Wednesday 7 September, 2023
Day 5 | Seoul to Gurye-gun
[Missed the previous post? Check it out here]
After many unexpected delays our first cycling day has finally arrived! As our start has been pushed back several days we decide to skip the first leg of our journey and jump straight to the second leg along the southern bike path as we need to make it to Mokpo within the next three days.
We put our newly repaired bikes together and make our way to Seoul City Central Bus Terminal at 6.45am, weaving our way through the human traffic. It’s a bit tricky finding as you don’t want to confuse it with Express Bus Terminal and end up waiting on the wrong platform.
It’s super nice inside the terminal building which is lined with shops and eateries.
Tickets are easy to collect from the self-serve ticket outlet and it’s not long before our bus arrives.
We pop our bikes underneath the bus, scan our tickets as we step on and take our seats, which fully recline.
There’s a handy screen at the front of the bus that shows which seats have been booked, which ones are empty and who we are waiting on (hurry up seat 16)! Our bus departs precisely at 8:10am.
The bus make a stop at about the 90 minute mark, which allows passengers to stretch their legs, get some snacks and use the amenities. There’s a pretty massive food area too!
The four hours goes pretty quickly and before we know it we have arrived at Dongwangyang (Jungma Terminal).
It’s already 12:30pm when we arrive, which is a bit later than we would have liked but decide to stop into the 7-11 for some lunch. Cheye grabs some baked goods and I get some noodles, which is my meal of choice during cycling trips.
By the time we set off it’s 1pm and getting pretty warm.
Our first stamp stop is about 10km from the bus terminal but a few wrong or missed turns sets us back and we end up cycling an extra 4km.
Along the way, Cheye manages to brush past a poison oak bush and a burn starts to develop on his arm.
And this is where our bad luck really begins. While climbing the first of a bunch of hills for the day, Cheye’s bike chain snaps. We don’t have a chain breaker or any spare links so I spend the next half hour trying to reconnect the chain.
It’s a D-grade job but manages to hold together… until it snaps again a few hundred metres down the path.
I fix it again but this time it only lasts about 100m before snapping again. We do a a search for bike shops around the area and find one about 8km down the road. It’s already 4pm by this time, so we decide that I will cycle to the shop, taking the broken chain with me to see if they can fix it. Cheye will walk with his bike and hopefully they will still be open until he arrives (assuming they close at 5pm).
I set off and get to the shop about 20 minutes later. After a quick chat with the store owner through google translate, he offers to pick Cheye and his bike up with his van. He sets off and about 3km down the road we see Cheye walking with his bike. Our bike shop guy stops and loads Cheye and his bike into the van before we make our way back to the shop.
It takes about ten minutes for the chain to be fixed, and we decide to pump our tyres too.
We have a brief conversation with the man before setting off. So grateful he was able to help us!
As we are about to ride off the lady runs out and gives us two bottles of Vitamin D energy drink, probably because it looked like we needed it. By this time it’s already after 5pm and we hadn’t even finished half our day’s cycling yet.
It’s 4km to the next stamp stop Maewa Village, followed by 17km to Namdo Bridge and another 18km to Saseongam. We decide to reassess at each stamp stop to see if we want to stop for the day or push through.
We get to Maewa Village pretty quickly and can’t believe it’s taken this long get only two stamps so far today.
We push on and continue towards Namdo Bridge.
By this time I’m getting pretty hungry and I’m gutted to see a Kimbap shop next to the stamp stop which is closed.
It’s already 6:30pm and we decide to push on for the last 18km meaning we won’t arrive at the final stop until 7:30pm, and any accommodation before 8pm.
The sun sets at around 7pm and it’s lucky we have good lights this time compared to our last trip. We push on and see the gorgeous sunset lining the river.
We also see a smaller Korean version of Gardens By The Bay, an popular attraction we visited the last time we were in Singapore.
Night falls rather quickly and it starts getting a bit scary cycling in the darkness. The final stamp stop can’t come quickly enough and if it weren’t for the distance markers on the road, we would have cycled straight past it.
It’s completely dark as I try to stamp the passports.
As we are about to set off to look for a place to stay for the night I hear a hissing noise coming from Cheye’s bike. It’s his back wheel and the valve has decide to release all its air with the tyre going completely flat. Cheye decides to push on and ride with the flat as it should only be 5km.
We make it to town but everything seems dark. The few motels I have marked out on the map appear to be closed. We decide to try a guest house that has a few dimly lit lights but no cars in the parking lot.
As I walk around the property, a guy comes out of the office and I ask if he has any rooms available. He crosses his arms like an X to advise there are no rooms and that all accommodation is closed due to damage from flooding from the typhoon. I ask if there is anything available and where we can stay for the night. He does an online search for me but cannot find anything. He then says that he will provide a room for us for the night even though they are meant to be closed.
After we drop our bikes off in the back shed, he takes up up the stairs to our room. We are extremely grateful and then ask if there is anywhere close by to get some food as it’s nearly 9pm. He says everything is shut, again because of the typhoon. He asks if we have had dinner and we reply that we have only had lunch, so he says he will check at his office and come back shortly.
About ten minutes later he returns and asks if we eat pasta. At this stage I’ll eat almost anything! So we order two serves of pasta and a beer. Cheye also asks he there is dessert available but I think we are pushing our luck. He returns after 20 minutes with two giant bowls of pasta and an even bigger bottle of beer.
I don’t normally like Italian food but tonight it’s a real treat because otherwise we wouldn’t have had anything for dinner.
On all our previous cycle trips to Korea we have always sought accommodation on the day which meant we could be more flexible with our travels. However on this trip we may need to start pre-booking a few things, especially after the typhoon earlier this week. We decide to book a place called Manhattan Motel for tomorrow night as it’s the only place around the area we want to stay that has rooms available to book online. It’s also going to turn our 80km ride tomorrow into 100km but if we can avoid at least one of the problems from today’s journey then I think that’s a good start.
We also plan to stop by the convenience store in the morning and stock up on food in case of emergencies like tonight. But not before we fix Cheye’s flat tire. Tomorrow can’t be any worse than today, right?
And to finish, here’s Cheye’s poison oak burn!
Distance cycled: 77km
Accommodation and dinner: 나들목민박
Bike shop: Alton Bike Shop