Friday 19 April, 2019
Day 12 / Sokcho to Seoul (via Chuncheon to Ungilsan)
[Missed day 11? Read the previous post here]
The alarm goes off at 5:30am. I’m suffering from all sorts of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after the seven hours of hiking we did yesterday. I hit snooze and we lie in bed for a moment wondering if we really want to cycle about 100km today or take a rest day as originally planned. We decide to reassess how we feel once our bus arrives in Chuncheon as there’s always the option of catching the train from there back to Seoul if we’re really struggling. As we get ready I ask Cheye ‘Are we crazy?’
We cycle 16km to Sokcho bus station and realise it’s mostly downhill which is why the ride when we first arrived at The Red House the other day felt so tough. It’s pretty chilly at that time of morning and my fingers are so cold they go numb.
We make it to the main road and turn off towards the bus terminal. Cruising by the coast the ocean looks stunning with the sun glistening in the water as it rises.
We buy our tickets and get some breakfast from the convenience store as we wait for the bus. It departs right on schedule and takes just under two hours into Chuncheon. We catch up on a bit of sleep along the way.
The air is still super chilly so I throw on my extra jacket before we jump on the bikes. It’s overcast with some light winds but I say as long as it doesn’t rain then we’re good.
There are a few drops of rain along the way but it’s not much more than that. I get the passport books out ready to be stamped for the final time this trip and we set off along the river.
The first stamp stop and starting point for the Bukhangang Cycle Path is 10km from the bus terminal and we find it pretty easily as there are signs everywhere.
The rest of the cycle path is also pretty easy to navigate as well and there are a few cyclists out and about including this guy who looked like he was all decked out ready for a world cycling tour.
It’s 30km to the next stop and 25km to the one after that.
It’s pretty easy riding for the most part and we see cherry blossoms lining the path which look really pretty. We’re lucky that this is the second time we’ve seen cherry blossoms during our travels through South Korea.
We also pass by a gallery with a giant orange ball sculpture.
The final stop is another 15km which takes us all the way to Ungilsan station.
I keep saying throughout the ride today that the path would be stunning in the autumn with all the gorgeous colours of the trees and leaves but we’re more than happy with the endless cherry blossoms.
The sun has come out and it turns out to be quite a nice day as collect our final stamp.
After getting to Ungilsan station, we see a message sent from Lee at Bikely (our bike rental shop) telling us that they have recently stopped people from taking bikes on the trains unless they are packed in a bike bag. He gives us a few other options to get back to Seoul including catching a bus and cycle back to Yongsan. We really don’t want to cycle any more than we have to and decide to try our luck on the trains.
We manage to get the bikes on the train and wheel them onto the last carriage where there are bike racks (at one point on the platform as we try to sneak past station staff with our bikes, Cheye whispers “I’m trying to be as inconspicuous as possible” before crashing his bike into a pole and making quite a loud noise).
The trip takes a little over an hour and once there we cruise down to Bikely to return our bikes to Lee. As we sort our stuff out, one of Lee’s friends tells us of his adventures of cycling over 6,000km through Australia from Darwin to Sydney via Alice Springs and Melbourne. He tells us of his plans to cycle South America soon. We tell him one day we will make it there. We say our goodbyes to Lee and friend and head off towards our AirBnB in Gangnam.
Korean addresses can be quite complicated to work out, so every time we book an AirBnB there we get a full manual from the host on how to find the place, rather than an address. We find this one with ease and settle in. It’s a cute studio not too far from the station.
Cheye has a friend arriving from Japan this evening so he organises that while I sort out some dinner and plans for our trail run tomorrow. We signed up for the Korea 50k Trail Run and have somehow talked a bunch of our friends into come along! No we’re not doing the entire 50km, that would be crazy.
I find a local Korean place downstairs and grab some Dolsot Bibimbap and Kimbap. We are both in a world of hurt after all the hiking we did yesterday so I’m not sure how we are going to cope with a 10km run tomorrow but after today’s effort there’s really nothing we won’t put ourselves through!