01 Incheon-Seoul (10+46km)

We slept like logs, rising only at 9.00am for a gloriously late start to the day. I was glad for the extra rest that would help mend Ethan’s cough and my sleep deprivation. Having risen at midnight to finish assembling the bikes and pack our gear, we were ready to roll in short order.

I bundled Ethan up extra warm for his first 10 deg C morning. He was a toasty rider!

His handlebar bag displays his goals for this trip – a lovely reminder for the days ahead. This would prove to be a great conversation starter in the days to come, especially given our limited (zero) Korean.

Before we could start we had to first find the official start point at Incheon which was 10km away. I missed a turn so the last part was a little confusing but we made it eventually!

A lovely cafe in a spanking new building marked the start so we shared a coffee before beginning the ride.

At the start we wanted to get the cycle passports and collect stamps along the way but the passports were sold out! How disappointing!

We had to settle for ordinary slips of paper for the first few stamps. Each certification booth looks like a red English phone booth, and you stamp these along the way. Hopefully at the next certification centre we can buy a passport and get the stamps transferred.

We are ready roll – 0km of 633km! So exciting!

Scores of pop-up bike shops dotted the bike path and many Koreans were out cycling during the day on a Friday. Some of the shops had bike work-stands and tools, with many operating out of a van and old men chatting around them!

Our first playground stop reminded us of Australia where did many of such stops during our Perth ride when the kids were 2 years younger.

“Dad they don’t have these in Singapore playgrounds!” My son is becoming a young man, but he still loves playgrounds! Never lose the joy of playing, son!

We started getting hungry and ate lunch at a simple stop. Noodles and spicy rice cakes kept us going. The lady who ran the cafe was super nice to us!

We found our next phone booth and happily collected another stamp. I knew Ethan would love this cross-country treasure hunt and stamp activity!

The bike path opened up to some longer stretches. The city bike paths were beautiful and very popular.

We cycled along the riverside passing occasional glass elevators that rose to pedestrian and cycle bridges that spanned the highways. Ascending one skyward, we were treated to a great view of the city as we watched the cyclists far below.

We even spotted Yoido Full Gospel Church in the distance and I remembered visiting here when I came on my Beeson post-graduation study trip 6 years ago.

We thought we couldn’t find Yeouido stamp booth and had given up all hope, but then the signs appeared out of nowhere. We both yelled being super pleased to spot it towards the end of the day!

Searching for our first jimjilbang – Dragon Hill Spa – I burst out laughing when I saw how gaudy it was! But it was closed for renovations for the week, which means it should be newer and better when we are back in Seoul!

We trooped off to find another motel. Sky Motel looked promising but we were shooed away by a grumpy lady who felt that bikes did not befit her rooms. Next door Apple Motel welcomes us warmly for $60/night.

We strolled around until we spotted a dinner place that was packed and were glad that it was only a 5-10 min wait. I didn’t know what would come but it turns out that everyone gets the same main dish which is this huge stir sizzling pan of chicken, vegetables, potatoes and rice cakes!

The waiters guide you but you also have to stir it yourself! Ethan is happy eating almost anything except prawns and crabs, and he’s game to try most foods so it’s a joy to travel and explore with him.

I tried shoju, but only drank a third of the bottle when I discovered it was 20% alcohol! I gave the remainder to our neighbouring table. It was nice though!

After dinner we stopped at the convenience store to buy a gas canister for future camp cooking, and this superb green tea ice-cream to share!

After a hot shower we snuggled up in bed and listened to the first session of P2P (Passport to Purity) – really good audio and book material for a parent to do with their pre-teen son/daughter. Ethan liked the first session and we will do more tomorrow. P2P is usually done over a weekend retreat but we are doing it slower over this 2 week journey so the 5 sessions are stretched out and it’s even better this way! The journey and map metaphor that P2P uses is even more powerful when you do this on bike tour!

Good night son! Let’s set the alarm earlier for tomorrow morning. We have about 65km to Yangpyeong if we don’t get lost along the way. Fortunately we have a map and Daddy is your guide, and Jesus is your GPS!

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