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Tour-de-Korea 2024

Old 04-22-24, 09:01 PM
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Tour-de-Korea 2024

Got my ticket for $225 one-way from Bali. Will arrive on the scene in early May.
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What's the plan? To cycle Joellanam-do, the province and its islands at the southwest tip of the country, starting in Gwanju which has direct bus service from Incheon airport. Most likely I'll fly out of Busan or Fukuoka, Japan.
.



Last edited by Ron Damon; 04-22-24 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 04-23-24, 01:55 PM
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I'm going to be in arriving in Bali in three days. Currently riding through East Java. Any recommendations for activities?
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Old 04-23-24, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
I'm going to be in arriving in Bali in three days. Currently riding through East Java. Any recommendations for activities?
In East Java, make you sure you take in the Bromo volcanic complex east of Malang, the Raung-Kawah Ijen volcanic complex and perhaps the Majapahit era archeological zone in Blitar. As you arrive in Bali at Gilimanuk, you can continue eastwards along the northern or southern route. On the northern route, there's Menjengan island. On the southern coast in Negara, there are Christian communities whose churches are bult in Balinese architectural style. Those may be of cultural interest. There's also a huge reservoir there.

Bali may disappoint you. It's not what it was even a decade ago. I'd cycle in Sumba, Flores, Rote and Timor islands instead, but there are very few services and modcons there.
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Old 04-23-24, 04:56 PM
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[QUOTE=Ron Damon;23221925]
Bali may disappoint you. It's not what it was even a decade ago. I'd cycle in Sumba, Flores, Rote and Timor islands instead, but there are very few services and modcons ther

I did not cycle in Bali.

In 2022 I spent a little over a week and a half in East Timor including cycling across Indonesia to the Oecusse enclave. On the way back we had a 36-hour stopover in Bali where we hired a car + driver to quickly reach a few tourist high points (e.g. monkey sanctuary, rice terraces). The population density of Bali is 750/km2 and the density of Timor is 90/km2. The parts of Bali we saw were likely the most crowded areas including long lines of traffic on small roads. I am sure there are nicer parts further away from Denpasar. If I were to go back to cycle, I would be motivated to escape the populated south.
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Old 04-23-24, 06:22 PM
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[QUOTE=mev;23221982]
Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Bali may disappoint you. It's not what it was even a decade ago. I'd cycle in Sumba, Flores, Rote and Timor islands instead, but there are very few services and modcons ther

I did not cycle in Bali.

In 2022 I spent a little over a week and a half in East Timor including cycling across Indonesia to the Oecusse enclave. On the way back we had a 36-hour stopover in Bali where we hired a car + driver to quickly reach a few tourist high points (e.g. monkey sanctuary, rice terraces). The population density of Bali is 750/km2 and the density of Timor is 90/km2. The parts of Bali we saw were likely the most crowded areas including long lines of traffic on small roads. I am sure there are nicer parts further away from Denpasar. If I were to go back to cycle, I would be motivated to escape the populated south.
I originally came to SEAsia where I've now lived for over two decades in January 2001 to work for the UN in East Timor. I managed to visit Oecussi (and all other districts) for work related matters twice. DId you know that the Netherlands offered Portugal to swap territory in order to eliminate the enclave of Oecussi? Portugal's rebuffed the offer by saying that Oecussi was no more an enclave than Belgium. Ergo, due to Portuguese intransigence, this geographical curio remains. In any case, Oecussi was the site of the original Portuguese settlement, Lifau, on Timor. The whole show was evacuated to Dili in the 18th century during one the many sieges that the enclave endured during its inglorious history. Normally, Macau used to come to Lifau's rescue, but by the 18th century, Macau was broke so it couldn't save Lifau. The maritime history of SEAsia in the 17-18 centuries is fascinating.

Oecusse now has more connections, including land one. Back in the day when I was there, the only way in and out was by flying.

That's right. Bali is densely populated even without a single tourist. It's the eastern tail of that very dense pattern of human settlement that starts at the eastern tip of Sumatra, extends through even more dense Java and ends in Bali. Once you cross to eastern Lombok, and certainly Sumbawa, the population density drops precipitously.

There are two monkey sanctuaries. Tourists will go to the overcrowded one in Ubud, bypassing the more impressive, tranquil one in Sangeh, the original one, actually.

There are still many gorgeous places in Bali, but they are not where most tourists go or in the south of the island. It is my belief, based on living here for two decades that we are now beyond Peak Bali.


I ain't sayin' where places like these are lest they be destroyed even sooner.

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Old 04-23-24, 07:09 PM
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[QUOTE=Ron Damon;23222049]
Originally Posted by mev
I originally came to SEAsia where I've now lived for over two decades in January 2001 to work for the UN in East Timor. I managed to visit Oecussi (and all other districts) for work related matters twice. ... Back in the day when I was there, the only way in and out was by flying.
I spent eight months cycling Australia from May 2001 to December. East Timor was in the local news including Australian and UN deployments, particularly apparent as I came through Darwin. It took a while but this is among the reasons I wanted to come back to the area to see East Timor.

In 2022, tourists were still enough of a rarity in East Timor that one of the most common questions was "what project are you working on". There was still a weird structure with a few expensive hotels and just a few inexpensive budget hotels and not much at all outside Dili other than homestay/hostel used by locals. Presumably the lodgings in shipping containers has stopped. However, unlike some other countries with heavy UN/NGO presence (Cambodia, Ethiopia) that I have cycled it seemed more forgotten than overdone.

The land border crossings to Oecussi were still not much used.
- Crossing from Indonesia into Oecussi from the east we were enough of a curiosity that the border security specifically wanted to pose with us cycle tourists for selfies
- Crossing from Dili side into Indonesia, we had a two hour gap mid-day while the border was closed. If we had come via bus, there would have been one bus from Dili and a different bus on to Kupang
- The southern border crossing from Oecussi to Indonesia had closed for Covid-19 and had not reopened

We returned to Dili using the overnight ferry which went twice per week. Again enough of a curiosity that one of the crew members saw an opportunity and approached us to rent out his cabin (but we weren't allowed to leave it and call attention). The ferry was used by locals and a few of them with livestock.

I will be curious to see more of West Timor and otherwise can recommend East Timor as an interesting cycle touring destination.
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Old 04-23-24, 07:23 PM
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[QUOTE=mev;23222100]
Originally Posted by Ron Damon

I spent eight months cycling Australia from May 2001 to December. East Timor was in the local news including Australian and UN deployments, particularly apparent as I came through Darwin. It took a while but this is among the reasons I wanted to come back to the area to see East Timor.

In 2022, tourists were still enough of a rarity in East Timor that one of the most common questions was "what project are you working on". There was still a weird structure with a few expensive hotels and just a few inexpensive budget hotels and not much at all outside Dili other than homestay/hostel used by locals. Presumably the lodgings in shipping containers has stopped. However, unlike some other countries with heavy UN/NGO presence (Cambodia, Ethiopia) that I have cycled it seemed more forgotten than overdone.

The land border crossings to Oecussi were still not much used.
- Crossing from Indonesia into Oecussi from the east we were enough of a curiosity that the border security specifically wanted to pose with us cycle tourists for selfies
- Crossing from Dili side into Indonesia, we had a two hour gap mid-day while the border was closed. If we had come via bus, there would have been one bus from Dili and a different bus on to Kupang
- The southern border crossing from Oecussi to Indonesia had closed for Covid-19 and had not reopened

We returned to Dili using the overnight ferry which went twice per week. Again enough of a curiosity that one of the crew members saw an opportunity and approached us to rent out his cabin (but we weren't allowed to leave it and call attention). The ferry was used by locals and a few of them with livestock.

I will be curious to see more of West Timor and otherwise can recommend East Timor as an interesting cycle touring destination.
Darwin, ah yes. There are a hundred ways to leave your lover, but back in the day, there were only two ways in and out of East Timor. Bali with the now defunct Merpati carrier and Darwin on UN military transport. I passed through Darwin as all UN staff did. The UN booked me at the Don Hotel, with an attached bottle shop and strip joint. A class act.

Forgotten, yes. Forgotten due to 9/11. The Twin Towers were still smouldering and the UN was already looking to relocate to Afghanistan. We weren't finished yet we were already being recruited for posts in Kabul, Kunduz, Kandahar, etc. Seems like yesterday. I went back to Timor for a second tour of duty in 2006-2007. I was teargassed and evacuated within a couple of months of arrival when the country went to the brink of civil war.

The other factor as to why TL feels forgotten is that the Timorese themselves wanted it that way to a certain extent. After centuries having to deal with foreigners - with Malay, the Timorese term in Tetum for outsider - they wanted finally to be able to govern the country by themselves. Can't say I blame them. A former colleague, Gordon Peake, wrote a book about TL about eight years ago. I recommend it. Timor-Leste's history is remarkable, but it faces two looming crises. One is that the oil money that has sustained it will run out. Two, its exploding population. Fascinating place for sure.

All of this should explain why I chose the tour and vacation in more stable, developed places.

Last edited by Ron Damon; 04-24-24 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 05-02-24, 05:42 AM
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Day 0

Arrived in Incheon.


Checking in at Ngurah Rai airport in Bali

Picked up my SIM card which I had ordered and paid for the week earlier. This is the second time I use this online seller. Pick up is smooth and quick at the SK Telecom counter. Recommended.



Changed money. Got KRW1335 to the USD.

Bought my bus ticket to Gwangju. Easy peasy with these machines. Note though that my international, US credit card was not accepted but my Indonesian debit card was.





Tickets can be bought at a regular counter too.



Waiting lounge
​​​​​


Forty bucks for the four hour haul on premium-class bus.



​​​​​There are destinations to all points in the country departing right from Terminal 1. No need to pass through Seoul at all.

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Old 05-03-24, 06:01 PM
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Day 1, warm up ride around Gwangju

Rode to Jangseong Reservoir from Gwangju along the bike path. Then instead of returning the way I came, I jumped on Rt.898 southwards back to Gwangju. On the way back, I passed through a nice hard pack, bamboo grove. Oh, yeah, there's a mutha' of a climb, only to 400masl, but feck, in a short span, making for serious inclines, on Rt. 898. All in all, about 85km.




Bamboo grove gravelin'


Absolutely lovely spot in the middle of an river island connected by a causeway. Perfect spot for lunch




Along Rt.898






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Old 05-04-24, 05:45 PM
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Day 2

Rode to/from the entrance of Mudeungsan UNESCO Global Eco Park and visited the Jeungsimsa temple complex on the lower slopes.


Very smooth surface in this bike path.




Silla-period bronze Buddha








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Old 05-06-24, 04:41 AM
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Day 4, Gwanju to Mokpo


















~ 85km

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Old 05-07-24, 05:08 AM
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Day 5, Mokpo





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Old 05-07-24, 09:09 AM
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we have friends biking in Korea presently, and the photos and comments from them showing the incredible cycling path infrastructure is quite amazing.
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Old 05-08-24, 01:57 AM
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Day 6, Mokpo to Haenam



















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Old 05-10-24, 02:45 AM
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Day 7, Haenam to Gangjin via Daeheungsa Temple




















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Old 05-10-24, 07:53 AM
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How far are you riding each day?
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Old 05-10-24, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by force10
How far are you riding each day?
Of all the interesting and logistical questions that could be asked about touring in the South Korea!
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Old 05-10-24, 08:35 PM
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Lovely photos. The cycling infrastructure looks more developed than here in Japan. Ideal for credit card touring. Are you recording your rides on Strava or elsewhere? I'd like to follow along if that's ok.
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Old 05-11-24, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Kabuto
Lovely photos. The cycling infrastructure looks more developed than here in Japan. Ideal for credit card touring. Are you recording your rides on Strava or elsewhere? I'd like to follow along if that's ok.
Hi, bro, thanks. Though I've been to Japan and will return next month, I have never cycled in Nippon so I can't say which country has more developed cycling infrastructure. What I can say, based on now three tours in the ROK, is that it's a very convenient, safe and accesible place for staying on the official bike paths or striking out on secondary regular roads. In the Deep South, in Jeollanam province, traffic is very sparse and there's a lot of extremely quiet, bucolic even tertiary farming roads. I love them cuz there's hardly anyone there save for farmers farming, zero cyclists and zero tourists.


Typical tertiary farm road. Empty, zero traffic and very chill. The Real Rural Korea.

Sorry, I don't track routes anywhere but in my head. Happy to share what I know and the routes I've covered.

If you are in Japan, there are daily shuttle ferry service between Fukuoka or Osaka to/from Busan.
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Old 05-11-24, 04:11 PM
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Day 9, Goheung to Nokdong daytrip




Goheung bay embankment












Dorok-so bridge

Scenes along the farm roads. Loading and planting paddy



It's getting easier and quicker to buy bus tickets as these machines appear even at smaller bus stations.

​​​​​​

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Old 05-13-24, 07:39 AM
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Day 11, Gwangyang to Gurye



















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Old 05-14-24, 06:35 AM
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Day 11, Gwangyang to Gurye, continued









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Old 05-15-24, 05:46 AM
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Day 12, Daegu to Namji






















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Old 05-16-24, 04:58 AM
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Day 13, Namji to Miryang

















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Old 05-17-24, 08:33 PM
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Day 15, Busan to Gimhae International airport


Busan in the background











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