Cycling Jeonkok to Cheondong (Seoul) on Lifeday 25,445

Warning elephant crossing

Monday 27th March 2017

What a foul weather day! I awoke to thick grey cloud and finished it in pouring icy rain 🙁

The going was also very varied from old broken roads which would compete with the worst in England to high-speed smooth very busy expressways with the cycle paths following a similar pattern.

Good use of mobility scooters

I stayed on the old road out of Jeonkok for as long as possible before hitting the incredibly busy 3 highway 🙁  after a few miles I turned off along the river by Anheungdong this road was unbearable and I was getting hungry I finally found an open bread shop in Dongducheon, a town that will never feature in any tourist brochure 🙁 Leaving on the 3 road again I finally spotted a cycle path alongside the river so down I went. Very grateful to leave the traffic behind at last. This track finished in Deokgyedong a far more upmarket place with a decent coffee shop 🙂 Then it was pounding down another busy road until just after Yangu station I spotted a bike path, pulling the bike across the verge and through a carpark. I zoomed down shortly meeting up with a magnificent path that took me all the way down to the main river 🙂

Four Rivers cycleway

I went through a small shower at the promised time of 2 pm but the 4 Rivers Path was on the other side of the main river so I had to do a huge U to find a bridge that cyclists could use. On the other side there were huge puddles 🙁 so I set off with a huge cloud following me. Near Bangi-Dong I checked the maps.me plugin (works offline) and discovered a nearby motel. I set it to find the route and set off. Too late the heavens opened, the iPhone7 is waterproof but the screen goes crazy with the rain drops 🙁 so I ended up all over the place, with much cursing, I was freezing.

I eventually found Hotel Murore a decent enough place the goodie bag is not as grand as the first night, obviously, folks here have shorter breaks. One disgusting feature is the heated toilet seat 🙁 I’ve unplugged it now.

Apart from the weather a good day although it has me thinking about the pros & cons of dedicated cycleways since down at the riverside you get to see so little of the city/country life.

Strava says I managed 55.6 miles  the day’s pics are here

 

 

S. Korea biking to Munsan on lifeday 25,443

Start of the 4 Rivers trail

After spending 24 hours in a windowless world yesterday (why does everyone shut the blinds on aeroplane) and OK 8 hours of which was stuck in Doha airport with no windows but it did have a 25 metre indoor pool if you remembered to put your costume in your carry on bag – I didn’t 🙁  I must also remember to carry a fine pen for filling in the 3 landing forms.

Arriving in Incheon airport I failed on both of my customary tasks when first arriving in a new country, both reflect rather badly on Korea. First job is to hit the ATM’s all my cards failed on all machines, I had revert to the expensive way of changing my £ notes 🙁 Next job was to get a SIM for my dongle or phone both failed miserably, all they want you to do is rent kit, tempting you with expensive unlimited data. Not much use when you aren’t returning to the airport! My worst experience of any country in the world. So much for hi-tech Korea!

I was picked up by Incheon Airport Best Guesthouse (using WeChat on the airport WiFi) so soon had my bike box in my room 10 floors up.

This morning I biked the  6 miles, all wrapped up, to Unseo station, on lovely cycle tracks, thinking I might spy some cash machines or phone stockists but to no avail, although I did procure a European plug to fit on my extension lead

The train was ultra smart, although it’s a steep climb up the 3 flights to the platform. 36 minutes later I arrived at Cheonga Int’l City Station and ready for the adventure.I rode around to the

Ara lock stamping box

I rode around to the Ara West Sea lock and bought a passport (nope the cash machines don’t work there either). There were loads of cyclists there today since it was a sunny Saturday. After stamping it at the first lock I was away 🙂 the cycle track is wide and really smooth, very easy to follow so no GPS required 🙂 Where the canal meets the river I left the 4 Rivers route to head north so I could visit the Dora Observatory. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the instructions Mark gave me (and no online maps) I somehow ended up in the wrong Paju 🙁 However, one good came out of this I found a huge supermarket with an array of ATM’s one of which finally behaved and released a pile of notes, but only with my Barclays account the others still failed to work. To celebrate I devoured two large scoops of very nutty ice cream.

Still the old ways

Once I realised my error, after chatting to a pair of MTB’ lads I decided to carry on North with the intention of starting The DMZ trail (interestingly I could see I was quite close by seeing the trail on the phone but with no maps). I was beginning to worry a bit when no hotels appeared and anyone I asked looked at me a bit weird 🙁 Eventually in Musan someone understood and pointed up at a huge building, The Royal Motel is up on the eighth floor and with the key you are given an interesting bag of goodies for those who are here for very short stays 😉

A lovely ride, although the cycle paths soon revert to the English variation with tree root bumps and disappearing.all the time once you leave the 4 rivers way.

Strava says 44.9 miles but there is an additional 6 to add at the start.

Pictures here

Portugal and a return to multi-day hiking on lifeday 25,430

Sally Kelly on GR13

Sally on the GR13

Sally decided that it was time for us to return to multi-day hiking 🙂 and go to somewhere warmer than the UK for her weeks holiday in March.

So yesterday we sat on the tarmac at Luton airport for the best part of 3 hours waiting for the Portugese flight controllers call to say we could depart to Faro. We eventually arrived at Faro airport at 8.30pm 🙁  having left home at 10.30am.

At Faro we had another wait for the taxi to Sagres, finally arriving at the Mareta View B&B at 10.30pm. We quickly dashed out for a rather excellent meal & wine at Mums Restaurant.

Today after a fantastic buffet breakfast we started our walk complete with rucksacks & poles my bag weighing in at 8kg. Once again mainly due to all my electronics.

The day was sunny but oh so so windy which bought the perceived temperature down to13 degrees, the scenery was superb especially with the crystal clear air and bright sunshine. The cliffs are stunning and the wild flowers very abundant. The walking surface was very varied with sand, ankle twisting rocks, tarmac & tracks.

We walked from  Sagres to the castle but refused the entrance fee so then headed to the lighthouse at the end of the world using a variety of tracks and on road walking. After the lighthouse we went along the cliffs to Praia do Telherio and then back on to the GR13 to Vila do Bispo and the highly rated Pure Flor de Esteva B&B for the night.

A good walk of over 14 miles and 1300 feet of ascent according to Strava made harder with the constant high winds in our face 🙁 The days pictures are here

We are still undecided as to which route to go tomorrow 🙁 the preferred inland route appears to suffer a lack of accommodation whereas the coastal route we will be walking into the high winds again.

 

A very enjoyable day around Bentota on LifeDay 25,414

Geoff Jones and crocodile

A nervous me with crocodile

The main reason for staying at the stupidly expensive Bentota Beach Hotel was so I could use their river cruise through the mangrove swamps. I opted for the one hour one as experience tells me I rapidly get bored sitting in a boat 🙂

It was just me and the guide, a young chap who spoke good English and had sharp eyes. So we quickly saw a lot of wildlife: herons, lizards, crocodiles come to mind. A nice tourist touch was pulling in and a guy with a baby crocodile stepping aboard so you could have a picture taken with it, me somewhat nervous of all those teeth.

My new found friend

In the afternoon after a decent swim in their 35 metre pool, the best feature of the hotel, I took myself of for a walk. The touts soon leave you after 50 metres of walking and I was soon on my own. On maps.me I spotted the Siri Sumansrama Temple (interesting that Apple use the name Siri for their digital assistant) so I headed over their. The place was deserted, its quite a modest temple but soon a monk came over and invited me in 🙂 He showed me around explaining why the Buddha is surrounded by Hindu figures and also the new Buddha statue they are making under the Serpents head. All very symbolic and interesting.

I was then invited into his house for a cuppa and cake, well I am a cyclist 🙂 Where he told me his story of becoming a monk when he was 9 and staying at this temple all the time and how he learnt such good English.

The subject soon turned to architecture the next thing I know we are in a Tuk Tuk to see the totally stunning former summer home of architect Geoffrey Bawa at Lunuganga. Wow totally amazing, he was obviously a keen arboriculturist as well the selection of trees was stunning! A gorgeous tall Teak at the entrance and then planted & trained  trees inside like Balsa, Ebony, Temple trees (Plumeria) and a lot more. The whole estate is cleverly designed to maximise the elevated position in a dog leg of the huge river. I just loved it and reminded me of Chris & I visit to Henry Moore’s old studio near Cambridge.  Totally incredible and many thanks to my new monk friend 🙂

A very interesting and enlightening day with loads more pics  here