Friday, July 8, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 6 - Hangang River Trail: Yangsu to Yeoju

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Cycling Korea 2016: Day 6 - Hangang River Trail: Yangsu to Yeoju
Tour of South Korea : Day 6, 9th June 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour along the Hangang River Cycling Trail:
Yangsu>Yangsu Station>Koksu Station>Yangpyeong Art Museum>Yangpyeong Athletic Park>Gaegun Myeon>Ipobo Dam>Yeojubo Dam>Yeoju.
Cycling Distance - 59.77km.     Level: Medium (there were a several steep stretches where the route veered off from the river to avoid cliffs).
Time : 8:30am to 6:00pm.
Total Time Taken : 9hrs 30mins (including breakfast, lunch, stops at parks, dams, bridges, getting directions, certification centres, rests, 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-signalized zebra-crossing, drivers often do not stop for pedestrians to cross.

2. Ride Conditions
    The route was fairly flat except for several steep stretches that veered of the river trail to avoid cliffs. Most stretches along the river trail were not shaded, so do cover up or apply sun block. Some of the slopes were as steep as 10 gradient; on the cycling route map below, click on the top left square, scroll down to the bottom and select satellite view to see where these slopes are.
    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 many tunnels between Yangsu and the art museum. Some of these are called art tunnels because of their nice and bright ceiling.
Yangpyeong Art Museum. (GPS: 37.49706, 127.48396)
- Yangpyeong Athletic Park (GPS: 37.43928, 127.52157).
- Hajapori Baseball Park with it's many cow statues (GPS: 37.43443, 127.53136).
Ipobo Dam (GPS: 37.40481, 127.5422).
Yeojubo Dam (GPS: 37.32996, 127.61105).

4. Certification Stations:
These are certification centres:
- Neunghae.

5. Food
- Breakfast (noodles with some pancakes) at a roadside eatery along the shared trail (GPS: 37.52547, 127.37205).
- Lunch (cold vegetarian noodles in soy soup) were along the trail near Gaegun Myeon (GPS: 37.42972, 127.53233). As one gets further away from Seoul, eateries are harder to come by, unless one gets out from the trail and head into the towns or cities (which could be a distance away).
- Dinner was Italian fare at the Bellevue Restaurant next to our motel in Yeoju.

6. Accommodations
    Our accommodations was at the Motel Seven (GPS: 37.29209, 127.6505) in Yeoju at 43,000KRW per night.
    Address: 62-2 Sang-Ri, Yeoju-Eup, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do 469-804 South Korea.

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.


Yesterday was our debut riding along the Namhangang River Cycling Trail, the "Nam" meaning south, so this is the South Han River Trail. It was a good introduction to Korea's Four River Cycling Trails, as we rode through the beautiful scenery of the riverside - flowery parks, beautiful bridges and majestic dams. Today's trail will be slightly different, taking us to an art museum and a couple of sports park; oh ya.... we got a bit lost again, heh heh...


 Cycling Route - Yangsu>Yangsu Station>Koksu Station>Yangpyeong Art Museum>Yangpyeong Athletic Park>Gaegun Myeon>Ipobo Dam>Yeojubo Dam>Yeoju.
From Yangsu we continued on the Namhangan River Trail to Yeoju. A point to note is that the trail continues at the south-eastern end of the Yangsu Station, we almost missed it. Along the way were several railway tunnels, a few impressive bridges and two mighty dams. We also passed by a couple of parks.

Our days starts off with some dirt track riding; our GPS units is leading us back to the Neunghae Certification Centre. The dirt track did take us pass this interesting lodging, a pension called the Dragon Pension. We popped inside to have a look. It has 3 lovely bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen & a dining room. At the top was a balcony overlooking the river. Too bad it was still under construction, it would have been great to stay here.

With Mr. Park Jisu and his schoolkids who were out on a field trip.
Our GPS had us riding in circles around the old railway bridge at Neunghae... Hah! it took us across the bridge several times. Anne stopped to ask several local cyclists, but they just shook their heads as they could not understand English. Fortunately a school teacher, Mr. Park Jisu, noticed our dilemma. He was on a field trip with his young students and were also cycling to Yeoju. He kindly offered to lead us to the right way, Yahoooooo.... no more riding in lost circles; here was a god-sent angel to guide us.
Park led us to the Yangsu Station, the trail actually continues from the south-eastern end of the station building. We rode with them a while but soon split up as he had to side-track a bit to show his proteges some new things to learn; after all they are on a school trip. Later, we were to meet them again several times, each time we saw them his students' eyes were gleaming with curiosity - he is a good teacher.

The stretch between Yangsu Station and Gyeonggang takes us through several old railway tunnels, now converted into cycling lanes for the convenience of bikers so that they don't have to climb so many hills.... lucky us; Phew!

The old rail tunnels were:
1. The Yongdam Art Tunnel at 441 metres long.
2. The Buyong 4 Tunnel at 240 metres long.
3. The Buyong 3 Tunnel at 284 metres long.
4. The Buyong 2 Tunnel at 192 metres long.
5. The Buyong 1 Tunnel at 116 metres long.
6. The Dogok Tunnel at 176 metres long.
7. The Wonbok Tunnel at 260 metres long.
8. The Kigok Art Tunnel at 569 metres long.
Some of these tunnels are called art tunnels as within them the ceiling are architecturally decorated and lit; making them look better than just being a plain tunnel.

9:45am - Time for some breakfast at a small eatery near the Siwon Station (next to a more up market place with an interesting name of Tube & Horn. Among the dishes we had was this deep-fried bean curd rolls; it's something similar to Lor Bak but infilled with fish and kimchi.

At Kuksu (Guksu) Station, we wrongly took a road tunnel and ended up on the other side of the tracks that took us on some off road climbing up laterite roads. Getting lost does happen on tours in foreign land; as long as one does not go seriously astray, it is okay. Sometimes this accidental detours lead us to discover new things or great views. Here the higher elevation gave us a good view of Guksu surroundings most of which were farmland.

Near Satancheon River; a sinister sounding name but nothing sinister happened except for a bit of sinfulness of us having ice-cream. For some reason, I seemed to be hooked on ice-creams while in South Korea taking them sometimes up to three times a day... sinful yah? My sinfulness sometimes tempted the others too!

12:20pm - We reached the next certification center - the Yangpyeong Art Museum, a techno modern museum with its mirror glass finish reflecting the surroundings. I love art, so for me this was the best certification center. Unfortunately (for me), the museum was closed for preparations of an upcoming event. It was fortunate for the others as I sometimes get caught up in museums and lose track of time!

Nevertheless, within the gardens of the museum were several exhibits for us to admire; like this one, a sliced layered stainless steel sculpture of David in all his nude splendor including sliced gonads!

And time for some monkey business with this one titled "Making My Position"; Anne sure is making her position with this orangutan.

Slightly further on, after a bit of climb, was this monument. It's one dedicated to the decorated veterans of the Korean War; we spent a solemn moment here, some praying while others kept silent, as a mark of respect.

This stretch although slightly sloped, was one of the nicest - shady and decorated with pruned shrubs.

Down the slopes and it was into the Yangpyeong Athletic Park, one that stretches several kilometres with landscaping of trees and pockets of flowery corners. 

Here too were fruit trees and the girls were happily plucking some of the ripe ones.
I questioned "should we or should we not?". Their rationale, if not then it will go to waste; drop and dirty the place too. They do have a point there.

A bit of serous slope climbing (er.... pushing), with many slopes at 7° and some even at 10° gradient. Taxing, especially in this hot afternoon.

On the other side of the hill was another park, one with a cow sitting on top of the toilets. This definitely stirred my curiosity as further in their were even more statues of cows! We then saw a blue cow; Holy cow!

This is the Hajapori Baseball Park, and this blue vested super cow explained a lot - the blue cow is the mascot for the local team. Are they called the Hajapori Cows or perhaps Yangpyeong Bulls; but I could not find such a team in the Korean Baseball Organisation though.

2:30pm - Time for our favourite phrase "Bae Go-pa-yo" (I am hungry!). This far from Seoul, there is not much choice along the trail. We stopped at a small shop run by an Ajuma (Korean auntie) - and only one choice of food; cold noodles. This one was unique though, the soup is a soy bean puree sprinkled with sesame seeds. This was a vegetarian dish as there was no meat or fish; it however had a flat taste so we threw in some kimchi to enhance it.

Other than the beautiful parks and flowery gardens, cycling here was great as there were nice river views of jetties and fishing boats too.

Grease Lightnin' time at the Han River!

3:30pm - At the Ipobo Dam; it's grey spherical making it look like some alien landscape and at the front a bird plane hangs on.

Passed this yard of Korean totem poles; this may look scary but one does not have to be frightened as thy are of deities that will ward off evil spirits.

Suddenly out of the blues, a super wide stretched that sloped down and then slightly upwards. We were wondering why this was so wide; perhaps they are used as emergency landing strips for aeroplanes.

5:00pm - At the Yeojubo Dam, this one with bulging bottom walls and a simple top. The simple column tops are actually lights that make the dam shine with beauty at night.

At mid-span was a lift that went down to a circular island below; alternatively there was also a long ramp that one can ride down.

Here, a mayfly landed on my finger; it looked like a pixie coming to bring me good luck - time to buy some lottery; do they have lotteries sold here?

One Happy Cycling pose at the dam before we exit the trail to head for Yeoju.

A nice peep of Yeoju.
On the way into the town, a nice scent suddenly made Anne stopped, it was a food-truck selling roast chicken. We bought one, and the vendor asked how many of us were sharing. "Five", "Five! One where enough? Take more!" We explained that we would be having other dishes for dinner and the chicken would be a complement. Should have bought more, his chicken was very good.

We managed to find a good hotel after a few tries, this was the Motel Seven with very nice, large rooms and at only 40,000KRW per room.
Dinner was at the Bellevue Italian Restaurant just next door. We had Italian pasta and pizzas for a change.

Buona Notte!
(that's good night in Italian)

This is page 6 of a 15-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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A nice video by Sin of Day 6 of our South Korea tour, riding on the Hangang River Trail from Yangsu to Yeoju.



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