Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cycling South Korea Jeju 2017: Day 9 - Beautiful Nakdong River Estuary

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Cycling South Korea Jeju 2017: Day 9 - A Beautiful Nakdong River Estuary
Tour of Busan, South Korea : Day 9 - 1st April 2017
Cycling Distance - 19.33km.     Level: Medium.

This is page 8 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.

Route Recommendations :
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.
    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!

2. 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.

3. Weather
Day 12°C | Night 6°C
Even though it was early spring, the weather was surprisingly quite cold. During colder days we had on wind breakers, inner thermals, face masks and beanie caps.

4. Places of Interest
Busan Port (GPS: 35.10318, 129.03779).
Jagalchi Market (부산 자갈치시장) (GPS: 35.0967, 129.03048).
- Busan Street Art at BIFF (GPS: 35.09871, 129.02758).
Seo-gu/Saha-gu Tunnel (GPS: 35.10705, 129.00845).
- Nakdong Estuary Eco-Center (낙동강하구에코센터) (GPS: 35.10718, 128.94827).
- Gwangbok-ro Arirang Street Market (광복로 아리랑 거리) (GPS:35.09976, 129.02947 ).
- Busan Station (부산역) Underground Shopping Centre (GPS: 35.11447, 129.03931).

5. Certification Stations:
These are certification centres for the optional Korea Cycling Passport:
Nakdonggang (GPS: 35.10889, 128.94846).

6. Food
- Breakfast @ 큰섬 Restaurant (GPS: 35.09756, 129.02958).
- Afternoon Tea @ Julie's Cafe in Arirang (GPS: 35.09982, 129.02981).
- Barbecued Pork Dinner @ Donenu (烤肉) Restaurant (GPS: 35.11745, 129.0392).

7. Accommodations
Our accommodations was at Dong Yang Motel (동양모텔) (GPS: 35.11338, 129.04057).
    Address: 1203-6 Choryang-dong, Dong-gu, Busan, South Korea.
    Tel:  +82 51-442-1248
    Email: bsmt8899@daum.net
    Reservations:  www.bsmt.co.kr
    Room Rates: 50,000KRW per night for deluxe rooms (inclusive of 10,000KRW surcharge)

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.
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PRELUDE

The previous day we had arrived in Busan from Jeju Island in the late afternoon. Short of time we could only do a short spin of the city. Today, we will have a chance to really explore the city and also beyond.
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THE RIDE

Cycling Route Around Busan : Dong Yang Motel>Busan Port>Jagalchi Market>Seo-gu/Saha-gu Tunnel>Nakdong Estuary Eco-Center>Arirang Street Market>Dong Yang Motel.
 The route will take us on some steep slopes across Busan City to the beautiful Nakdong River Estuary at Eulsukdo Island. The return trip was via the Metro train back to street markets in the city.

We had a task today: to ride over to the Nakdunggang Korea Four River Cycling Trail stamping station. In our 2016 cycling tour of Korea we had cycled partway along the Seoul-Busan cycling trails but had missed the Nakdonggang Station. Then we had started at the Ara Waterway in Seoul, where we had our first stamp; getting the Nakdonggang stamp will be a nice cap off for our Korea Cycling Passports as this is the end point of the Seoul to Busan cycling route.
We kicked off by riding over to Busan Port, in the day time this place was even more interesting. There were scenic views of boats moored at the port ...


Along the port area were cycling lanes that led to very wide promenades with beautiful street art - some where there to be admired while others like this depicted a bit of Busan's history. This one is of a Korean refugee family that had fled the ravages of the Korean War for a safe haven in Busan.

New artwork has cropped up since the last time we were here in 2016. This one of Koi swimming in a pond with water lily fronds was a huge one.


The girls at Busan Port with Gamcheon in the background.
From here too, is a picturisque view of the Gamcheon straddling the hillside on the other side of the bay. With Busan's population bursting to the seems during the Korean War, Gamcheon was where the war refugees found refuge, building hotch-potch houses along the narrow roads and alleys. Remarkably, these unplanned mish-mash of houses has turned the place into a colourful area; and it is now a tourist destination with the fine name of the Gamcheon Culture Village.


No visit to Busan is complete without dropping into the Jagalchi Fish Market. We had been here before - the place is so interestingly varied with unique seafood!


A Korean favourite, a live octupus spreading out its tentacles wide in defence "Don't come closer or else you are suckered!" The octopus is a Korean delicacy called San-nakji (산낙지); they are eaten life, with the tentacles still wriggling about... ughs!
(... see a video on eating life octupus, to see what I mean)

And alien-looking giant crabs!!


Strawberries in a fish market?
No, these are pineapples; but not of the land variety; it's the sea pineapple called meongge (멍게). I had seen these being eaten at street markets, thinking them to be fruit but after a visit here learnt that they are seafood which are sold live.


For me, the most grotesque ones were these "things" that looke like a cross between intestines and leeches. These are spoon worms (Gaebul 개불); and yup... you are right they are also eaten raw - chopped up and still squirmingly raw!


Time to erase those images of the gross food seen at the market... SEE it's time for breakfast. But somehow those yuckish images kept on filtering back and I had to steel my stomach to take the breakfast.
The tasty looking food did help; we were having steamed Gyoza dumplings (Woh Tip in Cantoese) which came accompanied by some Banchan. Soon we were digging in and Jagalchi's nasty looking food was a thing of the past.



What came with the starters were even better - bowls of pork soup indually serve to each of us in a small, black clay-pot. The warm soup was just what we needed to kick-start us for the later cold morning ride to the Nakdong River Estuary.


But first, a quick round of warm up riding round the BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) area at Gwangjang-ro; starting with views of colourful flowers in large granite pots...


... and then onwards to view the many street artwork that pepper this area. The above is a new one of small boys dressed in period Korean costumes playing trumpets as they marched along.


Most of the street art encourages visitors to interact with them with captions such as "Hug me", "Shake My Hand", etc.


And here's us adding our colour to the artsy street, colourful shoes in a circle.



9:45am - Time to start some serious cycling, time to head out for our the Nakdong River Estuary. Our route took us through the various built-up districts of Busan, starting from the Jung-gu District and getting steeper and steeper until we hit the tunnel at Seo-gu District.
Dang! How are we going to go through the tunnel with all the traffic, OR do we have to back-track and find another way?



Luckily for us, within the tunnel were pedestrian/cycling lanes that ran on a raised platform. It was quite an experience, cycling through the 400 metres long tunnel - the load roar of the vehicles made our hearts beat fast in anticipation.


After the tunnel it was rolling almost all the way down the roads at Saha-gu, unitl we hit the Nakdonggang Estuary Bank bridge. It's a beautiful bridge with weirs below it that eases out the water of the Andong Dam; and lions guard the entrances on each side of the bridge.


Over on the other side of the river is Eulsukdo Island (을숙도), a small island at the river mouth of the Nakdonggang River. Here is located a red telephone booth, the stamping place of the Four Rivers Nakdonggang Station. We eagerly stamped our passports, marking a milestone in our cycling career.


Mission accompolished, it's time to collect an unexpected bonus - here, the along the streets of the Nakdong River Estuary, cheery cheery trees lining both sides of the streets, and all were in full bloom!!


This is the first time most of us are viewing so many cherry blossoms in such a scenic boulevard, and the light traffic made it all the more pleasurable to cycle here!


Such a pretty sight!


We cycled back to Saha-gu and from the Hadan Station took the Metro back to Jagalchi and with a short ride we were at the Arirang Street Market. Here we had some hot red bean soup sold by an Ajumma from her street stall. At 3,000KRW per bowl it was served with some whitish things which we thought were bread crumps. After a while of being dipped in the soup, these expanded to become.... Mochi, soft and chewy.


The Ajumma was a very friendly lady and unlike most Korean ladies, she was not camera shy. Speaking to her in some basic Korean and sign language, I asked her her age. As I showed five fingers to mean fifty, she shook her head. Six fingers and she still shooked her head; seven fingers and she nodded and smiled abashedly. We just had to respect her, here she is at seventy and still running a stall in the cold weather. Most would be asleep in a warm bed.

Round the corner, we guys lingered around at a place called Julie's Cafe. We slowly sipped our coffee as the girls went to do their thing - shopping!


From Jagalchi it was by Metro to the Busan Station, where we alit at the undergroud shopping mall. It was my turn to do some shopping at a sports shop where the were selling some nice quick-dry caps at runaway prices.


Dinner was at Donenu Restaurant, a chain that sells very good barbecued pork and other accompanying dishes. We had been here on the last tour, liked it very much and are back!



Looks mouth-watering don't they?
HAPPY EATING!
TILL TOMORROW THEN...



A great YouTube video by our buddy Sin of our ride to the Nakdong River Estuary, and along the way Busan Port, Jagalchi Market too.

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