Bicycle touring in South Korea is not just the “six rivers bike path”, if you followed our Korean bike trip travel journal you already know how much we fell in love with this country, its islands, and rough coastlines.
This article describes our last rides, hopping islands and peninsulas of the southern coast before getting to Busan. Here we found again some great spots we’ll never forget. Check out this area if you plan to a bicycle trip in South Korea.
To get out of the Goheung peninsula, we take a very busy avenue to Suncheon. Nothing to report from here, if not that this is a boring road.
We try to visit the Suncheon Bay Wetland Park*, but we don’t get further the parking lot. It looks like you must pay (about 8,000 won + 7,000 for a short boat trip) to see the rice fields, reeds and a wet area, very similar to those we’ve seen all over while bicycle touring South Korea. What’s unbelievable of tourist traps is that tourists fall in it.
Out of this I go one direction and Daniele the other so we lose each other. I go fast thinking he was far ahead and instead he was chasing me… It happens. There is a river with no bridge so to do those that would have been 900 meters as the crow flies, we cycle 15 more km.
Our secret wetland (Still in Suncheon bay though)
Finally we arrivee at the beginning of the Yeosu peninsula. Is late and we are tired, we cycled 90 stressful km. As often happens in this situation, when you least expect it, there appears a paradise.
A wooden platform surrounded by what was once the sea and is now expanse of red grass and pink flowers that, with the light of sunset, creates a breath taking view! One of the most beautiful places where we ever slept.
The platform where we sleep is used by photography enthusiasts who come here to portray these colors. At dawn a man comes, sings a song to the sea and walks away. A little later they come two photographers who want to photograph us, we pose with the bikes for them.
Under the red plants there’s a very special and complex eco-system, mud fish, weird insects and finally we see the crabs with single a giant claw.
This place will remain one of the highlight of our bicycle trip in South Korea. To see where it exactly is, just click on the first track of the map at the bottom of this article: the point where the track ends is this place. Go visit it!
Yeosu and its beaches
We try to follow a path along this wetland but it’s interrupted, so we get back to the main road, a violent climb. We arrive at the city of Yeosu, a fairly large city, about 300.00 inhabitants, that we cross looking for food and visiting the Expo site, where the “sea games” and “youth festival” will begin soon. On stage crew of kid dancers. There will also be an hologram show.
The beaches of Yeosu
In Yeosu area there are a few good beaches that we decide to explore, most are located north of the city, while a few more are in the small Dolsan island, connected by a bridge in the south.
Manseongni beach and its pebble sister
Let’s go to the nearby Manseongni beach first, hoping to find a campsite. The beach is designated as “black sand beach”, but the sand is more gray that black. It is crowded with people, you can swim only in a small fenced spot with the life jacket. Basically you can not swim.
So we go to the beach just next to it that is inexplicably deserted. Perhaps because it is pebbly and the water is deeper, Koreans are generally not very good swimmers. This doesn’t seem to have a name and swimming is not allowed because of the lack of lifeguards.
Just above it, there is a nice two-story concrete gazebo with a great view, couples of lovers coming looking for an intimate place and remain crestfallen when they find us with the tent.
We had a great sleep. Wake up and hit the road, we find the sandy beach just around the corner, behind a small hill. It’s called Mosageum beach, it has golden sand and much nicer water, needless to say, there are fences to impede you to get in deeper water. We take a swim anyway.
The road goes up and down as always, along the coast through pine trees, as we come to the third beach, our favorite. Sindeok beach is small but nice, surrounded by rocks and way less crowded than the other. We take a bath here too. Here there’s also a campground area.
Yeosu industrial area
After all this beauty the road takes us to the middle of the industrial area, there is something for all tastes. We’re entering an area of heavy manifacturing and oil refineries, the worst part of our bicycle tour in South Korea.
All around us is huge silos and chimneys, but after all we’re glad to see also this side of South Korea. It exists and mustn’t be ignored, thinking South Korea as all green countryside is just misleading.
We go on a giant bridge, is divided in two, in the middle it rests on an island which, unfortunately for it, was there. The second part of the bridge, that is about 4 km, is scary, strong wind, not much space for us and the cars go fast. Around us factories after factories. On the mainland the situation improves, there is a bike path. We stop to eat and Daniel takes the blood sausage, Korean specialty, called Sundae.
Finally released by the industrial “development” we resume to the waterfront that is muddy again and full of mud fish hunters, hermit crabs and don’t know what else. We get on another Island called Namhae do, connected by a bridge.
It’s the fifth largest island in South Korea, and apparently it even has some tourism. There is a beautiful road for bikes along the sea, we stop to sleep in a small garden. There are a lot of holes in the ground, we think there are moles and instead we see a lot of red crabs with big blue eyes. One eats a potato chip found on the ground and is very cute. Even here the crabs prefer the mainland .
We wake up with a red crab on the tent. Still promenade until the bridge that brings us again back to mainland. There are a lot of ponds for farming, moved by watermills, maybe shrimps? Along this last stratch, we see the fish traps placed at the points where the current is strong, a fishing tecnique typical of Namhae do. It’s called Jukbangryeom and practiced in the Jijok Strait of Namhae.
Mechanical breakdowns and bus to Busan
We meet a Korean cyclist, he’s about to leave for a trip to Europe by bike. He wants to invite us for lunch but in the meantime the Daniele’s bicycle breaks, seems to be the back wheel hub, the geared one, Sachs 3×7, it’s going to be a big trouble. Change of plans, we go to a mechanic.
He doesn’t understand anything about bikes, first he says that the problem is the chain for the only reason of it to be old, so instead of taking it out it breaks it with pincers! Then he says that the cause was not the chain, the crank arm, maybe because too old.
Let’s go eat with our friend while the mechanic thinks about it. On the way back, we conclude that the only thing to do is to completely replace the wheel, but in this city it’s impossible to find one of the right size (26 x 1 3/8), we have to go to Busan
The cyclist pays us the chain that now the mechanic has replaced, then takes us to a nearby beach where we can camp. Tomorrow we will take a bus to Busan.