Up and down stream

Posted by on 17, Oct 2016 in 2016 - South Korea, Asia, South Korea, Tilly the Tandem

Up and down stream

Seomjingang and Yeongsangang Rivers​440km 9 days 1386m climb (1525km total)

Getting the bus proved easy. We turned up and asked for tickets at the booth and the lady immediately called a man over who took us out to the coach parkijg with our bike, showed us where the bus parked, checked with other drivers we’d get Tilly on and then bought our tickets for us at an automated machine.  Very helpful.

The ride through the countryside was a lovely change from cycling too. Sitting back and watching the world go by in air-conditioned luxury instead of peddling away in sweat conditioned clothes!

Sadly in our haste to unload at our 5 minutes stop destination my hat got mislaid but apart from that we arrived about 10km shy of the start of our route and found the way to our route quite easily,  hiding under a flyover for 20 minutes for a serious downpour.  

New hat purchased (I now look like a scout leader!) We arrived at the start of the route and got our first passport stamp surrounded by more cyclists “Woooooowwwing”  over Tilly.  One even offered us accomodation in Mockbo! 

The cycle route was absolutely gorgeous, the loveliest of the all the rides so far, and very quiet too. It was more undulating but much more remote with the path hugging the edge of hills and occasionally going under water due to flooding and sending us on detours to avoid getting washed away.

It’s quite short at 150km and we were sad to reach the end, it’s beautiful, quite easy cycling and also quite remote. Next up we had to head across a link route to the start of the Yeongsanggang River route. 

This route was again lovely and having gone uphill on the way to it we had the benefit of a gentle downhill together with some wind assistance seeing us eating up the km at over 20kph for long stretches.  The river starts the size of a stream at the Damyangdam but by the end of the route in Mokbo is enormous, possibly a kilometer or more wide. This is mainly due we think to the dams themselves, but it’s still quite impressive that such a small stream can feed such a huge river.

We’d actually managed to camp again, this time at the largest white lotus lake in Asia, which had no flowers in bloom when we visited, but was still quite beautiful. You tend to camp here on raised wooden platforms which our pegs won’t work with so we get shunted off to the caravan section and end up camping on semi concrete/grass weave.  It’s nice to camp but our efforts have been thwarted by our wimpiness.  Often the rain comes at night and can be torrential so we don’t want to camp on those nights or its very humid so naturally the days you pass a nice campsite it’s on those occasions  and when it’s ideal to camp all we seem to find is no camping signs.  But it’s not bothered us really – old age, the attraction of air con, a hot shower and a toilet you don’t have to crawl out of bed and walk 100m to and the fact that the motels are so much fun and so cheap (camping £10, motel £25) are great incentives to motel!

So now we are at Mokbo, a port town that in our map looked the size of Stowmarket but is more like Norwich. We arrived at lunch time and it took us all all afternoon to find out the bus times for the route after Jeju Island and reserve tickets for the morning ferry to Jeju. We’re getting the ferry  in the morning…

More South Korean snippets….

Everything apart from remote controls is in English and Korean though very few people speak English. Road signs, company names, information boards (but only the words information board oddly enough) and shop names.  Many foods are labelled in English too.  It’s really helpful but very odd to just see a few words of English on almost every thing. Go into coffee shops and they’ll list on a board Coffee, Smoothies and  Ade but that’s all, not what types they have.  Go to a supermarket and sections will be labelled Bakery, Fish, Meat etc.

They really like bridges. I mean they really really like them, almost as much as they like meat and fish.  If you need a bridge for a road then why not build one each way?  And use the old one for bikes,  then add another just for the hell of it, and maybe build a spare. And if you think you’ve got enough, then just build one half way across the river and put a glass platform on the end. There are thousands of them and many are absolutely gorgeous. I can’t remember going a day without seeing a new one being built. 

Road and rail building.  It’s a serious pastime here. I thank they just see a mountain and think, ooo, wouldn’t that look nice with a couple of tunnels in it and a railway and motorway.    I guess they build them to join all the new bridges up.  We’ve never seen so much infrastructure construction.

They love river side parks. Every town has a river and it has exercise machines,  pagodas, toilets sports field’s cycle paths, footpaths, flowers and benches all along it. Brilliant. 

In Europe the custom when seeing a tandem is to shout “Tandem” at us just in case we don’t know what we are riding and then shout “She’s not pedalling on the back” .  Well here it’s to go “Phwoar” in much the same way that Sid James did in all the Carry On films! That and then laugh like a hyena.  If you’re too young to understand this Google it.

You don’t cross a road unless you get a green light at a crossing. Honestly it doesn’t seem to matter if there are no cars, people are very patient and rule abiding.  Better take a book as the lights can take ages to change. 

People are surgical attached to their phone at birth.  It’s always in their hand and they often do their best to get run over by 250kg tandem on the cycle roads by wearing headphones and walking from Lane to Lane  when there’s a perfectly good footpath next to them all the time oblivious to the dinging of our bells.

People laugh and smile at you for no reason other than its nice. They slow down as they pass in cars, wind the window down and wave and take photos.  They thumbs up you as they cycle past, shout cool or “Nice to meet you” . They are extremely friendly, very happy and really nice.

The country has been designed by a teenager who loved his game boy too much.  Anything that can play a tune, beep, ding or have an LED does, lighswitches, door locks, toilets, lifts, garage doors etc, In fact I reckon any button at all  must by law have a noise and an led etc. And the tune almost always sounds like you’ve just leveled up in Sonic the Hegehog. If you’re too old to understand this don’t google it as it will only set you off on one about kids today…. 

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