It was time for a holiday! Susanne’s family were visiting. Afterwards we would be cycling back to the farm where Susanne volunteered before, while Martin was in Denmark, and then we would cycle back to Seoul to arrange our visa for the next leg of our trip. Long story short: we did some holidaying, WWOOFing and cycling.
A postcard from the road receive a postcard from us 🙂
We really want to share our story, our journey with you. Now we can do this in a new dimension. We’ve thought about this for a while and got the chance to set it up. We cycle through many small towns and cities with their own story and often there is a postcard to be found. This postcard can be sent to you.
The time spent with Susanne’s mother and her partner were very special. It was strange seeing each other again after 17 months of travelling but very nice and quite emotional. We spent a few days in Seoul sightseeing major highlights, took a day tour to the Demilitarised Zone and Joint Security Area to ‘visit’ North Korea and enjoyed the traditional markets. We rented a car to drive to the east coast where we spent a few days near Gangneung at the beach, celebrated Susanne’s birthday with Korean BBQ, visited a fish market and temples in the area. As a last stop we made it to Gyeongju to visit kings tombs, traditional village in Hanok style and enjoy our stay just outside the city in nature.
It was very hard to say goodbye again. The time together gave us the opportunity to share how it is at home and our stories from the road in a more personal way, to feel each other and live with each other for a short period of time. It was very nice and definitely a great experience and important for all of us.
After saying goodbye in Icheon on the way to the airport, we took a bus back to our bicycles in Gangneung. We had missed Mojo and Isaba! We had arranged with our warm showers host to pick them up and directly made our way south along the coast where we camped on the beach. We were heading for the small village of Suyu-Myeon back to the organic pine tree farm. We were not as well prepared as usual so we were not very knowledgeable of the road ahead of us. We enjoyed one more beach camping spot the next night and then made our way into the mountains.
South Korean mountains are not very high but they can be quite steep. On most highways the Koreans made an effort to avoid these mountains by making tunnels. We have never seen as much tunnels as we have done in the car driving down these highways. But most smaller roads do not have these tunnels. So we were climbing up and cycling down many hills and we didn’t know how many more there would be coming.
We were cycling towards Pyeongchang, which we found out will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang does not look very impressive size wise but probably can provide all necessary sports venues in the area. We were lucky that the last two hills before this city did have tunnels, which meant we did not have to cycle up as far (although there still was some uphill).
The Korean rivers are beautiful. They are everywhere and often provide good places to sleep. We are very aware that we should not be sleeping in a riverbed. This is especially important if there are dams because if water is let through the water level can drastically increase which can be very dangerous. We do enjoy being in the vicinity of these rivers because it the air is fresh and often we can find a quiet place. Two nights we camped next to a river and luckily the water level did not rise although we did have some rain when we were in the tent.
The final day of cycling before reaching the farm was mostly downhill which was easy and quite pretty along a river, up a small hill and down to the village of Jucheon where we did some shopping before taking the turn to Suju-Myeon.
It was very nice to be back at the farm and we were welcomed with a big smile by Ajeossi.
We spent just over two weeks back at the farm. This time almost all of the pine trees had been moved (you can read about the moving of the pine trees here while Susanne was WWOOFing at the farm). So it was time for the next phase. The actual building of the straw bale mud brick house would start. We helped with: levelling the ground, making large bricks, making boxes as a cold for bricks, laying out foundation blocks, constructing first parts of wall, filling in gaps with mud plaster, and helping out in which way we could. Also we picked many many Bokboonja berries, a Korean raspberry of which they make an alcoholic juice, we picked Porisu berries, a Korean cherry, to make jam, weeded a field so sesame plants could be planted and we ate all the traditional Korean food that was made. Most of the times accompanied with veggies from the garden. The couples daughter was there this time so sometimes she could translate for us which made things more easy. Because we were with two this time and because Martin is quite technical we were active and ambitious to do quite a bit of work. Ajeossi, the man of the household was not always sure what to do with this active help but we think he appreciated it and together (also with other WWOOFer Jeremy) we got a lot of work done!
After two weeks of working we were eager to cycle on and get going again although it had been a nice and learning experience for us. We cycled away from the farm and calculated that we would make it to Seoul in 2,5 days.
The first day away from the farm we had made an ambitious route across a mountain where we were not sure if there was a road. Luckily we weren’t disappointed. We had noticed at the farm that rainy season had started, but usually rain would come at 17:00 or 18:00. On this day rain came at 14:00 and there was a lot of it! We hid underneath some tents for half an hour, continued on only to hide from the rain again in a bus stop a little further down the road. Finally the sky began to clear and we were on our way, steam evaporating from the road because it was still very warm. There was a road where we weren’t expecting it, the level of steepness was just enormous! it was definitely at least 14% over the length of a kilometre. It was tough on our legs and the bikes but we made it to the top. The road was beautifully quiet, the downhill was crazy, also because Susanne’s front brake had decided to leak and let go of its pressure. It was a very nice road to be on.
We had a nice and crazy downhill all the way down to where we met a river where we camped. We just had one slight uphill the next day and we were on the famous Four Rivers Cycling Path. The path along the Han river is mainly flat and mainly goes around villages and cities. We enjoyed the cycling. When we came closer to Seoul traffic started to increase and there were a few tourist spots along the river where it was very busy. People of all walks of life cycle on this path. Couples having fun (and being very dangerous) on playful tandems, people not in full control of their bikes, and then there are fast MTBers, fast tourers, folding bicycles and recreational bicyclists on expensive bikes. It is all about the image and the stuff you have. There were a few travellers bikes but not that many. Most Korean cyclist do everything to not be exposed to the sun, they wear masks and buffs that cover their face and look quite scary and very anonymous on the road. People looked at us with big eyes, especially because we were cycling up the few steep hills that were on the route and not walking up like they were on their light bikes 🙂
We slept at the Han river with the music of a nearby restaurant in the background. When we woke up we only had 30ish kilometres to do to be back in Itaewon. We took our time, had some breaks along the way, coincidentally met up with Tim who was on his bike and with whom we would be staying. We will spend a week in Seoul to arrange visa, research our route and get ready for China!