08 Sangjubo-Chilgok (78km)

After a night of camping we left with a simple snack for breakfast and continue the ride. We had taken 2 days to travel to Andong and ride back, making this trip even longer than the original Seoul-Busan route.

We stopped for a healthy second breakfast break by a bridge, and cut up one of our freshly plucked apples!

Lots of vegetables were growing all around us.

The cycle path varied, traversing small hilly areas then going back to the river.

Ethan’s front derailleur came loose. Fortunately he has bicycle mechanic Dad with him!

I picked out a small town in the distance which seemed to have a few restaurants and we headed that way.

We chances upon a beef restaurant, which in Korea looks like a butcher displaying their best cuts of meat. Instead of grilling our meat I decided this time to ask for beef bulgogi.

The dish reminded us of Mummy’s sukiyaki. Ethan enjoyed it, slurping up the emoji mushrooms.

We had covered a lot of kilometers but Ethan was still happy to get back in the bike every morning. I was watching for signs of mental or physical fatigue after back to back days of cycling but he seems to be okay.

The hills really took it out of him though! Hills are tough for anyone,

He says Daddy is very encouraging especially up those hills!

Ethan enjoys the scenery very much. Can follow behind me for a long time and I can hear him commenting or playing word games with himself! At other times we will ride side by side and talk with one another.

We passed a town called Gumi so we took a photo for Goo Ma in Singapore cos “Gumi” is what we call her!

We also spotted wildflowers and Ethan enjoys taking photos himself too.

At one rest stop we bought an interesting looking drink from the freezer. It was a vanilla milkshake which you squeeze and let melt a little. It’s quite good and Ethan looked out for it for the rest of the trip!

A long stretch of pathway was built over the water. The only name I know for this is “board walk” but it wasn’t just for walking but broader for shared use for cyclists and pedestrians.

Singapore could easily build these and add a canopy of creeper vines (which other places in Korea had) to provide shade.

It’s hard to see but in this booth along the cycle path were floor to ceiling shelves. It was a mini library along a cycle path. So cute!

At a nearby shop an interesting trailer and electric scooter combination were available to rent!

By 5pm the sun was casting orange hues. We had decided which town we were stopping at so we knew we would make it there easily before dark.

We stamped our passports then cycled a few kilometers more to our motel for the night.

We found a pork charcoal grill restaurant which turned out to be one of our favorite dinners of the whole trip. I enjoyed their meats and salads, but at first wondered why bone dry rice cakes were on the raw meat when it was given to us.

In turns out that you can roast them directly! I thought they needed water to become edible but they became fluffy and crispy just on the grill. Ethan absolutely loved them and we got more for free. They are much healthier than marshmallows!

07 Andong-Sangjubo (71km)

I thought today would be an easy downhill ride but it turned out tougher than I thought.

It was very cold but pretty when we left in the morning! Being slightly higher in the mountains, Andong was a bit cooler and you could appreciate the Korean waterway engineering that managed river flow and prevented flooding when beginning from the highlands.

It felt like a misty mountain path. I thought it was going to be mostly flat.

But we did have to ascend a bit.

There were tons of apple trees and Ethan stopped to pluck another two!

By now we’re quite high up and enjoyed a good view of the countryside.

We passed into some very rural roads and then I realized we were on the wrong side of the river. Though we were following the path I wanted to bring Ethan to Hahoe, the oldest village in Korea and a UNESCO Heritage site. My Garmin said go this way then “board ferry!”

I knew that in some rural places a small boat operator will ferry people across the small river that separated us from Hahoe so we decided to try. Almost there, we saw the promising signs of a few tour buses. Ethan said, “This one is the same as my Korea bus at home Dad!” so we stopped for a picture.

We locked our bikes to a tree and explored. A sandy path and a deserted “beach” did not look like it led to a ferry landing point, so I was getting a little worried.

However we soon spotted a boat coming from the other side!

It really was a tiny rickety boat!

The “jetty” was even more rickety!

What an adventure to ride our bikes across Korea, looking for the oldest town, then taking an old boat to visit it!

Yes, we were very thankful to be able to visit Hahoe…

It was a very pretty town, immaculately Leo.

Some people still lived here!

Ethan asked whether bringing electricity know the town would damage the old heritage buildings.

Ethan found a cafe that was many hundreds of years old!

“Look Dad, the Sor is just the right size for me!” I explained that people were shorter in those days due to not so good nutrition. Ethan “That means Moses was the same height as me!”

We found a super huge swing that Ethan almost went upside down on!

Finally we walked back to the boat, took the return ferry trip and climbed back on our bikes.

At a NongHyup shop, I stopped to see if they had Mylar emergency blankets to give me a bit more insulation under my mattress when we camped. In this tiny town, the bank and the shop were together in one store. The guys were very friendly, and asked Ethan about this cross-country cycling trip. When they didn’t have a foil blanket and found out we were camping they went to to the back and gave Ethan a “NongHyup” company jacket with a fleece lining! Thanks guys!

Lunch was a short distance away, with pork bone and vegetable soup to warm our souls.

We then hit the road laid down some miles.

The plan was to make it to a park, cook dinner and camp there.

We passed many persimmon trees that were growing wild as it was the season, and picked a few.

The mountains were backdrops to golden fields that were ripening for harvest.

Ethan was having a great ride and thoroughly enjoying himself.

At times, the river is silent and glassy.

The path led up a steep hill. One part was 20%, so steep that Ethan had trouble pushing his bike up! He made it most of the way and I went back and helped him a little.

We had almost made it to our intended destination when we passed an auto camp site that was closed, apparently for renovations. The facilities were all still there for simple users like ourselves and the location was jus too good!

Great toilets, a wooden deck, riverside views, benches, tables and WiFi for free! Ethan even found a special box with power sockets to recharge our devices.

That night I cooked “Stew under the Stars” and we had a great dinner together. We had a good P2P discussion in the tent, Ethan slept soundly while I wrapped myself in my extra fleece jacket!

06 Gyeongcheondae-Sangju-Andong (28km)

Today would be a slow day with a different type of schedule. We were making such good time that we would finish our Seoul-Busan ride too early.

So I planned a diversion to a branch of the trail to Andong. This was 80km one way so in order not to have to do it twice we biked to Chungju to find a bus that would take us to Andong.

As we packed our tents, Ethan noticed the small post box with another box full of postcards. Even more than the fact that there were free postcards, was that a pre-printed stamp was on them. We weren’t sure if it would go all the way to Singapore but we tried one!

The road out of Geongcheondae Park was steep and beautifully landscaped.

A heavy mist made the ride seem mysterious as we made our way to Sangjubo bus interchange.

We found the bus interchange and managed to buy 2 bus tickets for the 1.5 ride to Andong. Then we headed off to look for a light lunch.

We had just passed a Paris Baguette and we needed a nice place to chill for an hour so we chose yummy breads and had coffee and green tea latte.

Daddy even bought an extra green tea latte to go for Ethan. We loaded the bikes on the bus and off we went on a speedy trip to Andong.

From the bus terminal we still had to make our way to the far end of Andong where the stamp booth was.

It was longer and tougher than we thought, but there were some beautiful spots.

We passed a bright pink patch of wild grass and many people were taking pictures. It seemed like a lovers spot and this father-son pair sure do love one another!

Talia would like this picture! Many times during our travels we would honk of Talia and say she would like this or do that!

Andong was bigger than I thought and it took quite a while along the river in the city to find the certification booth at the end.

We found it and had great fun stamping as usual. The bike culture in Korea is so good with so many nice decorations being bicycles!

We parked our bikes and walked the long bridge with a sign that said it was the longest pedestrian only bridge in South Korea!

We sat halfway and enjoyed our freshly picked apple! Even on a bike trip Daddy slices and cores the apple nicely – no peeling of skins though!

Being a slightly bigger town we looked on TripAdvisor and picked a motel where for only $55 we got a huge excellent room.

It was very new, and the usual free and modern amenities that comes with Korean motels! This includes free DIY laundry machines which we now know how to use.

Walking out to find dinner we decided on a short rib beef barbecue place. In Korea the barbecue places specialize in one type of meat, unlike in Singapore where you can get beef, pork, chicken and even seafood at the same place. Even more, this place only did short rib!

Ethan and I love cooking our own meals at the table. The beef ended up costing more than I thought – 78,000 won which was our most expensive meal of the trip!

That night we did another P2P session. Ethan looks forward to it and it was really good to be talking father to son. The time and effort invested into this trip is so worthwhile!

05 Mungyeong-Gyeongcheondae (55km)

Today was to be more relaxed with an excursion to Korea’s famous “Rail Bike” attraction and a visit to an abandoned station with rail cars that had been converted to a motel!

One of the rail bike stations was in this same town we had stayed in last night, so we didn’t try it here. Instead we cycled onward to look for another rail bike further south.

We still explored the rail bike station as it was beautiful. Ethan loved the old station and the grounds.

This old station at Mungyeong was beautifully restored and very picturesque.

Ethan was so thankful I brought him to places like this.

We biked onward, enjoying the ever beautiful scenery including wooden cycling paths that extended over the river.

Mountains flanked our wake as we rolled by.

At this bridge we met a group of cyclists doing a bike tour with a young Korean guide. They were suitably impressed that young Ethan was going all the way to Busan without a local guide!

We enjoyed riding with them for a bit, then we continued while they stopped for a commentary.

The fields turned a golden colour which I think was the appearance of ripening barley.

Old train tracks followed us along. Ethan’s excitement grew in anticipation of the Rail Bike and all he could say was, “Train Train…”

We reached the stamping booth and a family of cats greeted us. They were starving so we fed them some bread snacks and thought of how Talia would have loved to see them.

Unfortunately the train hotel had not been in use for a long time, and worse was the fact that the rail bikes were not operating from this station either! Ethan was very disappointed and so was I, but I explained we could back track 2.5km as a previous station may be running the rail bikes.

It was so worthwhile to go back! I was so thankful we found a Rail Bike station in operation. Then I was worried after looking for it for so long that the rail bikes would be boring but they were truly excellent!

Tunnels were decorated with LED lights much to Ethan’s glee!

The best part was that these large 4 seater vehicles are electric and you have your own brakes. So it’s really like driving your own train! This was the closest Ethan has come to driving his own train and it is quite reasonably priced too!

We headed off after enjoying a coffee and a waffle. The memories of the Rail Bike warmed our hearts!

Soon we successfully reached the next certification booth and stamped our passports.

A Korean gentleman inquired about Ethan’s adventures and gave his thumbs up after seeing Ethan’s Seoul-Busan sign. It’s wonderfully encouraging meeting fellow cyclists along the way who love to see a young pre-teen enjoying his long distance ride!

We camped in Gyeongcheondae, which is one of the most picturesque parts of the entire Han River. Near the main entrance we used a large platform for the tent and it had incredible free facilities! There was an ultra modern bathroom for our use – with HOT water and hot air to dry your backside which Ethan loved!

Dinner was mac & cheese and sausages which Ethan declared, “This was the meal I have been waiting for!” But it wasn’t enough for hungry cyclists so I also fried up some Spam which we ate with rice! It was a delicious camping meal!

Warm in our tents, Ethan wrote me a “Caring Daddy Award”. I am very happy with my achievement to receive this coveted award!

ISTDY CARING AWARD 👍daddy has shown care to me , especially when I got cold last night . He really cares about be 24/7, even now, he is looking for my lost warm pants. I really love ❤ him and a believe he deserves it.

That night we listened to P2P and talked about our faith. Ethan understood about not just having Jesus as a friend but putting him in first place in his life as his Lord. I told him part of growing from a child to man is making his own personal commitment to follow Jesus not just because Mum and Dad say he must come to church. He wanted to do this and be sure so he made a personal commitment to following Jesus as his Lord that night!

I knew Ethan’s faith and understanding was growing so I took out from my bag a special surprise. Ethan’s eyes grew wide in anticipation. This was to be his first Holy Communion! I explained again, especially how from now on he would be in the main worship service with us and he would participate in Holy Communion.

I blessed the bread and cup, gave thanks and we ate and drank together. To say this was a special time after traveling across the country on bikes, talking about life and faith, and camping outdoors is an understatement. I am supremely thankful to Jesus for this magnificent milestone and precious time with my son!

04 Binaeseom-Mungyeong (81km)

 

Last night was cold! Ethan slept soundly through the night but I could feel the heat sleeping away from my body as our sleeping pads have no insulation and only he had my reflective bivvy. In the middle of the night I put on all of my clothes including 2 base layers and one cycling jersey. Finally, I was warm enough to sleep the rest of the night!

We managed to set off at 8.10am which was good considering I had to pack all the gear and the tent in the morning.

It was very cold at 7 deg C when we rode out. No wonder I was cold last night! We decided to leave quickly and search for breakfast along the way.

The terrain changed quickly but we couldn’t see far into the mist.

Still the riverside was beautiful and we enjoyed some picture spots. With the area getting rural, and my son’s tummy rumbling I decided that we should make a small detour off the bike path to get some food.

At a CU convenience store we bought some coffee and instant noodles. The warm soupy noodles really perks Ethan up. I pulled out leftovers from the huge lunch 2 days ago, pleased with my Daiso plastic boxes that I had carefully chosen in Singapore – eating bowls, food storage, nesting and heat safe! I heated my breakfast in the microwave but can also reheat it in a pot of water at campsite.

Cheered and fueled by that really good breakfast, it sealed the fact that CU was a favorite chain store so far! We biked onward knowing that today was a big day.

Ethan enjoyed more of his sour cream and onion “tacos”. That’s what these Korean snacks are called!

Soon it warmed up enough for Ethan to take off his fleece jacket.

I am quite pleased with his bike fit and how much he loves riding his bike! Sourcing for these 155mm cranks and changing stem lengths really helps junior riders. My saddlebag now fits his bike and he is carrying all his own clothes. If he was “credit card touring” and staying in motels without camping, he would be carrying all his own gear already!

We made it to the next checkpoint and stamped our passports!

The mountains and rivers accompanied us along the way. By now we were riding a mixture of low traffic roads and cycle paths.

Ethan said he likes riding in the city but even more so in the countryside!

We really enjoyed the autumn colours up close. Ethan can now ride for hours, with me guiding him to take short breaks and eat. He doesn’t need playgrounds anymore, though he still likes them once in a while!

We entered agricultural land with green and golden produce blanketing the ground. “Apples!” yelled Ethan!

By the side of the road, a lovely apple orchard displayed its wares. Wanting to glean a sample, we noticed that quite a few were hanging over the fence into public land. I figured this was okay, and Ethan gleefully plucked his first apple, fresh from a tree!

The cycle path made a very rare crossing of a 6 lane highway, but it had traffic lights and was very safe.

We had an absolutely superb lunch of pork belly and a truckload of side dishes. After cycling we can usually finish 2 adult sized portions. We sat on the floor on low tables, and Ethan felt so relaxed and full that after lunch he crawled to my side, lay down with his head on my lap and almost fell asleep! Bliss!

We rode onward, aiming for the next town where Naver told me that another hot spring bath awaited us.

The road climbed steadily, and when I checked my elevation maps I realized that this was Saejae Pass, the big climb of the ride. Oops…it wouldn’t be my first choice to put this in the second half of a long mileage day and with sunset approaching. This was my mistake but no turning back now!

There were nice rest stops up the hill and I shouted affirmation to Ethan much of the way up.

This elevation chart shows the 81km we did today so it’s quite a tough 81km! Elevation gain 832m and loss 734m. There were two big hills, and Ethan had to walk up some 10% grades on the first one but the second big hill he made it up!

By the time we made it to the top it was cold and dark. We had a quick rest then headed down the long descent with our lights on. It actually quite dark, but my Cycliq camera makes it look like dusk.

After that super fun descent we entered our hot springs “onsen” at around 7pm and relaxed together. I asked Ethan whether that ascent was the hardest physical thing he’s ever done. He thought for a while and said “Yes!” It certainly was a hard day of riding. What a tough young man! Good job son, I am proud of you!

After our warm bath (which we can’t show you pictures of) we found a pork bone soup! It wasn’t herbal like bak kut teh. it was huge and very delicious! This time we only ordered a single serving as we weren’t super hungry.

That night we found a cheap motel and did more of P2P. We are doing it very slowly, splitting up each session over two days and it’s very good that way. That night we talked a lot about peer pressure and used the play-do that I had been carrying around. Ethan learned that he would soon be pressured to do things he may think is wrong and he needs to decide now what he will do when the time comes. We had an excellent conversation!

03 Yangpyeong-Binaeseom (78km)

We finally managed to begin cycling at 8am, after I roused Ethan out of bed at 7.30am and gave him mini muffins and drinking yoghurt. The Korean snacks are good stuff!

It was very cold and misty as we left. No, that’s not a stamp booth. It really is a telephone booth and it was just outside our hotel!

A short boardwalk (but cycling allowed) led to a landscaped area called “health city”.

I suppose it was to encourage residents to be active and healthy. Many were out in the 7 deg C morning air!

We were definitely getting into rural areas, something which Ethan and I enjoy.

I spotted an amazing spider who perhaps had just finished his own breakfast.

We hit some fast and smooth sections. Again, this is not a road but a dedicated cycle path! Hooray for Korea’s cross country cycling infrastructure.

The autumn colours started showing, and we were rewarded with golden hues that surrounded us.

The foliage gave way to a amazing river views. It’s so nice to see Ethan enjoying the nature and the outdoors. I’m happy to be able to guide him to use his iPhone to record, write and share these experiences, not just play games!

Ethan got in a good groove, passing the kilometers, enjoying the scenery and looking forward to the next certification booth!

We found and stamped each of our passports!

This certification booth is at another weir, one of many that regulate Korea’s rivers. The Seoul-Busan cycle route did not cross it, but we went in search of a food stop.

Coffee and “holy bread”. Well that’s what I heard the Korean lady say and it was the only food I could get her to offer. It was good and kept us going.

We also charged all our devices as we expected to camp tonight, and Ethan enjoyed this old phone. “Look it is a real phone Daddy!”

Ethan was enjoying the ride thoroughly. You can see he is confident with his bike, but still playful with it! I wonder how his riding style will change in a few short years and whether as an older teenager he would still be interested in long rides with his Dad. I sure hope so.

A short break and a friendly guard took our photo. Everyone is very encouraging to see Ethan ride from Seoul to Busan!

At the same stop, a pair of dogs were being carried by their owner – a young Korean lady!

We ride along the river bank of a small town.

Ethan told me the blue line marks the cycle path we were following. I never noticed! He then said he was getting hungry for lunch so I started looking for real food.

We sure found real food at this place, and a lot of it! In Singapore we only see this many side dishes served at Korean BBQ places but this clearly wasn’t a BBQ restaurant. I said “two people,” and the lady asked me if I wanted “something something.” Of course I didn’t understand but I have learned to just nod and say “yes please” as many restaurants seem to serve “omakase” for whichever number of pax you have.

I think we ended up with the deluxe set cos it was so much. Delicious though, and not wanting to waste, I packed a lot of it away to cook up for dinner at our hopeful camp site.

After lunch we made our way through the town to find the bike path again. Ethan loves the Korean traffic crossing buttons as they have a satisfying mechanical click and whenever you press it, it acknowledges with a voice recording no matter how times you press it!

We passed a camp site that was buzzing with people. Hundreds of families were spotting huge tents, many were 2-3 bedroom tents with porch areas. Kids had brought their bikes and were zipping around.

After the park we gleefully stamped our next point in the passport.

Another lovely bridge led to an interesting way to get down…

The sign said 20% incline! You were not allowed to ride your bikes and small barriers were erected to force a dismount. I carried my trailer over and carefully stepped downward. Ethan also managed very well, carrying and handling his own bike.

Before the next town there were some short but steep includes of 8% which Ethan needed to stop a couple of times. We arrived in good time as I was looking for a camping spot and the map said something about a hot spring.

I was very excited to find a public bath! This was not a jimjilbang where you stay over night but was just like a Japanese onsen. We had a quick bite at the neighbouring cafe, and went in for $10/pax. Ahhh…the “onsen” was fabulous. We enjoyed ourselves for hours!

Warm and cozy afterwards we rested in the relaxation area. I had bundled Ethan in lots of clothes and we cycled just 200m to our already selected camping area. He did not want a motel even though our last one was so good! I had planned on camping anyway so it was good.

We found a nice spot in a city park and made up our cosy tent. This is actually my first time camping in a non-designated spot, but I had read up and knew that Korean culture was very accepting of such “free camping”.

Ethan had many layers on and and loved pulling the woolly cap over his eyes. It was too late for P2P so we will do that another day.

In addition to the 5 deg C sleeping bag, I had also brought my heat reflective bivvy bag and gave that to him. He slept almost immediately, entirely through the night! Good night son – this was yours and my first night “free camping”.

02 Seoul-Yangpyeong (65km)

Another late morning! We woke only at 8.30am and sauntered down to find breakfast.

A tiny cafe served us coffee, matcha latte, and a ham and cheese bagel which we shared then we were off!

We crossed many interesting bridges that moved us across the many waterways in Seoul.

The cycling infrastructure is excellent and it is really used by the people. I am especially impressed with the bridge crossings as huge pathways are dedications to pedestrians and cyclists to make the crossings as you can see in Ethan’s video.

It was a Saturday morning and there were many families and kids using the paths in the heart of Seoul. Other parts were quiet. It was a great mix!

The bike and pedestrian sharing etiquette is much better here than in Singapore. People stay on the correct paths and when someone does stray, no one seems too perturbed.

We made it to the the first certification point of the day. You have to check Naver Maps carefully to be sure you are on the right side of the river!

We enjoyed the crisp air at short break at each stamp booth, though we were still stamping on paper scraps as we didn’t have the actual cycle passport yet.

Cycling paths in mega cities like Seoul have huge structures all around them. It was very different to the Perth riding we did 2 years ago.

We took one elevator down a bridge and saw this cute car at the bottom. It was used by the waterway maintenance staff! So nice!

Slowly we left left the city centre and more green surrounded us.

Still the bridge crossings were marvelous, and these experiences would continue for the rest of the trip.

Going up and down these purpose built bridges is fun!

We were heading to a town that had an abandoned railway station. I didn’t know what to expect but even this busy intersection had such a superb bike crossing. There were many cyclists continually going up and down.

Finally we reached Neungnae stamp booth and the railway station. Not only did we get our stamp, we managed to get our passports but we forgot to take photos of the stamp booth! The cycle passports are really cool. I knew Ethan would love this but they look so good even I was having fun stamping at the checkpoints!

The old station was great but the entire town area was fantastic. The old railway line has been turned into the cycle path and tons of cyclists were zipping up and down.

What you see above is not a road but a cycle highway used by cyclists, pedestrians, and the occasional PMD. No cars at all!

Train paraphernalia abounded so here was a town with trains and cycling – just perfect for us!

Could you guess that someone loved it?

It’s really hard to order food without speaking Korean! But we managed to get pancakes and noodles and the pancake was superb!

Off we sped, passing through a series of tunnels. On the left were the new KTX bullet train tracks.

We were cycling on the old railway line that was converted to the cycling highway. Going through the old train tunnels that had been livened up with LED lights was super cool!

Ethan noticed my right trailer tire had gone flat! The Burley Travoy uses such an unusual tiny wheel that I didn’t have any inner tube spares, and needed to patch it instead. I stopped to try but the leak seemed simultaneously huge yet I couldn’t find it. I was stumped, but at least my trailer can still be pulled even with a flat tire so I continued riding it to the motel we were aiming for.

The recommended motel was better than expected. I knew it has floor to ceiling glass windows but didn’t know it had such a view of the river and grasslands. It was so nice, I let Ethan rest while I cycled off to buy dinner and bring it back.

I picked up some food from the convenience store and we did a little cooking at our coffee table. More things went wrong as my stove adaptor was leaking, but I managed to diagnose a loose seal and it was fixed with my mini-toolset. What a day for mechanical problems! Phew!

We enjoyed a simple meal that was super fun and hard-earned! After supper, I finally managed to figure out why I couldn’t fix my flat tire. Turns out, my pump was leaking so that’s why I couldn’t detect the small hole in the tire! Trouble-shoot the pump, then find the tiny hole in the tube, patch and glue, and it was ready to go…

After a long hot bath in the giant tub, Dad washed clothes then Ethan I listened to P2P. Ethan was a very good listener and we had s great time with the remainder of Session 1. For the puzzle time, instead of a jigsaw, I brought mini building blocks from Daiso. I built the fire truck using provided instructions while Ethan tried the police car without any instructions or pictures!

In the end I told him why…going through adolescence without a manual for life is really hard. The Bible is our manual and if we don’t have it, or don’t use it, then our life gets hard and it turns out in some other way that God didn’t originally intend!

Ethan fell asleep tired and very happy. It was 11pm and we are not managing to sleep early enough and starting late in the day. He seems to have plenty of energy though so perhaps we can do 75km tomorrow and maybe camp out near Chungju.