Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cycling Korea 2016: Day 14 - Cycling Busan & Beyond

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Cycling Korea 2016: Day 14 - Cycling Busan & Beyond
Tour of South Korea : Day 14, 17th June 2016
Cycling Distance - 20.15km.     Level: Hard (because of the sleep slopes from Haeundae to Songjeongju).
Time : 9:45am to 9:45pm.     |     Time Taken : 12hrs (including train & bus rides, breakfast & lunch, visits to Jagalchi Market, street art at Jagalchi, Haeundae Beach, the Songjeongju Lighthouses, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, orienteering directions & 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.

2. Ride Conditions
- The roads around Busan Port & Jagalchi are relatively flat. The coastal route from Haeundae to Songjeongju crosses a couple of hills with steep slopes. The coastal route from Songjeongju to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is relatively flat, only a short stretch leading from the main road to the temple has some slopes..
- 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 (we were lucky that the shuttle bus from the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple to Haeundae allowed us to take our folded bikes in, it was the last bus & we were the last passengers).

4. Points of Interest
Busan Port vicinity (GPS: 35.10353, 129.04236).
Jagalchi Market (부산 자갈치시장) (GPS: 35.0967, 129.03048).
New Millennium Commemorative Project Monument and other street art at Junggu (GPS: 35.0993, 129.03134).
Busan Tower (부산타워) (GPS: 35.10121, 129.03229).
Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장) (GPS: 35.15831, 129.15998)
- The two lighthouses at Songjeongju (GPS: 35.18048, 129.20579, for fishermen's jetty there which has a good view of the lighthouses )
- The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) (GPS: 35.18834, 129.2233).

5. Food
- Breakfast was at Kobongmin Gimbapin Restaurant that specialises in gimbaps. It's a cosy place run my a friendly lady (GPS: 35.10684, 129.03713)
- Lunch was a dim-sum outlet at Haeundae Market Alley (부산 해운대시장) (GPS: 35.16166, 129.16263).
- Dinner was Tsushima Burgers (that comes with octopus) at the Chinguya & Kiyo bistro in Busan (GPS: 35.11368, 129.04051).

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.


We had had arrived at Busan the previous day from Gyeongju. It was a pleasant introduction to the city, with a tough but rewarding ride up to the Gamcheon Culture Village, experiencing some street art at the 40-steps Street and Busan Chinatown.
Today we will visit the Jagalchi Market and then head out to Haeundae and a temple slightly beyond that.



The route takes us around Busan city before heading to Haeundae and then onwards along the coastal route to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.

9:30am - We are taking it easy today, starting the day later. But it was a good start with breakfast at a cosy shop nearby - the Kobongmin Gimbapin Restaurant, as the name implies they specialised in gimbaps but they do have other dishes too. We went for one of the gimbaps, don't ask me the name, it was in Korean and we just pointed at it to order as it looked good. Other food that we had we some noodles and a bap roll that was rolled in an egg roll instead of seaweed.
The place is cosy and homely, even a wall mural exudes that warm feeling with a rabbit making gimbap; the lady who operated this shop was not furry but was sure as friendly as a rabbit.

Their gimbaps are freshly made. We ordered and the pretty lady immediately rolled it out; laying the gim (seaweed sheet) onto a mat made of bamboo sticks, applied a layer of rice, sprinkled the ingredients and slowly rolled the mat to form the gimbap. This one is a seafood gimbap with vegetables, crab-sticks and cheese to.... YummY! 

It was a good meal that gave us the impetus to roll on towards Busan Port, along the way were nice cycling paths. We passed this toilet that looked like..... a ship!

We did not enter the port as it was a restricted area, but instead stopped at a nearby point which gave us a good view of ships berthed in a row, ships sailing by...

... and further away on the hillside was the Gamcheon Culture Village, looking colourful even from afar.

Here was where we started enjoying posing with the many art pieces of Busan. This one is of a family of refugees who fled to the city during the Korean War. 

... dynamic floor murals!

At the Jagalchi Fish Market, lady tourists were taking a rest at seats with shiny stainless steel fishes swimming behind them.

Even before we entered the market proper, the flurry of activities at the shops and streets surrounding the market fascinated us - here a lady was hunched over placing fish to be dried in the sun.

But it was inside the market, especially at the fresh food section on the ground floor that really floored us. When they say the food is fresh, it literally is, as most of the sea food here were alive; swimming, crawling or wriggling around within their enclosures.

Here's a few samples of the more interesting (weird looking, would be a more appropriate description):
These orange looking things are not fruits but marine life know as "Sea Pineapples'. called meongge (멍게) in Korean. These are eaten raw like sushi. The soft spiny external shell is cut opened and the flesh inside is eaten. This is a favourite among Korean ladies as it is suppose to improve their skin complexion. At the top tray, black sea slugs slowly wriggled around. 

And these are not fish roe but spoon worms (Gaebul 개불) that are cut up an eaten raw, while the cut parts are still wriggling (... sea a YouTube video on this). I stood there for a while watching them, trying to figure our which is the head and which the tail.... er.... they seem to be breathing through their asses!

... and the ever favourite live octopus (Sannakji 산낙지)! Eating these can be dangerous as even when cut up the tentacles are still wriggling and the suction cups can stick to the throat and cause choking & suffocation (... see a YouTube video on eating octopus). 

Outside the market, at a storage shed, a fishmonger was most happy to pose with our lady cycling buddies. The store had a beautiful mural of seagulls flying over cresting waves.

From the market we crossed over to Gwangbok-ro; it's time to enjoy more of the city's art pieces!

But before that a slight distraction; tall ice-cream in a cone!

Hello! Shake my hand.

... and why not ride a caravan in a Joseon Tongsingsa Parade style, a traditional parade that highlights the friendship between Korea and Japan after the Imjin Waeran (Japanese invasion of Joseon in 1592).

Even these pipe-work and air-conditioning units hanging on the rear walls at the back alley of Junggu-ro somehow looked like art.

Between those pipes and equipment were beautiful wall murals too, like this one painted along the line of  Van Gogh's "The Starry Night".
(... click here to see more of Busan's street art)

From there we rolled over a short distance to Busan Tower. We did not cycle up to the tower, but were happy to just view it from the bottom; we were conserving our strength for climbs later during the day. Instead we occupied ourselves fiddling around a house of masks at the bottom; we called it the House of Masks as it had many carved traditional wooden Korean masks.

Well, as much fun as we were having, it was time to leave the city and head out beyond.
At the nearby Jungang Station we boarded a Line 1 Metro train and switched to a Line 2 at SeomyeonBusan's Metro train charges a flat rate of 1,300KRW if travelling on a single line irrespective of distances travelled. If a journey spans two or more line, the fare is 1,500KRW.

Our destination - Haeundae Beach. It was a sunny day and bright red parasols lined the edge of the beach. Far behind was a hill with high-end apartments and houses.
It was a hot day, and we decided not to swim, after all we were here to cycle. We dropped by the tourist information office to ask for assistance.... on where to eat!

The helpful tour booth lady directed us to Haeundae Traditional Market Alley (부산 해운대시장), efficiently marking it on a map. It's just across the street from the beach, stretching along Gunam-ro 41beon-gil and has a potpourri of shops selling fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits and traditional Korean food.

Here we had lunch, Korean style dim sum consisting of steamed meat & bean buns, meat dumplings, prawn dumplings & even kimchi-dumpling. That's a first for us, the kimchi ones; they had some kimchi inside mixed together with the meat, not that strong but enough to give it the kimchi flavour.

4:30pm - With our late lunch over, we headed for our next destination, the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Although our GPS units pointed us along inland main road (Haeun-daero), we decided to take the coastal road, hoping that it will be a scenic route with great views of the seaside and beaches. Well, it did take us on a scenic route, a shady one riding along board walks shaded by cherry trees. This road Dalmaji-gil is one of the most scenic here, especially during colourful spring cherry blossom season, and winter snow white season (... click here for photos of these).
BUT.... yes, there is always a BUT, it did not hug the beach (as there were none along the route) and instead went up and down two hills before reaching the flatter roads of Songjeongju. And the slopes along the first hill was rather steep, with some of us having to come down and push.

There was some reward though, along the way up the first hill was a view point with a great view spanning from Haeundae Beach to Songjeong Beach. Tired after climbing the slopes we took a rest here and met a passing local cyclist who advised that there were several steep hills yet to come. Well, that was a deterrent! Not wanting to over-stretch themselves the rest decided to turn back; while Anne & me pushed on - we were eager to see the temple.

Actually, we were misinformed. The climb just continued on for another 1/2 kilometre and after that the two of us were zooming down slope. The second hill was easier to tackle as the slopes were not that steep. Having "conquered" both hills we stopped at the fishermen's jetty at Songjeongju and viewed the two light houses there. One was red while the other was white, I wonder what was the significance in the different colours, are they directional indicators... or perhaps it's just to make them look distinct. Whatever the case was, they were attractively set against the blue skies and a darker blue sea.
From Songjeongju to the temple the road was flat except for the last part, just a bit of climb.

6:30pm -  On arrival, we were met by these animals, those of the Chinese Zodiac, at the entrance to the temple. We took turns to be photographed with our respective animals. Me with my zodiac sign the dog. Hah! Now you know why my blog is called "Old Dog Rides Again"! Getting down to the temple was down a series of steep stairs (totaling a lucky 108 steps). Not wanting to have to carry our bikes up again later, we conveniently locked them at one of the top landing.

The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is not a large temple but sitting on the rocky slopes beside the sea, it did present a picturesque view.

This is the main temple building.

The temple is a Buddhist temple, and sited at a cove, it is unique as most temples in Korea are located in the mountains. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 by the great Buddhist teacher known as Naong during the Goryeo DynastyThe main sanctuary of the temple was reconstructed in 1970 with careful attention paid to the colours that were traditionally used in such structures.

When we arrived, the main temple pavilion had already closed, and we had to content ourselves with taking photos at the outside like this one at the colourful doors; they did really pay attention to the colouring details when they re-constructed it. These doors are beautiful, aren't they?

Up on the left cliff were these large bell-shaped monoliths, standing like sentinels guarding the temple. Constructed form brownish stones, they stood out conspicuously against the blue sky and sea.

At the back of the main pavilion, was a lovely garden. Here, a tall statue of Guanyin stood guard, overlooking the sea and also smaller statues at niches surrounding her pedestal.

Here too are many miniature porcelain statues, some bronze and others in lively colours. These three cute little monks in a "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" pose, sat at the feet of a large statue.

Visitors had cleverly put flower blossoms over the miniature statues, making them look like wearing colourful hats over their bald heads.

7:30pm - The moon has risen, the sky is a dusky sky blue. We wanted to linger on but the temple closes at sunset, it's time to leave.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple shuttle bus schedule.
Deigning to cycle back to Haeundae at night, we had planned to take a local bus, taking a risk that they would allow our bikes on board. Cycling out to the main road, we waited at the nearest bus stop when we saw a small bus rolling by from the opposite side, made a U-turn and stopped right in front of us. We were lucky, this was the regular temple shuttle bus doing it's last run.
Without hesitation we boarded and asked the driver whether the bus was heading for Jangsan Station (that's the last station of Busan's Metro Line 2. "No, no Jangsan", he replied "Haeundae!" Even better! The bus fare was 1,100KRW per pax and it took us on a loop across Haeundae town.

9:45pm - We are back at Busan, meeting up with the rest of the pack at the Chinguya & Kiyo Bistro located just a street away from our motel. Anne had curry rice while I went for this awesome Tsushima Cheeseburger, that came with cuts of squid.

It had been a long, interesting day; one where we explored Busan and beyond; from a fish market to street art, beaches, food alleys, light houses and a temple. It was a fruitful day, and I could hear the dragon of the temple roaring it's approval...


This is page 14 of a 15-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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