Friday 12 April, 2019
Day 5 / Daetan to Uljin
[Missed Day 4? Read the previous post here]
We have a longer 75km day of cycling ahead so we leave a little earlier this morning. As we stayed in a pretty remote town, we decide to grab breakfast at a town about 9km down the road.
The day is sunny and not nearly as cold as it has been the last few days.
A quick 9 km down the road we find a CU convenience store and grab a few things for the day. Outside in the sun I have some kimchi noodles while Cheye has a coffee and danish.
We carry on towards to our first stamp stop for the day: Goraebul Beach.
Despite the headwind, the conditions are quite pleasant to cycle in.
Along the way there are a few steep climbs – nothing over 15% percent gradient but long enough to be a challenge. At the top of one of the hills we find a bus shelter decked out with crab claws.
We pass an older 50 or 60-something year old man on a bike loaded up with camping gear. We say hello to him in Korean and Cheye tells him to ‘keep fighting’!
A bit further along we see a tall walkway that heads out over the ocean. We nearly cycle straight past it but decide to head up the stairs to check out the view.
We climb up several flights of stairs to the top but as we start heading across the walkway, we can hear an alarm going off and someone yelling out to us over the loud speaker in Korean. At first we’re oblivious to it but suddenly we see a few locals waving at us to go back. We’re a bit confused, thinking that we are walking the wrong direction or something. We then realise everyone is required to put plastic covers on their shoes before heading out.
We head back and pop the covers over our shoes before making our way back out again.
Halfway over the bridge we discover that the flooring is made of glass (explaining why we need shoe covers) and we can see all the way down to the ocean. We both freak out a bit as it’s a 50m drop to the water! I’m not normally scared of heights but even this makes me nervous as it’s pretty windy being that high up. Cheye decides to get a better view of the ocean…
At the end of the walkway is a silver statue and an amazing view of the horizon.
Turns out this is the Deunggisan Mountain Skywalk, a 135m walkway that extends from Gatbawi Park and opened at the start of 2018.
We take in the view and scenery before making our way back down to our bikes.
The next stamp stop Wolsong is 21km away, but after 23km I start to worry we may have missed it and decide to turn around to backtrack. We cycle past old camping man along the way. Sure enough, we somehow missed the bright red telephone box with our next stamp.
As we carry on we notice a few bits of roadworks going on, with some tar being laid down on the roads. Old ladies are waving lit batons to direct the minimal traffic.
We decide to stop for lunch in Mangyang, just near our third stamp stop 19km away. After a few more undulations we see the the red phone box and a rest area with some food outlets.
I head inside and order some noodle soup, while Cheye orders an ice chocolate and roast potatoes from the food stall outside. As we are finishing up we see old camping mate and head over for a chat.
Turns out he is 67 years old and lives in Haeundae. He’s cycling up the East Coast solo and has done many of the other cycling routes before, sometimes on a fold up bike. We chat for a bit longer before saying our goodbyes and carry on towards our final stop Uljin.
Our last stamp stop is only 13km away after which we’ll find a motel for the night. We pass more giant crab statues which seem to be everywhere.
Upon reaching Uljin we can’t seem to track down the stamp stop. Turns out the town we’ve stopped at is Susan, a small town just before the main city and the stamp stop is a further 2km down the road. We decide to stay in the smaller town and pull into what appears to be the only motel in town. A man walks out of the restaurant next door and starts waving his arms, signalling that the motel is either closed or nothing is available.
We jump back on the bikes and continue to the next stamp stop on Uljin Sweet Fish Bridge. What a cool looking bridge!
As we are stamping our passport book, we see old camping mate again. His name is Seo Sang Dae and he sets up his tripod to take a photo with us.
We decide to take one with Cheye’s phone too.
After another chat and exchanging of email addresses, we wish him luck for the rest of his journey while we carry on looking for a motel. After heading into town the only thing we can see are villas and apartments but don’t know the procedure in booking one. So Cheye suggests we go to the only hotel in town we can find on the map, Uljin Grand Hotel.
We wander in and the place appears empty. We ring the bell at the front counter and wait. And wait. No one comes to serve us so we ring it again and wait. I poke my head into the office but no one is there. I head into the dining area and even into the kitchen calling out hello, but again there is no answer. We wait a bit longer at reception and eventually a man walks out. We organise our room and check in.
I have a feeling we might be the only guests for the evening but the view ain’t bad.
After a shower and rest, we head out into town for dinner. As we wander through the streets, we notice it’s fairly deserted apart from some people packing up their market stalls for the evening. There are many food places but difficult to find anything of interest until eventually a shop grabs my eye – I recognise the Korean characters on the shop window 돌솥밥 says ‘Dolsot Bap’ (stone bowl rice) so we head in and ask the lady if they have anything vegetarian. She says yes! We sit down and wonder what our mystery vegetarian meal will be tonight.
Shortly after the lady returns with stone bowl rice and loads of veggie ban chan dishes. It’s all delicious and probably some of the nicest Korean food we’ve eaten all trip. I love how every place you go to has different variations of ban chan on offer.
We head back to our hotel in the cold and spend the rest of the night watching the Jackie Chan movie ‘The Tuxedo’ before crashing out. Not one of his best movies but better than infomercials.
Distance cycled: 87km, mostly coastal roads with some decent climbs up to 15% gradient
Accommodation: Uljin Grand Hotel (70,000 won)
Lunch: Mangyang Rest Area / Food Stop
Dinner: Dolsot Bap Restaurant (Stone Bowl Rice)
SOUTH KOREAN TRAVEL TIP
When cycling through Korea, there’s no need to carry loads of food with you as there are always lots of convenience stores along the way. We travelled super light on this trip compared to the last few times when we carried panniers. We managed with just a small frame bag and front pouch on each biked – saving about 20kg each!