair bit of food stalls and further down were stalls selling clothes and other wares; this sort of reminded us of our pasar malam back home but I would go further to say that ours back home were more varied and interesting.

Chasing the dragon? No, this is a cup of rice ball dessert with freezing carbon dioxide sprayed in making it a colourful and somewhat out of the world experience.

On our journey back, we met these group of local workers with large rolls of cables. At the station they had taken the lifts and then rolled the cables into the train; rather innovative way to beat the traffic.

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

This is page 9 of a 15-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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A video by Sin of Day 9 of our South Korea tour, riding on the Nakdong River Trail from Nakdongri to Daegu. It's our last day on Korea's Four River Cycling Trail.




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