Sunday, May 20, 2018

Last stop

We moved to another hotel, the one that was booked ages ago together with the air tickets. A 14 km ride through only a small part of Seoul. The new hotel is nearly on the Han river bank. The route back to the river was completely flat, we simply rode round this awful hill.
On the last day of a bike tour like this there's always the challenge of how to pack the bikes. When we lack bicycle-boxes, like now, I usually use bubble wrap, preferably 1 meter wide and minumum 10 meters per bike. Where to buy such stuff? Jay told us that in summer this is nowhere for sale. In winter time Koreans buy it to stick it on their windows for extra insulation (winters are really cold here), so then shops have it, not now. But Jay had a solution! So what was the first thing that we saw when we entered the reception of the hotel? A big roll of bubble wrap standing among the suitcases against the wall. Jay had ordered it through the internet and had it delivered here! (Good idea, why not done that myself? Well, try this in Korea, not able to speak, read or write the national language!) Warmshowers friends are real friends, aren't they? So two hours later the bikes were packed and waiting for the transfer to the airport. 



Alas, this transfer will only be tomorrow afternoon, once the tour is over we feel like going home and this last day will be a long one. 
Finally some stats:
Cherry blossoms during the first weeks, other blossoms later. 
Spring time: erratic weather.
One month Japan: 996 kms, 7630 meters ascent.
One month South-Korea: 1133 kms, 9806 meters ascent.
Total 2129 kilometers, altogether we climbed to a virtual altitude of 17436 meters. 
Both are mountainous countries, reasonably heavy cycling.
Fantastic cycle-paths in Korea.
Very kind and helpful people, though in both countries language is a serious problem (very few people speak English).
Both countries are very much organized, Japan even more so than Korea,
A great feeling of security.



The last week

Daejon, that was a week ago.
Back on our bikes we rode north from Chungju towards Seoul. All the time along the Han river. Mostly very beautiful and the first days under beautiful weather conditions. Then again there were two rainy days. We didn't get very wet though, as it was heavily overcast with now and then heavy showers. Each time we could find shelter, once even under a roof of solar panels over the cycle path (this is a modern country!). 
The path goes, with the river, all through Seoul, a gigantic city. We were not lucky, we left the path too early, which resulted in unbelievably steep short climbs in the city in order to reach Toyoko-inn in down town. Walk and push, assisting Eveline pushing her bike up together. A case of bad preparations of myself, as down town is not high at all. I just chose a route over a steep hill. Do I have an excuse? Not really, I was lazy. I only used my Garmin, which is loaded with maps from OpenStreetMap. It doesn't show contour lines or profiles. I should have used Bikemap first, or another planner, which does give profiles with ascents and descents. Could have prevented a lot of sweating.


Once there, things were quickly forgotten and we spent some lovely days in Seoul, including a tour into DMZ (the Demilitarized Zone). 








Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meeting friends 2

A more than lovely weekend. 
We had organised our route in such a way that we would be not very far from Daejon, where our Warmshowers-friends Jay and Jenny live. Still we had to make a train ride of nearly two hours to reach them. Jay met us at the station, Jenny welcomed us in their nice and comfy appartment.


An evening together, then a totally rainy day with a walk in the forest, lunch with Jenny's parents in their home in the country, a visit to two art museums and a walk in the park.




The Sunday was sunny, we visited the traditional market near the station and had a long coffee in one of these many modern coffee joints. Then back to the train. 
This will most likely not be the last time we met.







Thursday, May 10, 2018

Meeting friends

As you may know we have an account with Warmshowers.org. This is an internet 'community' consisting of world-cyclists offering each other free lodging. We have hosted many cyclists from all over the world and we ourselves have been the guests of many hosts in many countries. And more often our hosts have later been our guests. Cyclists make friends very easily apparently. Tomorrow we will travel to Daejon and be the guests of Jay and Jenny. Last year they travelled through Europe on their bikes and stayed with us for one night. Now we will be their guests for two nights. Looking forward.



Language problems

Not being able to read anything, hardly able to find someone to have a conversation with or to ask for information. 
Today: After a beautiful ride from one river valley to another we have landed in a motel. Motel? The reception desk consists of a small sliding window at the height of my belly where a woman shows five fingers to indicate that the room will cost Won 50.000 (€ 40,--) and hands over the key after sliding the creditcard through the slot. No pin code or signature required, payment accepted. Rooms mostly are nice to very good. No breakfast or restaurant in the house, but free coffee, a water cooker, a computer, a tv, a fridge with some free drinks, free wifi, and 4 too small towels. A convenience store is never far.
Then, later, dinner time. The lady waves her hand in a certain direction. We don't like this restaurant: traditional Korean, low tables, guests squatting on the floor. We are not made for that, we cannot sit like that and eat without feeling pain, becoming stiff and falling over. After a while we see another possibility, could be a restaurant. We walk in and when I ask "Eat?" while making suggestive gestures the woman at the counter says "Chicken". We answer: "OK". Her next question is: "Beer?", pointing at a beer tap. Wow, a beer tap, the first time to have a draught beer after Nagasaki, a month ago. Another: "OK". That's the whole conversation. Two minutes later we both get 500 ml of cold beer, ten minutes later a big dish of deep fried pieces of chicken, battered, with a small cole-salad and some radish are put on the table. Chopsticks are in the box on the table, as well as paper tissues. So this is what we had ordered. You never know beforehand.
It's quite a job to eat all the chicken. After having finished we walk up to the counter and the lady presents us a calculator, digits showing 22.000 (€ 17,29). The creditcard slides through the slot, again no code or signature required, the ticket comes out and that's it. We call on the convenience store for a beer to take to our room, do some reading, blogging, whatsapping and then: bed-time.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pyeongchang 2018

A bit to our own surprise we passed one of the sites of the recent Olympic Wintergames. We knew we would come near Pyeongchang and for the last couple of days we noticed that roads had recently been renovated and are in pristine condition. And then, suddenly, there was the Jeongseong Alpine Center. Later inquiry made it clear to us that here the Super G, the downhill and the combination were held.
Now it was mainly a new but somewhat desolated place with some last snow left on the slopes.