Ibike Korea People-to-People Program

   
 

   

Photo essay: Hwacheon to Pallang-ri

    (50mi, 80km) Beautiful valleys separated by mountain passes (3).
Points of Interest: Peace Dam, Bangsan Kiln, Jikyeon Falls, battle fields, northern defenses, Pallang-ri Folk Museum
  Gapyeong cover market Overnight the market has been cleaned.  The first vendors return and start setting up before 7 a.m. but the market won't be crowded for a couple more hours.
    The hardware store has a wide variety of goods in a small space; tools, paint, chain, fasteners, brooms, containers, fencing, etc.
  hardware storeBike shop If such a thing exists, this is a pretty typical bike shop; doors wide open, some of the inventory spilling out on to the street and repairs being done right inside the front door.  Sometimes repairs are done out on the sidewalk as well. 
  Pedestrian and bicycle facilities around school Pedestrian and bicycle facilities as they approach the elementary school.  Pedestrian movements are controlled by fencing.  There is a speed-bump to slow motor vehicles. Yellow textured pavers are used to assist the sight-impaired.
  Narrow street of the business district of Gapyeong Narrow street of the business district of Gapyeong.  The roads are still quiet when we head out of town.
  Non-motorized trail, Gapyeong The river by Gapyeong has non-motorized trail facilities both at street level and near the river side.  It is typical for river banks to be used for trails in and near the towns and cities around the country.  The facilities near the river are generally in the flood plain so might not be accessible at all times.
  Hwacheon Kkeomeok Bridge This is the historic Hwacheon Kkeomeok Bridge -- fortunately there is no test at the end.  Built in 1945, so it survived the war and probably a few floods.  The sign says it is Korea's longest steel-frame and concrete bridge and a location for the movie War Comrade.
  mountain road, south of the DMZ, South Korea A major feature of the day is climb ridges and descending down the other side.  They aren't steep but they take perseverance. They curve so much that you can really tell how high you climb.  It is probably just as well because if you could see the top from the bottom you would probably be totally demoralized. 
  Climbing The first hill of the day is the longest -- fortunately it comes while you are freshest.  A major reward of the day is big views as you ascend the hillsides.
  tunnel, South Korea Each of the hills has a tunnel near the top so you never climb fully to the top of the ridge.  It is an interesting kind of conditioning because later when there aren't tunnels to create a short cut on the climb you get a little pissed off that the road builders are making you go all the way to the pass.  This tunnel is 2 kilometers long.   Language lesson: The Korean word for "tunnel" is "tunnel" spoken with a Korean accent.
  Bukhan River valley Bukhan River valley, the view outside the first tunnel.  It looks like a nice ride down into the valley.  Of course one of those hills in the distance is probably the next hill we'll be climbing.
  Peace Dam, South Korea Explanation for Peace Dam, South KoreaA new project that was mostly complete in about 2006 is the massive, high, Peace Dam.  They have yet to start filling the reservoir, but it is not exactly intended to be filled.  The dam is not far south of the DMZ, and should it fill the lake will extend into North Korea. But the real back story is about a dams that North Koreans built up-river on their side of the border.  The south is concerned that in a conflict the North might breach their dam in an effort to wash out bridges and flood towns down to and including Seoul. This is conveyed to visitors in a graphic poster.  The dam sits and waits for its day to be a peace-maker.
  World Peace Bell, Peace Dam, South Korea fountain at Peace Dam, South Korea World Peace Makers, Peace Dam, South KoreaPeace Dam is designed to be a tourist destinations as well with a World Peace Bell, an exhibit of peace makers from around the world, visitors center, museum, garden, pond, sculptures, murals, fountains, cafeteria and snack bar.  The landscaping is extensive, including along the top of the dam wall and around the visitors center.

World Peace Bell, Peace Dam, South KoreaThe bell was made from empty cartridges from world's conflict zones) It islandscaped pond, Peace Dam, South Korea currently is unfinished and weighs 9,999 gwan.  When peace is reached with the North the last gwan (about 7.5 pounds) will be added.

Unlike many of the other dams on the Han River, where they have recently restricted driving across the top of the dam, the main road in this area to the northeast now goes across the dam.

  If you should be out driving you tank down this road, note the sign that gives a weight limited for the bridge.  But it is not a trivial matter because this area is about 10 km from the demilitarized zone.  While perfectly tranquil at the moment, North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war, and both sides have ten's of thousands of troops stationed near the border.  In additional to military posts up most valleys, military vehicle are about half of the vehicles on these otherwise the low volume on the roads. There are also other indications that South Korea is still being vitualent.
  traditional beehives, South Korea Traditional beehives -- a photo dedicated to a frequent Ibike participant who is always interested in bee animal husbandry in each country.  For those who didn't know they were interested in beehives, traditional beehives change a lot from region-to-region.
  modern beehives Modern beehives -- a photo dedicated to a frequent Ibike participant who is always interested in bee animal husbandry in each country.
  tunnel, South Korea Yeah, another tunnel -- we must be at the top of another hill and it is downhill on the other side!
  Buddhist grave Buddhist grave high on the hill.  The flat stone is there for leaving offering (meals) for the deceased.
  Planted forest While clear cut forest were never evident, there may have been more of it in the past. In fact, at the end of the Korea War in the mid-1950's much of the countries forest were decimated and mountainside erosion was a major problem. There was a concerted effort across the country to reestablish and rehabilitate the forests.  The straight lines, uniformity and symmetry of this forest indicate that it was planted at the one time.
  horticulture, green house sesame plantsmillet drying on a guard railThe valleys are primarily agricultures with a lot of variety.  These three consecutive picture show flowers in a green house, a field of sesame and millet drying on a guard rail.
  Bangsan Porcelain Museum traditional kiln, Bangsan Porcelain MuseumHistorically, like more than 600 years ago, and for 600 years to follow, Bangsan, has been a center for royal white porcelain pottery.  Today you can visit the Bangsan Porcelain Museum and learn about the development of porcelain and production in Yanggu, see fine ceramic pieces and see a replica of a traditional kiln (right).
  Jikyeon Falls, Bangsan Jikyeon Falls pavilion, BangsanJikyeon Falls and pavilion, Bangsan. The country is dotted with pavilions next to waterfalls, along rivers, on hill tops and under large trees.  It is a message to me that people enjoy relaxing.
  Rice harvesting combine solar voltaic panels, Pallang KoreaRice harvesting combine (left).  This machine cuts, separates and bags the rice, while leaving the straw in the field.  Few farmers own their own rice harvester, but can arrange for the use of one from the agricultural coop, one of the biggest business entities in rural South Korea.

A new feature in one farm field was an array of solar voltaic panels (right).

  Cathedral It seems to be generally accepted that 30% of South Koreans are Christians, 30% are Buddhist and the other 40% are unaffiliated.  Overlaying all of this is a Confucius philosophy and touches of traditional shamanism.
  Pallang-ri folk museum Pallang-ri folk museum (right). Displays include baskets, furniture, back packs and musical instruments.Women preparing kimchi

Two women preparing kimchi.  Kimchi comes in dozens of varieties.  It is a way to keep vegetables for a long time, while preserving there nutrient quality.  Koreans claim that it helps retard dozens of ills, including diabetes and some kinds of cancer (see
http://www.treelight.com/health/KimchiHealthy.html

  On one visit the chairperson of the local council greeted us on the road near the edge of Pallang
     
 

Hwacheon Wontong

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