60 km, 4 h 15 min
Our plan today was to get to Chungju, southeast of Seoul. Unfortunately, riding in the city in Korea is not the most pleasant (or quick) experience. Incheon is riddled with road construction, which added to the hellishness of today’s ride. We often found ourselves breathing in dirt and dust as big trucks passed us. Fortunately, the drivers were all great, either waiting behind us or passing us with lots of room to spare.
At one point, we needed to cross some water. We came to several large bridges. A group of Korean cyclists on mountain bikes rode by us, and we flagged one down to ask for a recommendation on how to cross the body of water. Unfortunately, their plan was to climb 3 flights of stairs with their bikes to access a pedestrian walkway on the highway over the bridge. That option did not really work for us, so the next recommendation was to ride over the bridge. We found that the Korean cyclist was not at all familiar with the map or able to point to where we actually were. This is the second time we have encountered local cyclists who can’t read the map – and this map was in Korean! They were able to confirm that we needed to cross the bridge that we saw above us, so we waited for a red light to give us a lead over the traffic, and hopped on. In the end, the experience was not bad. Cars gave us plenty of room, so no problem.
It took much longer than expected to get to anywhere – too many deviations to avoid highways and traffic, plus when we did get on a roll, we hit an exceptionally large number of red lights. Eventually we decided to stop in Suwon, a city of about 1 million people, just south of Seoul. We are navigating using a 2009 edition road atlas as we were not able to find a good GPS map. This is the third time we are navigating without the GPS (the first was in the US and the second was in southern Italy). It has pointed out to us just how much the GPS simplifies our lives, and we are definitely missing it.
Using our Lonely Planet as a guide, we found the neighbourhood in Suwon hosting a large number of “Love Motels”. Becky could not believe just how cheesy the area is. Scott had the first try at finding a room, but for some reason they would not allow him to see it. Becky walked down the street to a slightly less cheesy area and tried a hotel – the Shangri-la resort. The room was amazing – lots of space, shower and Jacuzzi tub, computer with Internet, 42 inch LCD TV, fridge, the necessary “Sterlet nano ultraviolet sterilizer” (useful for ensure the glasses and mugs are clean and, well, you can use your imagination for what else it may be used to clean), and of course a free condom too. All this for a 40,000 Won ($40 CAD), great value for tired cycle tourists.