Monday 8 April, 2019
Day 1 / Seoul to Haeundae
[Missed the previous day? Read the last post here]
On all our past trips to Korea, we have always rented our bikes from a store called Bikely. The owner Lee is super friendly and helpful, and speaks great English. We make our way there and have a quick chat with him before he moves on to getting our bikes ready.
The last few times we cycled, we carried panniers the entire way. This time we’ve decided to go super light and only use frame bags, which saves about 20kg on the bike. We notice it makes a huge difference straight away as we have to cycle 15km along the Han River to Dongsan Bus Station.
The ride to the station is pretty cruisy and brings back memories of the first time we cycled to Busan and made a wrong turn pretty early in the trip. That definitely didn’t happen today!
We arrive at the station and purchase our tickets to Haeundae, a coastal town about 10km east of Busan. Busan has three main bus terminals departing from Seoul. We are planning to cycle up the East Coast so it makes sense to stay near Haeundae rather than stay in the centre of Busan and try to navigate our way out of the city the following day. However if you’re planning to cycle the 4 Rivers, you’re probably better off catching one of the other buses that end up in the centre of town.
The tickets are fairly straight forward to purchase: they cost 36,500 won each and you can generally buy them on the day (we left on a Monday so the bus was half empty). We pick up some lunch and supplies from Tous Les Jours and an oddly named store call Gag Story Mart.
The bikes fit easily under the bus and the seats are big and comfortable with air con, free wifi and phone charger outlet. The trip takes about 4.5 hours so we should arrive by dinner time. I make use of the free wifi and book our room for the night at Hotel 109.
We find it pretty easily and check in. The room is great and is only 36,000 won for the night which is not only the cheapest room we’ve had on any of our trips to Korea but also one of the nicest.
After checking in and locking our bikes up outside, we wander down the road in search of some dinner. Being a beach side town, there are plenty of seafood restaurants but we stumble upon a small place on the corner that sells a few traditional Korean dishes including Cheye’s favourite dokpokki (spicy rice cakes).
We head in and order that, some noodles and kimchi fried rice.
The food is fantastic and just what we need on a cold night like tonight. A man sitting nearby starts chatting to us, asking where we are from and about our travels. We ask him how to pronounce some Korean dishes, including the kimchi fried rice that Cheye has decided is his new favourite dish.
We make our way back to the hotel for some Korean TV and discuss our route for tomorrow before calling it a night.
South Korea Travel Tip
Having a SIM card will make life so much easier when cycling through South Korea. We pre-ordered ours through North SIM. You will have access to maps, apps and general info you might need along the way. It also allows you to suss out what accommodation is available around the area, whether on hotel booking sites or just by checking locations on maps itself as many motels in small towns don’t have online pre-booking.