Yangsan to Busan (31 km by bike and 2 hours on the subway)
It is Buddha’s birthday today, a fitting end to our Korean cycle trip which we began on the anniversary of Paul’s accident in Italy. It has been really good to be back on our bikes on what has been the best cycle route of our trip! Kudos to the South Koreans for creating and maintaining such an impressive cycling infrastructure!
As we pedaled along the estuary of the Nakdong, the path became busier with road cyclists sporting the latest high tech gear, young men zipping by on scooters and segways, local cyclists and walkers, all out enjoying the national holiday. The calm of the countryside receded as we were soon surrounded by motorways, the riverside lined with tightly packed high rise apartments in the outskirts of South Korea’s second city.
We found the final certification centre at the Nakdonggang Estuary Weir. Although the cycle route is known as “Seoul to Busan” the end point of our 576 km ride was km 0! We savored the moment with a few other travellers, although in the busy plaza of the Nakdong River Cultural Centre, it was difficult to know how many, if any, of the other cyclists milling around had been on the cycle route.
While waiting for advice about how best to get through the city of Busan, we looked at an interesting exhibition there about the development of the flood defenses and the path. Though mostly in Korean, we did glean that the investment of 15 trillion KRW (18 billion CAD) had saved more than three times as much in flood damage prevention.
An official at the centre advised us that, as it was a holiday, bikes were allowed on the subway and that we should consider that option to reach our hotel in the Haeundae Beach area, approximately 30 kms. It took a couple of hours travelling, finding elevators and the right tracks and changing lines. Although the carriages were crowded at times, everyone was very polite and accepting of our bicycles and panniers. We met three English teachers on the train, including two from Canada!
On the way to dinner, we walked along the beach and past large sand sculptures, part of the Haeundae Sand Festival. Our meal at the tiny Italian restaurant, Lable, was exceptional. The restaurant is operated by two young Korean chefs, one who had trained in Sydney and Paris and the other in New Zealand.
We will stay in Busan close to the beach for a few days as we plan the next part of our journey.