Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cycling South Korea Jeju 2017

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Cycling South Korea Jeju 2017
South Korea (Jeju Island and Busan) : 24th March - 3rd April 2017

Cycling Route at Jeju Island:
Jeju City>43km>Sinchang-ri>56km>Jungmun>68km>Pyoseon>62km(inlcusive of ferry ride to Udo Island)>Gujwa-eup>52km>Jeju City.
(for more detailed routes see cycling routes at daily ride blogs).

Last June, we had a great adventure in South Korea, cycling from Seoul to Busan along the Namhanggang and Nakdonggang river trails that took us through beautiful rustic sceneries and bustling metropolian vibrancity (... click here to see that that adventure). That trip struck a chord in us and now we are back for another adventure. Seven of us went on a short cycling tour of South Korea's Jeju Island and a bit of Busan too. Our tour took us through the scenic coastal cycling trails of the island, and at Busan to view beautiful cherry blossoms. Jeju is quite a big island and the distance round the island is about 240 kilometres (with some slight detours we cycled more than this). Most of the routes were relatively flat but there was some pushing too as a few sections were across hills. We got to enjoy the good Korean food, met some interesting helpful people and colourful locals.
Sin (of the haPpY HapPy blogs)was the tour planner, researching the routes, places to go to, bus & train routes etc. He was the main navigator, marking out the GPS coordinates and using a Garmin Oregon 650 GPS unit to lead us along. Jo & Fenn added colour to the group with their lively laughs and their unique way of taking on the hard slopes. Our group include two newbies Zuyi and Lynne (my better half), to make it achievable for them our daily routes were short, around 50 to 60 kilometres. I must say that the newbies did relatively well for their first cycling tour. Joining us too was Sooi Ying who added her gay laughter to our team and beautiful jumps.
I was the assistant navigator with a similar Garmin Oregon 600 GPS unit, and also the biggest eater, walloping to finish the meals we had! Overall we were a good team, clicking well with each other, helping each other and enjoying each other's comradeship.
This blog comes in three parts, the first is on our daily rides, the second are related blogs such as food and travel sites, and the final section are tips on bike touring there.


RIDE BLOGS
Below are the blogs of our cycling tour, click on the respective photos to read. It was a good cycling tour, so come see our rides:











FOOD




ART



(Next... Europe?)

Sin's map of our proposed Jeju round island cycling route with possible hotel/home-stays in blue markers and places of interests in orange markers.

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RELATED BLOGS:








AT BUSAN






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CYCLING & TRAVEL TIPS FOR SOUTH KOREA

Here's, some general tips on cycling in South Korea, more detailed tips will be included in the day to day blogs:

1. Right is Right!
    South Korea's traffic is left-hand drive. For those coming from right-hand drive countries always do remember to ride on the right-hand side... i.e. Right is right! Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note that traffic is approaching from left! Sounds confusing, it actually isn't, just take while to get use to it.

2. South Korea Road & Traffic Conditions  
    Generally, the road conditions of the highways and main roads in South Korea are in excellent conditions with few pot-holes. Most towns have well planned dedicated cycling lanes or shared lanes. But cycling on highways is a no-no.
    Local motorists, especially the taxi-drivers, are an impatient lot and unless a zebra-crossing is signalised, most don't bother to stop to let pedestrians or cyclist pass. In fact at un-signalised crossings we had to slowly edge our way out to stop oncoming traffic in order to cross.
    Do watch out for the delivery motorcycles in the larger towns, most of these are huge bikes and they ride across zebra-crossing and onto pavements, disregarding the safety of pedestrians!

3. Cycling Route
    As Korea's traffic is left-hand drive, we took an anti-clockwise route around Jeju island so as to be on the seaward side for better views. We followed the cycling trails on the coastal edge of the island, which was fairly flat except for some climbs at the Mount Sanbang vincitnity. In Busan, we also followed the cycling trail as closely as possible but did take the Busan's Metro train once in a while to save some time.

4. Weather
    Even though it was early spring, the weather was surprisingly quite cold with day temperatures between 9C° to 15°C, and night temperatures at around 5°C. During colder days we had on wind breakers, inner thermals, face masks and beanie caps. There were drizzling rains on a few days; my light water-proofed windbreaker and raincoat pants from Sports Direct did come in handy.

5. Bringing Bikes Onto Korean Trains
    Full-sized bicycles are allowed onto the first and last coach of Korean trains on weekends or public holidays. Folding bikes are allowed onto the trains at any time and there was no neccesity to bag our bikes while on board. The fare for Busan's Metro is 1,300KRW for travel on a single line and 1,500KRW for multiple lines, there are no extra charges for bicycles.

6. Bringing Bikes Onto Planes
    Korean Airlines allows 20kg free checked in luggage inclusive of sports equipment (i.e. bicycles too) for domestic flights; anything beyond that is chargeable.
    Air Asia charges for checked in bicycles under sport equipment. If using light bike bags, 20kg should be adequate for the bike and the bag. However do weigh your bike together with the bag and book for slightly higher loads as the penalty for over-weight luggage can be quite high. We were all using light casing (Dimpa Bags with Impraboards) and booked 20kg for the going flight. For the return flight we booked 25kg as we were using a second Dimpa bag to hold our shopping stuff. For hard-case bags, double check the total weight and allow for more, generally 25kg should be adequate unless you are stuffing a lot of cloths into the bike bag. The airline allow two small bags as cabin luggage (click here fo the allowable dimensions) both should not weigh more than 7kg; they are quite strict on this policy, so to follow it closely.
    For Air Asia, book your tickets early for cheaper fares. Oddly for Korean Airlines, when some of us booked four months prior it cost us about MYR900/- for a return flight; while a friend who booked later (about 3 months prior to flight date) it cost her about MYR500/-.
    Web check-in for Korean Airlines domestic flights is maximum 48-hours prior to the flight. For Air Asia it's fourteen days.
    One last tip, simple but important. Ensure that you DO NOT carry your tool kits or any long/sharp metal objects in your hand luggage. Put your tool kit into your checked-in bike bags. I often seen friends forgetting about this, only to have their tools confiscated at the security checkpoints.

7. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    At the Busan's Gimhae International Airport pre-paid sim cards can be obtained from a couple of stalls at level 1. It's good to get the sim-cards at the airport stalls as there are staff there to help the unfamiliar (or non-techies) set up the sim cards for one's phones. Sim cards can also be obtained from larger outlets of the 24-hours convenience stores like 7-11, CU and GS25. See this link for more details.
    If not opting to get the data package, at some spots on the islands free open wifi is available, just use your phone to search for these.
    Save up each others local phone numbers once that is done. Create a chat group so that general communications can be broadcast, eg. where and when to meet to start the day.
    Alternatively, pocket wifis can be rented for use by a small group (usually up to five persons), and could end up cheaper. The only dis-advantage of this is that users must stay within 20-30 metres of the device. Pocket wifis can be obtain from Travel Recommends at the KLIA and KLIA2 airports in Malaysia. Pocket wifi can also be obtained in South Korea.

8. Communicating with Locals
    For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English). Most Koreans can hardly speak English, and learning some basic phrases will be helpful. When speaking to Koreans in English, they may initially seem stand-offish but after a while they did warm up to us.
    This could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations. We also had a list of destinations, accomodations, etc. with their Korean names just in case we had to show the locals.
    Memory-resident translation apps like Learn Korean by Wingsapp & Korean Flashcards by Bravolol were useful apps we used from Google Play Store are also useful; they give translations of basic terms.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule. It's good too to have these guides write the intended destinations in Korean so that one can show to other locals in order to get our bearings right.

9. Accommodations
    At Jeju, we did had difficulty finding accomodations. It was probably off-peak season and most guest-houses were closed; larger hotels were opened but were more costly, and there were very few cheaper motels around. To play it safe, we had pre-booked our first and last night stay at Mir Guesthouse in Jeju
    In Busan, in view that it could be peak season and to play it safe, we had pre-booked Dong Yang Motel but later found that there were many motels available at the Mandeong locality for between 30,000 to 40,000 wons per room per night. Weekend rates are about 10% higher.
    Do take note that rates for booking through online sites like Agoda.com, Booking.com or Hotels.com cost 10-20% more than walk-in rates. HotelsCombined. com provides comparative rates from all these sites.
    Other than that, for our other nights at Jeju Island we will be winging it and look for accommodations when we hit around 50 to 60 kilometres of cycling. We were not totally unprepared though, Sin had searched out several places along the way and marked them on our GPS units. Now we just had to keep our fingers crossed that they would be opened.
    When looking for motels,  just looked out for the "Motel" sign or the sign that has a television in the Korean characters 모텔If one can speak Korean, it could be possible to pre-book these motel rooms directly from the motels. Some do have e-mail contacts.
    For where we stayed on each day, refer to my daily blogs.

10. Food
    As if was off-season at Jeju, many food outlets were close but we did still manage to get some good food. Food is more costly on the island than on the mainland. A moderate cost between 10,000 to 15,000KRW per head. Jeju is renown for it's barbecued black pork, expect to pay more for this. Here's a run-down on some of the island's well know food:
- Black Pork (제주흑돼지/jeju heuk-doe-ji).
A tip here, try avoiding the Black Pork Street at Jeju City (that's a tip from the locals), it's more a place for foreigners and prices are touristy for moderate tasting pork.
- Oranges.
Jeju Hallabong Oranges (한라봉) are also renown, fresh ones can be found at speciality shops near the orchards on the hill sides.
- Strawberries
Jeju had juicy and sweet strawberries. The better and fresher ones are from the towns nearer the hills.
- Abalone
At most meals we were served fresh abalone that came in their shells, this were sweeter and more tender than the canned version that we were used to.
- Seafood
Jeju is renown for seafod. although relatively pricey, we did go for them once a while. We especially like their caramelised pan-fried mackerels.
    All towns have 24-hour convenience outlets such as 7-ElevenCU or GS-25 which offers a good range of pre-packed food. We especially like the pre-packed Bulgogi beef burgers, and also those fresh ones sold at Lotteria outlets.

11. Navigation
    Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty. We had pre-loaded the South Korean Map together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. These units are useful, but do study the proposed route made by the unit as sometimes these are longer loop around; OR sometimes there are parallel narrow lanes that can be used and these lanes can sometimes turn out to be more interesting.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    Surprisingly, in many parts of the country, Google Maps don't seem to work well for cycling or even walking - it seem to only propose routes that goes onto buses or trains! Do let me know if this feature has been upgraded.

12. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads with the relevant tools.


PLACES OF INTERESTS
Below are the points of interest that we had planned to visit (together with their GPS coords), we did manage to see some of them, others we had to miss due to lack of time. One section is allocated for places where one can view the cherry blossoms in Busan (we were lucky as we did get to see many beautiful ones) :

Jeju POIs:
Note: the mileage is in kilometres in an anti-clockwise direction from Mir Guesthouse in Jeju City.
1. Hyeopjae Beach (33.394245, 126.240150) km34
2. Hallim Park (33.390924, 126.238312) km34.3
3. Songaksan Mountain (33.199626, 126.290096) km70.5 (One of the loveliest)
4. Sangbangulsa Temple (33.236684, 126.313271) km75.1
5. Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls (33.250672, 126.416788) km89.4
6. Jungmun Beach ( 33.247532, 126.412728) km89.8
7. JusangjeolliCliffs (33.237763, 126.425097) km91
8. Oedolgae Rock (33.239064, 126.544596) km104.9
9. Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls (33.247215, 126.554691) km105.8
10. Lee Jung Seop Art Street (33.245594, 126.564438) km107.8
11. Jeongbang Waterfalls (33.244852, 126.571810) km108.7
12. SoesokkakEstuary (33.254881, 126.622579) km116
13. Jeju Folk Museum (33.322599, 126.842473) km144
14. Pyoseon Haevich Beach (33.327842, 126.837462) km145.5 (Huge beach, not many tourists, great place for seafood- highly recommended!)
15. SeongsanIlchulbong (33.462225, 126.937505) km172
16. Udo Island (33.492789, 126.951465) km173.7
17. WoljeongriBeach (33.555760, 126.796056) km198.4
18. Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach  (33.556890, 126.759615) km202.8
19. GimnyeongMaze Park (33.535993, 126.772227) off km200.4
20. ManjanggulCave (33.529943, 126.771405) off km200.4
21. HamdeokBeach (33.543343, 126.669850) km212.8
22. YongduamRock (Dragon Head Rock) (용두암) (33.516044, 126.511930) km235

Busan POIs:
1. Gamcheon Cultural Village (35.0984, 129.01011).
2. Jagalchi Fish Market (35.09673, 129.03048) -  Korea's largest seafood market.
3. Taejongdae Park (35.05306, 129.08723) - beautiful views of ocean cliffs.
4. Haeundae Beach (35.1587, 129.1604).
5. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (35.18833, 129.22319).
6. Beomeosa Temple (35.28404, 129.0687).

Busan Cherry Blossoms Sites:
1. Haeundae-Dalmaji Road (GPS: 35.16565, 129.19118 ) (From Jangsham Station take Bus 2 or 10 - GPS: 35.16933, 129.17542).
2. Oncheon Stream Park (GPS: 35.20098, 129.0791) (From Dongnae  Station - GPS: 35.20482, 129.07708).
3. Igidae Coastal Promenade (GPS: 35.12547, 129.11683) (Pukyong Univ. Station Exit 5 - GPS: 35.1376, 129.10053).
4. Mt. Hwangnyeong Ring Road (GPS: ) (Mt. Geumnyeon Station Exit 6 - GPS: 35.14988, 129.11101).
5. Samnak Park (GPS: 35.1535, 129.11877) (Mt. Geumnyeon Station Exit 5 and head to Gwangalli Beach - GPS: 35.14988, 129.11101).
6. Namcheon-dong Cherry Blossom Road (GPS: 35.14348, 129.11021) (Mt. Geumnyeon Station Exit 5 and head to Gwangalli Beach – (GPS: 35.14988, 129.11101).

7. Nakdongri Estuary Bank – 4 Rivers Cycling Path, this is one of the nicer places. The bank is well landscaped and the natural beauty brings out the best of the blossoms, and the good thing is that there are not many people or traffic around. (GPS: 35.107307, 128.948360).

Cherry Blossom locations website:


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