Last summer my parents and I rode our bikes from Seoul to Busan, from the top to the bottom of South Korea. This was the longest bike trip we had ever planned. Here is my log of the trip, the photos are by my parents.
Day 1: Seoul to Yangsu
We got up at around 7am. I totally forgot about our trip riding from Seoul to Busan by bike but when I heard dad packing I remembered. I got ready and we rolled out. I felt pretty excited to get bike riding. We reached the bike path along the Han River where there was a big tale wind so we went really fast. We arrived at a hotel in Yangsu and stayed there. Yangsu was a nice natural green village with lots of willow trees and a nice big river. We ate dinner and went to the park that was just down the road from our hotel. Because the sun was setting, everything was golden like a well toasted hash brown.
Day 2 Riding from Yangsu to Daesin-myeon
I didn’t sleep very well because my bed was too hard in the hotel. We packed up and left late at 9:30am so it was getting hot already. We rode our bikes to the bike path that was just up the road from our hotel. Soon we passed two guys who were walking all the way to Busan. We stopped and talked to them for a while. Afterwards we wondered how long it would take to walk to Busan.
Later we rode through a tunnel that was very dark and cold – then we went through another and another and another and another! In total we went through 7 tunnels but the last one was still under construction so there was lots of smoke inside and I couldn’t breath properly. The weather was getting so hot that we had to go into a restaurant with air conditioning even though it was crappy food. My mum and dad liked it but I didn’t, so all I ate was rice and water. We kept going after we were refreshed and soon found a hotel to sleep in.
Day 3 Daesin-myeon to Jocheon-ri
We got up and had a huge Korean breakfast that was delicious. We had fermented bean soup, rice, and pickled catnip leaves (trust me, it tastes a lot better than it sounds!) I usually don’t like Korean food much but that restaurant was superb.
After breakfast we rode to the bike path. We covered some miles quickly but soon we discovered a big hill that was quite steep. It rained, then the sun came out and the water on the ground turned to steam so it was hard to see as we rode down the other side. The steam looked very evil like something from a horror movie and I was thinking that maybe dad who was riding behind me was going to turn into a vampire and jump on my back while I was riding – but luckily he didn’t.
After lunch we went over a bridge and we were on an island in the river. It was perfect for camping because it had lots and lots of grass, some toilets and a little shop where we could get basic supplies. Sadly, we had only ridden about 40km and so we couldn’t stop riding yet. We just had a break and kept going.
We went through some forest until we came to a restaurant where we got a snack because we were really exhausted. The nice woman made our snack of dumplings served with fresh tomatoes that we ate under a huge tree. We had our snack and while we were eating looked around for a sign that would tell that they had accommodation and yup! There was a hotel sign. We asked the woman in the shop if we could have a look at the minbak room – it was very nice but it was $50 a night, a bit expensive. So we asked if we could camp on the restaurant’s lawn and she said yes.
Day 4 Jocheon-ri to Chungju
We woke up really early. I slept really well in the tent but my parents didn’t. They said they froze there butts off because it was much colder than we’d expected – they were tired and grumpy. We rode around about 45km and arrived at a Chungju City. There were lots of really weird hotels but luckily we found one that was way nice and really cheap. Mum and I fell asleep at about 3pm in the afternoon and slept until dinnertime.
Day 5 Chungju to Jinan-ri
We got up and ate breakfast and while we were eating dad said there was probably going to be a lot of hills today. After riding for a little bit, we found an awesome swimming spot on the river with nice blue water but it also had ugly looking shops around it. Unfortunately there were loads of people there already and it was way too busy. We bought water and the hills weren’t too bad UNTIL we came across a really huge, BAD mountain that had miles of really steep climbing. It felt like we were riding for about four hours.
When we finally made it to the top, we went down the other side really fast, at around 40km an hour for about 50 minutes. The wind was blowing in my face and the scenery was going past so fast like it was a time lapse video. It was amazing. Soon I started to get cold from the wind, even though it was actually really hot that day.
Day 6 Jinan-ri to Samdoek-ri
We got up and went on with no breakfast because our hotel had nothing around it. We rode for 3km and arrived at a shop called OK Mart we stopped there and ate breakfast. We thought it was really funny because it was expensive and the food wasn’t great, it was just OK.
After breakfast we followed some cool country roads that led us to a boring bike path that made us bored out of our brains. It was all flat with endless building sites and rice fields. At that point my bum was really hurting. Then a REALLY big hill came. We had to walk up it but we could barely walk, let alone ride. We went past some glamping – fancy camping accommodation but it was $100 a night – we said NO. Soon we came to a cheap hotel and stayed there instead.
Day 7 Samdeok-ri to Gumi
When we got up but there were dark clouds and after we started riding it started raining. We put on rain jackets and waterproofed out stuff with plastic bags and kept riding. It was 11:50am so we stopped at a duck meat restaurant for lunch. The cheapest meal on the menu was $50! We changed our minds and kept riding. Next, just around the corner we found $10 Chinese restaurant. It was DELICIOUS. I had dumplings and my parents had fried pork with rice. That evening after a long ride, we came to a Gumi and found a really nice hotel that was only $40.
Day 8 Gumi to Daegu
We got up from our awesome hotel but because it was so nice we left at 10 o’clock instead of 9 o’clock because it was raining. The thing is, when we ride in the rain we seem to put down out heads and pedal hard because we just want to get to a hotel as soon as possible – that’s why my diary has been a bit boring. The rain felt cold and the headwind made the water come towards us and drip down the inside of our raincoats.
After a long, wet days ride we got to Daegu City and found a hotel. We turned on the television on and BAM! Terminator 2 was on! We didn’t even have to flip through the channels – it was already on the right channel. It was a very good sign. After we finished the movie mum found a Japanese restaurant on google maps but when we walked there, instead of a Japanese restaurant it was… McDonald’s!!! So we had McDonalds for dinner then we went back to the hotel. I thought, “This must be my LUCKY TOWN…”
Day 9 Rest Day
We decided to have a rest day because it was still raining. We lay on the bed and watched a movie until 11:30am and then went out to a traditional market to interview people for our film – on our last big ride we rode around Jeju Island and made a film. I translate in Korean for the interviews because my Korean is better than my parents. We ate a lot and stayed in the same hotel for another night.
Day 10 Daegu to Oseol-ri
We were happy to start riding again today. We went to McDonald’s for breakfast (AWESOME!) and then rode to the bike path. Everything was great until we came to a dead end. We had taken a wrong turn and had to make a choice – to go back 5km or keep going and go along a busy highway. We decided to go along the highway. We regretted that decision in about 5 min – there were trucks tearing past and smoke in our faces.
Eventually we escaped that road and reached the bike path again and found a convenience store for lunch. In the afternoon we came to a mountain and then on the other side we found a good place to camp. It was an abandoned park with an overgrown seating area. There was nobody around, but after we set up our tent, we saw a man walking down the path towards us. At first we thought we thought he was going to tell us off for camping but he went right past us and sat on the seat. We had a chat and then he left. Soon after that we went to bed and I started reading a book.
Not so fast! The guy we met earlier came back with a box of fried chicken for us! We had a small feast. His name was Kibaek and he worked at South Korea’s emergency services headquarters (they call it 119 for short) and he invited us for a tour of the 119 emergency services national head quarters the next morning. I was so excited!
Day 11 Oseol-ri to Jeokpo Bridge
We packed up the tent and went to the 119 headquarters. We met Kibaek there and he gave us a tour. First he showed us pictures of some of the past natural disasters that the staff had helped with. Then he showed us pictures of some of the accidents he’d been to help with. He introduced us to a dog expert who trained special dogs to find injured people in wrecked buildings – we even got to play with some of the dogs. Next we saw the giant 15 meter deep swimming pool where they practice scuba diving and jumping out of helicopters – I wanted to swim! Finally I got to sit in a helicopter, in the pilot’s seat. I still think that was one of my favorite days of my life. Thanks Kibaek!
Day 12 Joekpo Bridge to Namji-ri
The next morning it was rainy and windy. We continued our journey, hoping the weather would improve but it just got windier and rainier. After an hour or so, we came to a giant hill. I got grumpy because it was so long and seemed to go on for ever and ever. When I went down the other side I was relieved that the climb was finally over, so I went really fast.
The road was fine to ride on and there weren’t any cars but I thought maybe Mum would prefer me to ride on the bike path, so I slowed down and turned onto a concrete ramp to get back onto it. Unfortunately, the cement was painted red which made the surface slippery. My tires slipped and I fell on my side on the cement, sliding along the path for nearly a meter on my leg. I grazed my ankle and knee quite badly and had to lay down for 15 min.
I was worried I’d be hurt too badly and we would have to cancel the trip and go back to Seoul but luckily I was okay. Soon we kept riding. We had to go slowly because of my injuries, maybe 5km an hour. We finally made it to the hotel and it was a REALLY NICE hotel with a large, cosy, clean room and a comfy dry bed. It was so nice to stay there – it was almost worth riding in the rain (though maybe not worth the ankle injury).
Day 13 Namji-ri to Hanam-eup
We slept in and didn’t leave until 10 am.We went really FAST because we had a tale wind. It was a really good start. We stopped for a while to look at giant pond of lotuses and then kept going. My ankle soon started to hurt and then we came to a city called Hanam. From a distance it looked like a nice clean city and my ankle was REALLY hurting so we decided to stay there. Unfortunately, when we actually went into the city it was so dirty. There was lots of rubbish, creepy looking old people and the crappiest hotels we’d ever seen. We eventually found the best one. It was a little bit less crappy than the others but the floor was covered with dust and other peoples hair.
Day 14 Hanam-eup to Mulgeum-eup
I was still really tired. We saw lots of cool, giant trees and we ate lunch at a convenience store because we couldn’t find anything else. After lunch and I got a spider on me. I jumped off my bike while I was still moving – my bike went sideways and I screamed for a couple of seconds even though it was a tiny spider… so I was kind of embarrassed.
Day 15 Mulgeum-eup to Busan
Today we only had to go 20km to get to Busan!!! We took our time and before we knew it we were in Busan. We found the hotel district but all the hotels were expensive. We finally found a good one that wasn’t too expensive and we rested and went to an Indian restaurant for dinner as a reward. That evening we went to the beach but unfortunately it was too cold for swimming because of the wind. It was still nice to have made it to the sea though.
This was the longest bike trip I’ve ever been on and it was a big adventure. We rode over 600 km from Seoul to Busan by bike. We toured the 119 national emergency services headquarters, I had an accident and we did some great camping. It was a relief to get to Busan after such a long time riding. I learned that I should be more careful when I ride on wet roads and I learned to not judge people by first impressions. I also learned that I could ride much further on a bike than I thought.