Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 13 - Onwards To Busan & Gamcheon Culture Village

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Cycling Korea 2016: Day 13 - Onwards To Busan & Gamcheon Culture Village
Tour of South Korea : Day 13, 16th June 2016
Distance - 12.27km.     Level: Hard (because of the sleep slopes going up to Gamcheon).
Time : 8:50am to 8:45pm.     |     Time Taken : 11hrs 55mins (including intercity bus ride, train ride, lunch, dinner visits to Gamcheon Culture Village, & markets of Busan, orienteering directions & photo opps).

This is page 13 of a 15-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. Ride Conditions
- The cycling distance was short, but nearing Gamcheon, the route got very steep.
- 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 & Buses
    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.
    For intercity buses, our bike were put into the luggage hold. There was no necessity to bag them. Local buses do not allow bikes onto them.
    The Intercity Kumho bus fare from Gyeongju to Busan Central Bus Terminal (GPS: 35.28474, 129.09538) was 4,800KRW. And the Busan Metro Line 1 train fare from the Busan Central Bus Terminal (Nopo Station) to Busan Station was 1,500KRW.

4. Points of Interest
Gamcheon Culture Village (GPS for Gamcheon Information Office: 35.09745, 129.01059).
40-Steps Culture & Tourism Street (GPS: 35.10594, 129.03512).
- Markets at Junggu Precint (GPS: 35.10217, 129.02791).
Busan Chinatown (GPS: 35.11347, 129.03861).
- Neon fountain at Busan Station (GPS: 35.11516, 129.04027)

5. Food
- Lunch was Bulgogi Burgers with Bingsu ice-desserts at a Lotteria outlet at Busan Central Bus Terminal.
- Dinner was pork barbecue, bibimbap & noodles at Donenu Restaurant (GPS: 35.11729, 129.03904)

6. Accommodations
    Accommodations was 3 nights at the Dong Yang Motel (GPS: 35.11336, 129.04061) at 35,000KRW per night. It's conveniently located near the Busan Train Station.

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.


Bird's eye view of Yangdon.
We had had a good time in Gyeongju, enjoying the charms of this historical city, which with its many old place makes the whole place a living museum. The day before we had made a short tour out to Yangdon, a very old folk village. Today it's time to leave history behind as we head for a vibrant, modern metropolis - Busan.


The route is a short but not a sweet one in physical terms. It takes us through Busan and then up some steep slopes to get to the Gamcheon. Stretching our muscles was worth it as Gamcheon is such a colourful and beautiful place.

Our last meal at Hanok Sodamjeong was a cosy one in their gardens. Breakfast is provided for us to prepare ourselves and the girls went about it efficiently, and we ended up with a simple but hearty meal, chatting day in the garden about our previous days experiences and making plans for the next few days.

Goodbye Sodamjeong, Goodbye Gyeongju! Thanks for the memories.
With a short cycle ride we were at the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, boarded a Kumho bus and headed for Busan. Within less than a hour we were at the Busan Central Bus Terminal. Taking a bus is easier as it avoided having to carry our bikes down several levels to get to the trains at the train stations.

 11:00am - First thing to do in Busan.... er...  was not to eat (don't let this photo fool you) but get information from the Tourist Information counter. That done we headed for a Lotteria outlet in the terminal for an early lunch of Bulgogi burgers (yes burgers again, but we loved these burgers). We also shared a Bingsu, putting our spoons into the cup ala Three Musketeers sword clashing style. 

We had thought of taking the bus again, but the local buses don't allow bikes on board. So the train it was then. Fortunately, the Nopo train station connects to the bus terminal and we just rolled our bikes on board the Busan Metro Line 1 train.

Our stay for three nights in Busan was the Dong Yang Motel. It's a very nice hotels with colourful themed rooms AND a large en suite bathroom that even have big Jacuzzi bath-tub.
Our bike bags which we had couriered from Seoul had also arrived (... see Day 1 blog).

Not wasting anymore time, we started our Busan adventure; heading for Gamcheon. But the attractions of the city happily slowed us down, there is so much to see in the city - like this "Accordion Player" brass statue, at the Forty Steps Street.

... and this "Boom Machine Man" preparing his mining equipment. Close your ears girls... "Boom!".

Getting up to Gamcheon was not easy especially on our bikes, the roads were steep and got even steeper as we neared the place. We reached the village, but decided walk around instead and parked our bikes at the Tourist Information office right at the entrance to the village.

But our hard pedalling was worth it, the Gamcheon Culture is such an interesting place with colourful houses dotting the hillside on which it sits.

There are a couple of main streets that are full of shops catering for visitors - shops that sell food, souvenirs and the likes.

But things got more interesting as we explored the narrow back alleys and side lanes. Some are so steep that there are steps there to help make walking easier,

Many of the buildings here have murals painted onto their walls - this one is the Gamcheon Museum...

... and this one at a cafe.
(... read more of the village at the Gamcheon Culture Village blog).

The streets here are so full of art - this giant fish here is made up from smaller timber pieces painted with stylised fishes.

Statues of man-birds stare down from their perch above.

Books on shelves waiting for a reader to reach out and pick one.
(... see more of the artwork at the Gamcheon art blog).

Getting down from Gamcheon was not easy, we had to brake very often down the steep roads. In fact, my brake shoes were due to be changed after we got back from South Korea.

Further down, the narrow pavements we rode on slowed us down even more often. To make manoeuvring easier, the girls lowered their seats so that their feet could touch the ground flatly. 

After seeing art, it's time to explore the markets. The Junggu precinct is full of markets, we started with the Gukje Market.
Following the Korean War, refugees who fled to Busan set up stalls in order to make a living, and this was the beginning of the Gukje Market (gukje meaning "international" in Korean). The Gukje Market is one of Korea’s largest markets; each alleyway is crowded with stalls, and it connects to Bupyeong Market (Kkangtong Market, 부평시장), and other smaller markets. The markets stock such a wide variety of goods, that you can find almost everything you need right here - from machinery, electronics, kitchen appliances, clothing, food, agricultural products, fish, dairy goods, Industrial products and more.

An assortment of kimchi (never realised there were so many types until we saw these).

A man pushing a cart full of water-melons to get around these large markets.

Next was Busan's Chinatown also called the Choryang Shopping Area for foreigners. Okay, we just rode through, casually eyeing the place but did not do any shopping.

With murals of ancient Chinese war heroes and scholars, this place does have a Chinese feel.

But Hey! Chinatown is also Russian-town with the signboards in Russians and pretty Russian ladies relaxing at the road-side cafe.

It's here in Chinatown that we had our dinner. A sumptuous one of pork barbecue and noodles at the Donenu Restaurant 

These pork cutlets looks good on the barbecue grille don't they? They were!

Another Three Musketeers pose with our new bracelets which we bought at Gamcheon.

(It's great to tour with like-minded friends.... Good Night.)

This is page 13 of a 15-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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 A video by Sin of Day 13 of our South Korea tour, from Gyeongju to Busan & then up to Gamcheon Culture Village.



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