korea


Tentative route:

Rob's route through Korea

UPDATE: I have changed my route so that it takes in the eastern coast right up to the border with North Korea, and then cutting across to Seoul. Apparently you can get away with camping on the beaches, so I am going to try that on. (23rd July, 2006) 

UPDATE: OK, so I was kind of running short of time in Korea, so after a very short stint on the coast, I made a change of course straight for Seoul. The final route is very similar to the one on the map above. For more info on my route and where I stayed, check out the Korea category of my blog. (31st July, 2006)

Dates: Mid-July till end of July 

Total distance to bike: 500km

Estimated kms per day: Just starting out, so 70kms per day

Expected road conditions: Smooth sealed main roads and well kept back roads

Climate: Average 24oC and humid

 


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14 thoughts on “korea

  • juju

    Comment:

    Hey,Rob.

    I will buy the map of Korea for you.

    And, I think I can give you some yummy places in Seoul!

    Response:

    Thanks Juju. I am really looking forward to seeing Korea in summer-time. The last few times I was there it was the middle of winter! I'd be stoked if you could get me a map. Let me know about those yummy places in Seoul!  – Rob

  • yunhee

    Hey! HI, Tony! ;-)nuh~, Rob!

    I saw your homepage address in akiwo's blog, and jumped here.

    Some of my friends told me about a great guest house in Seoul- well actually it's introduced on the [jikyuu-no arukikata- Seoul] they said it was quite cheap and clean..(I can lend my book if you want:-))

    and also there is a very famous fleamarket which opens every weekend at a small park in front of Hongik Univ…osusumedesu!

    <hr />Hey Yunhee! Thanks for the info. I was just looking at 地球の歩き方 (the Korea version) today. I'm thinking of buying it, so I'll check out that guest house you mentioned. The flea-market sounds great – it may be a good opportunity to buy some stuff for the China leg of the trip.    – Rob

  • Young Man Hwang

    Hi,

    I met you on the road to APU 07 June afternoon and your recumbent's front tire flated. And rainny day 08 June evening on the same road. Can you remember me come from Korea?

    I was riding 07 June ~09 June in there. And I came back here Masan Korea.

    If you need some informations about Korean road riding, you may ask to me anytime.

    My phone is +82-17-559-5050

    And Korean road is somekind dangerous in riding because there are heavy traffic on the road.

    I recommand you to find less traffic road and ride safer side road in some cases.

    Thanks

    Young man

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Young Man, thank you so much for your comment. I do indeed remember you. I guess you must be in Korea now…I have heard about the busy roads in Korea. Especially around Pusan and Seoul. I think I will change my route and bike up the northern coast of Korea. Maybe there will be less traffic there?

    Thank you again for your advice and contact number!

    Rob

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    I recently received a few emails from a great guy, Andreas Roeschies (http://www.liegerad-fernweh.de) who has essentially planned my entire Korea leg of the trip! 🙂 Check out his website for some great photos. Thanks Andreas, you are a legend! – Rob

    From Andreas:

    I rode my recumbent from Seoul to Pusan in September 2005.

    You can find pictures on my home page (click on "reiseberichte", then

    you should find an item "Korea & Guam").

    Especially around the big cities, there are no nice roads, so we used a

    bus to get out of Seoul and the subway for the last 20 kilometres to busan.

    Sometimes it is virtually impossible to find calm roads in Korea, as the

    population density is very high. I found the car drivers harmless, they

    keeped more than enough distance on two lane roads, but my advice is to

    avoid the most busy roads around seoul. Avoid especially the road number

    46 between Seoul and Gapyeon – as far as I remember it has only one lane

    per direction and is VERY busy.

    Check out my homepage to see where I used a bus (indicated by green

    lines on the map).

    If you want to see the border to North Korea, go to the USO – their

    tours are good and affordable. To my knowledge no other tour operator

    offers tours that cover both the border itself (i.e. the blue houses of

    the United Nations) AND of of the tunnels between the Korea, probably

    dig by N. Korea (but you never know the trutz, and be prepared that

    everything the American soldiers tell you is very biased). You HAVE to

    book some days in advance, so call them in time.

    http://www.uso.org/korea/ http://www.uso.org/korea/default.cfm?contentid=34

    Question from Rob: Did you have any problems with getting your bike on the subway?

    No. We were helped by an subway agent who showed us how to buy an

    additional "luggage ticket". You may have to carry your bicycle, as

    Korean subway stations have very few escalators or lifts. Koreans are

    healthy, they walk a lot and they seem to like stairs.

    Most ATMs in South Korea accept only domestic credit cards. ATMs for

    foreign credit cards exist ONLY in big cities and in areas with foreign

    tourists.

    You should definitely go to the fish market in busan. They sell so many

    fishes there, it's unbelievable. Half of the market is open air, the

    other half is in a hall. There you can choose living fishes to be

    prepared immediately. Some fishes (e.g. sea urchin) is eaten living, so

    it moves when you eat it. Baby Octopus is even struggling against being

    eaten, but you can have it boiled instead (very tasty, the brain is

    considered the best). Go there!

    In Gyeongju there are very many barrows/tumulus, spreaded in the town

    area. Climb up one and enjoy the view. Use the bus to go to the famous

    Seokguram grotto. Unfortunately it is behind glass and you have to take

    pictures secretly and it is less impressive than the books might imply,

    but it is considered a "must", so see it.

    Further north, at the coast there is a village "Sinnam", not on every

    map, but look for it. There is a penis park with many wooden penises. Go

    there!

    In the Seoraksan national park you can hike and see some nice

    waterfalls. If you like to hike, stay there 2-3 days. You should have

    some hiking experience. The signs "xx minutes to yy" are for fast

    hikers, I was half that fast.

    In Seoul, you may want to go the "63 building", which is the tallest

    skyscraper in town. You'll have a nice view and signs with the distance

    to many capitals (there is Paris, but I don't remember if there is a

    sign to London).

    You may also want to go up Namsan Hill, but I heard Namsan Tower (on top

    of the hill) is not worth going up there. Anyway, it was closed while I

    stayed in Seoul.

    Thanks again Andreas, you have provided some fantastic advice. Your photos on your website are great, and thank you for the time to write your experiences out.

  • T Kootee Korvah

    Hi Rob,

    I have gone through comments made by others from Korea.

    Mine is, I know the roads you are cycling on are well built unlike those in Guinea here.

    Is it possible to cycle on muddy roads?

    T. K. Korvah

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    T.K.Korvah, thank you for the question. So long as the road is just muddy, then it shouldn't be too much of a problem. If however the road is also very rutted with vehicle tracks, I may have a harder time. I won't be taking any off-road tyres, however with about 25kg of lugguage on the bike, that should give me plenty of traction. By the way, the answers to your FAQ questions are here. I hope things are going well with your university procedures.

  • MARK

    I linked to your site as I was searching for info on the Streetmachine…I am planning my own round-the-world tour and am considering the GTe. Interestingly, I just completed a 1000km tour of China from Qingdao to Beijing two weeks ago. So, I could offer some advice in that area…Chinese people, outside of the major tourist areas, are extremely friendly and especially curious about recumbents. It was not uncommon to stop at a fruit stand and have 30 Chinese surrounding me, gawking at both me and the strange contraption I was riding. I only camped two times while in China because accomodations were so cheap in the smaller towns.

    More importantly, I live in Seoul, and am more than willing to open my home to touring cyclists for a few nights under a roof. I met a cycling Spaniard on the boat back from China and he stayed with me for a week before moving on and heading to his ultimate destination in Japan. perhaps you two will cross paths as he heads south to Pusan.

    I may be back on vacation-depending on when you make it to Seoul-trying to get to Japan for a few days.

    Let me know if you need info on biking in and around Seoul because I rode my bike from my house(just south of Seoul) to the boat in Incheon and could give you the route that I selected.

    My number: 010 7622 5362 Good Luck!

    Mark

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Mark, thank you so much for dropping by and offering to provide some info. I will certainly be interested in your route from Seoul to Incheon, and even more interested to hear about the ferry trip to China. I am planning on crossing from Incheon to Tenshin, but I presume that the process of getting on the boat is the same as if I was going to Qingdao (I presume you went on the ferry?).

    By the way, what bike were you riding during your Qingdao – Beijing trip? So far I am very impressed with how snug all my gear fits onto the Street Machine GTe.

  • MARK

    Rob,

    I actually went on the ferry to Qingdao–but returned on the Tianjin ferry. Unfortunately, the Tianjin ferry requires a bike portage up 3 flights of stairs to board the boat. As well as the requirement to ride the bus from the terminal to the actual boat-only about 1/4 mile–but they make you load the bikes up on a bus full of people for the ride. Downloading in Tianjin is only about 100 meters walk-maybe if you sweet talk them they will let you push the bike instead of riding the bus for 100 meters. I went on the cheap fair and just got a floor space to sleep on–not as bad as it sounds…plus I met some really nice people on the ferry. I was also surprised that the food on the ferry wasn't grossly overpriced–only slightly higher than elswhere in Korea. The boarding in Incheon was very easy, no trouble with getting the bikes on, no hassles at all.

    I was riding an "actionbent" recumbent–actually similar in design to the streetmachine (except I have ASS) and, hopefully, the streetmachine is more durable. I had one major repair that required me to get my rear dropouts welded back on while in China. Luckily, it was China and the 1 hour repair only cost me about one USD.

    So, now I am looking for a more tour worthy machine to take me on my next adventure. I would love to have the opportunity to look at it close-up–when do you expect to be in the Seoul area?

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Mark,

    It looks like I will be in Seoul tomorrow (1st August). I am currently in Yongin City, about 50kms or so directly south of Seoul. I will start early and carefully try to navigate myself into the city. I think I will take a day in Seoul and then head to Incheon on Thursday. Therefore, if you are in Seoul tomorrow or Wednesday, please let me know and we could meet up.

    Cheers,

    Rob

  • MARK

    Rob,

    Wow! You made really good time! I was afraid I was gonna miss you-I'll be heading south for my vacation soon. Tomorrow, as it turns out, I will be in Seoul taking care of some business. I will have my phone with me all day–heading up there in the morningand should be finished by about noon or so. Just give me a call as soon as you can and we'll see how we can plan a meeting…which way are you approaching Seoul? Looks like you might be passing right by my house…call me early and maybe it will work better… Hope to hear from you soon.

    Mark

  • Peter

    Rob, Good luck on your tour.

    I'll be teaching ESL in Busan for the next year.

    I'm debating shipping my recumbent (Actionbent). Is it possible to acquire a reasonably priced recumbent in Busan?

    Look forward to reading about more of your adventures…

    Yours,

    Peter