As soon as I arrived in the port of Busan, everything went smoothly. One of the easiest entry into a country on my journey. Only the legal traffic was somewhat unknown to me. I drove almost 2 years through countries with left-hand traffic.
Prices are cheaper in South Korea than in Japan. So I was finally able to afford accommodation after 3 months on the street. In the hostel I was expected a surprise.
There had also been a solar trike driver. Thirty months ago, David started his adventure in Switzerland. He drove along the Silk Road and was stranded in South Korea d-t-b.ch. Now he is trying to get his vehicle to Southeast Asia, which is not so easy.
In addition, another cyclist from Manchester arrived. Matt cycled from England to Turkey and flew to Seoul. Of course we had a lot to talk about. Between our talks, I made some trips through Busan.
Busan is an international business and financial center. Since Busan was one of the few areas in Korea that was under the control of South Korea during the entire Korean War, it served for some time as the temporary capital of the Republic of Korea.
By chance, I discovered the Samgwangsa Temple. The Samgwangsa Temple falls under the Cheontae Order in Korean Buddhism. The temple is dedicated to the Gwanseeum bosal (Bodhisattva of Compassion). It was founded in 1983. I found the architecture enormously fascinating.
After a week, I had recovered enough and decided to continue cycling. Cycling is very popular in South Korea. Almost everywhere in the country there is a network of cycle paths. At the starting points you will receive a pass and a route ticket for 4'500.- won (about 3.50.- Euro).
Due to heavy traffic and narrow streets this is a great solution. It also encourages people to cycle. First I drove along the Nakdonggang.
Nakdonggang is the longest river in Korea. It owes its name to its role as the eastern border of the Gaya Confederacy during the time of the Three Kingdoms in Korea. The Nakdong River has played an important role in Korean history. The river basin is a popular place of residence as long as the Korean peninsula is inhabited.
On the way there are old phone booths. These serve as way post where you can collect stamps. So you can slowly fill your bike pass with stamps. These extension posts are usually placed next to a hydroelectric power station.
The bike paths usually run along the river, far from civilization. Many cyclists found this pretty monotonous. However, I have to contradict this statement. After 31 months on busy streets this was balm for my soul.
One drawback, though, was that I had to cook myself again because there was not a store on every corner. Wildcamping is not a problem in South Korea. Most of the time I stayed in a pavilion that the peasants used as a rest stop for their work in the field.
Most of the time there was just enough room for my tent and the bike. The nights were very cold (minus -5 ° C). Unfortunately, I'm not well prepared for such cold temperatures. In the morning, most of the landscape was covered with a hoarfrost.
The flat sections were really great for driving and mostly everything is well signposted. However, often only in Korean. Fortunately, there are many cyclists on the track who speak English pretty well.
The people of South Korea are very friendly and helpful. Every day, people gave me food and motivated me. That was also urgently needed, because the slopes in South Korea are not really funny.
Most of the way leads straight up the mountain and also steeply downhill. Almost like in Africa. Often I had to dismount and push my bike. A little upper body workout does not hurt either.
From the Nakdonggang River, I crossed the Saejae Mountain Path to the Namhangang River. The Namhangang River belongs mostly to South Korea. Its outflow in the Yellow Sea is a few nautical miles from North Korea.
The river serves as a source of water for over 12 million Koreans. From there it was not far to Seoul. Originally, I wanted to travel from Seoul to the East Coast to visit Jang, my companion in Zambia. Unfortunately the weather did not work that way.
In Seoul I found a nice guest house where I could relax for a few days and make new travel plans. The history of Seoul goes back more than two thousand years, when it was 18 BC. It was founded by the people of Baekje, one of the three kingdoms of Korea.
After some research, I decided to fly to Southeast Asia. The city center is approximately 65 km from Incheon Airport, which is located on an island. It took me a full day to get there by bike and stayed there overnight.
The next day everything went smoothly and I was once again surprised about the smooth running. South Korea impressed me from the first minute. Especially the bike network was great.
The people here are really sports enthusiasts. Their hospitality and their interest in other cultures is remarkable. For bicycle fanatics I can highly recommend this country. I will certainly come back here. A great Gamsahnida for all people in South Korea!