Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Taebaek to Ulchin

    (53mi, 85km) After the last of the mountains, head down valleys to the coast road – but there still will be hills.
Points of Interest: coal mines, narrow canyons, garlic and pepper farms, Nuclear power plant
  After climbing out of the valley that Taebaek is in it is largely downhill to the sea.  The panoramic view would have been better on a cloudless day, but we could still enjoy the view of the road ahead.
  Roadside coffee machine Coffee machine at remote locationCoffee machines are almost ubiquitous.  They can be on almost every block in a city, inside business, at any kind of roadside attraction and stand alone in a gravel parking lot.  This one is outside of a very small store at the junction of two lightly traveled road, but it is just enough to keep a cyclist going.
  The road and river share the same gorge The road and river share the same gorge.  In 2003, torrential rains and floods had ripped out dozens of miles of roads in this canyon.  By 2004, the road had been total rebuilt -- better than they were before.  Typhoons still hit the area regularly and damage the road.  It accumulates more patches almost annually.
  Hyoyeolmun (gate built in honor of filial piety and chasity) dedicated to Min Sun-ho and Mme. Park The accompanying sign says: "Min Sun-ho and his wife, Mme. Park from a Juksan family, lived at Ojeo-ri during the reign of King Gojong.  When Min's parents were sick in bed, the couple scoured the mountains and rivers to collect herbs to use as medicine.  Their great care worked and the parents were able to recover their health.  Mme. Park was celebrated for her hospitality in welcoming guests.  When her husband, was once close to death with illness, Mme. Park cut her finger and saved him by feeding him her blood.  In 1885, the 22nd year of King Gonjong's reign, the King ordered the magistrate of Samcheok to honor Min Sun-ho as a devoted son and Mme. Park as a faithful woman.  The hyoyeolmun was built to honor their filial piety."
  river bank work and channelizationBesides the general scenery the picture shows the nature of the river bank work, bridging and channelization that common on South Korea rivers.  It is not unusual to see large bridges within a kilometer of each other, some serving a single farm.  Massive reworking of rivers is not usually good for the ecology of the river, but there is no indication that this is an issue yet in South Korea.
  Expressway under construction The relocation and rebuilding of Hwy 7 (2004) should make cycling may get even better along the central east coast.  Throughout the country there is a huge amount of construction on express ways, which tend to take traffic off of rural roads.  These roads tunnel in onside of a hill and pop out the other and then float above the valleys in between the mountains.  As they are completed they pull long distance traffic off the old highways leaving more spaces for cyclists.
  Monument to technological advance at Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant.  On the transportation panel, also feature an antique car and jet airplane, there is a high wheeler bike.

Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant, one of twenty nuclear power plants in South Korea that account for 40% of the country's electric output.  The gateway sculpture is an oversize model of atoms.  The reactor vessel and cooling towers are on the right side of the picture.

  Ulchin school game day On one pass through Ulchin, the students at this school were having a game-day.  In the game shown, a contestant on each team would dress like royalty and then walk on the backs of their team mates for the length of the course.  The teammate had to keep cycling back to the head of the line to keep the forward progress.  Other games were relays and other team activities, often with themes or props drawn from traditional culture.
  Short section of non-motorized trail south of Ulchin Sometimes in conjunction with highway project and sometimes as stand alone projects, there are are efforts to improve conditions for cycling along the east coast.  To date (2013) the improve are pretty discontinuous so if you are going any distance you are frequently popped back out on to busy highways and the bicycle facilities are generally poorly signed so you need prior knowledge to find many of the more bicycle-friendly links.
  Fish nets drying on the highway (now block to traffic).  Coincidentally this highway is straight enough, long enough (3 km) and marked to be a landing strip for jet aircraft.  It doesn't appear to be actively used so presumably it has been built in case of an emergency.
  fishing boat fleet in Chukpyon harbor fishing boat fleet in Chukpyon harborThe fishing boat fleet in Chukpyeon harbor, one of the nicest harbors on the east coast of Korea.

From the fishing boats comes the fish catch, many of which are set to dry in long racks along the side of the road (far right photo).

  squid boats line the horizon at night If you are up after sundown or before sunrise you can see a bright white glow on the horizons, almost turning the night into day. These are the high powered lights of scores of squid fishing boats that foreshadow the quirkiness of the day.  By sunrise, the boats have turned off their lights and melted away.  If you see them coming back into port they are far less formidable than you might have imagined.
  Squid boats Chukpyon harborBut even before the sun is full in the sky the squid economy is texturing the view as the drying lines catch the first rays of the sunrise. To the left are quid left out over night, basking in the sunrise.

To the right are squid boats in Chukpyeon harbor.  Squid boats are characterized by their long row of high powered light bulbs.  The boats fish at night and the lights attract the squid.

  Hoe (fresh fish) restaurants The water front street of Chukpyeon (and most other coastal towns and villages) is lined with "Hoe" (fresh fish) restaurants.  The restaurants are identifiable by the array of fish tanks in front.
  sandy beach, eastern Korea sandy beach, eastern KoreaMost of the coast is quite rocky so sandy beaches are the exception.  This is a nice sandy beach south of Chukpyeon, but the weather isn't  always nice enough to make you want to feel like throwing yourself into the surf.
  Mangyangjeong (pavilion) Mangyangjeong (pavilion) was originally built during the Goryeo period (918-1392) at the foot of Hyeonjongsan (mountain).  It was moved to the present location in 1858. It was rebuilt in 1958 and repaired in 1979.
  Mangyangjeong (pavilion) detail Mangyangjeong  is considered one of the eight most scenic spots of the east coast of Gangwon-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do.  Note: The country has it eight most scenic spots, provinces have their eight most scenic spots, rivers have their eight most scenic spots, etc.
  Minbak This is a fairly typical minbak (lodging) in a fishing village along the coast.  The big building to the left is the family house and the small building to the right has several rooms for guests (typically 2-4).  The bathroom is separate again.  Sleeping is "ondol" and they have no accessories, but they generally cost the same or more than a room in a yeogwan (small hotel).

Taebeak Ganggu

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