Ibike Korea People-to-People Program

   
 

   

Photo essay: Pallang-ri to Wontong

    (36mi, 60km) Very quiet roads – one huge climb. Beautiful views.
Points of Interest: DMZ and North Korea, “Punch Bowl” and Korean War Memorial, fourth infiltration tunnel
  Climbing the ridge to get to the "Punch Bowl" Sign from the middle of 3km tunnelThere is one climb that come first thing in the morning. In about 2008 the length of the climb was halved when they opened a 3 kilometer tunnel through the mountain.  The beauty of a nice climb is the reward of a nice view -- the downhill on the other side is nice as well.  In this case we go into the "Punch Bowl."
  road blocking blocks, South Korea road blocking blocks, South KoreaQuiet reminders that technically South Korea is still in a state of war.  The huge blocks rest on small supports.  If the supports are blown out, as in the case of an invasion from the North, the blocks fall into the road way impeding any advance.  In Gangwon-do (Province), these blocks were set at the top of almost every hill and on both sides of the major passes.
  Punch Bowl, Haean Punch Bowl, was the location of some of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War.  It now is home for a war memorial and exhibit, the northern edge is still mined and it was the intended terminus of a North Korean infiltration tunnel.
  Mine field sign Yellow notices on the guardrail warning of a mine field are another sign that despite the outward peace and tranquility of daily activities by the residents of the area, things are not quite "normal" here.
  Fourth Infiltration Tunnel, South Korea

Fourth Infiltration Tunnel, South Korea

Fourth infiltration tunnel, dug by the North Korea, discovered in the March 1990.  This tunnel is buried at a depth of 145 meters below ground and measures two meters high and two meters wide. Almost identical with Tunnel 2 and Tunnel 3 in size and structure, the tunnel is 2 kilometers long and intrudes 1.03 kilometers south of the Military Demarcation Line.  It is designed to infiltrate massive forces into the Sohwa-Wontong corridor─the major access route to the Yongdong (Seoul-Kangnung) Expressway.  The tunnel is now blocked by five walls.  The railroad and the lights were put in by South Koreans to facilitate tourism.  The guards at the entrance are happy to take pictures of groups.
  Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), South Korea The South Korean edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It was interesting to discuss policies towards North Korea with South Koreans.  The gist of it was: they felt that the U.S. want to treat North Korea like a feral animal.  Even though there have been regular reports of attempts to infiltrate through tunnels, mini-submarines and holes cut in the fence, the general feeling in the south is that the Koreans in the north are their wayward brothers and they should be treated with understanding
  War Memorial Hall, Haean

War Memorial Hall, Haean

War Memorial Hall, HaeanWar Memorial Hall, HaeanWar Memorial Hall, HaeanThe Korean War memorial has several very moving sections: At the entrance (left) are nine pillars representing the nine major battles for the mountains in the area that the South Korean's and their allies had to take to secure the area.  Walking inside you pass a very sobering sculpture of soldiers in the Korean War Civil War, resting, ankle deep in water, reading a letter (upper right).  The installation also includes an exhibit documenting the war. At the end is an stark piece (left) reminding us that this is still a divided country with no true peace. 
  Mt Dosolsan and Punch Bowl Battle Monument, Haean Mt Dosolsan and Punch Bowl Battle Monument, Haean.  Some of the fiercest fighting of the Korean War happened in the summer and fall of 1951 these two battles and for the strategic high ground on others nearby mountains in Yanggu District.  US Marines and ROK troops fought side-by-side in many of these offensives.  Adjacent to the monument is the North Korean exhibition in Unification Hall.
  Agricultural valley and forested hillsides. cycling from from Haean to WontongIf you take a wrong turn in this valley you might join the South Korean military because it seems like every side road leads to a military unit.  But, in fact, fierce days of the war are long past and the dominate scene is agricultural valley and forested hillsides.  The entire section from Haean to Wontong is a delightful ride.
  Inje road blocking blocks Entering Inje District, someone has taken a lighter approach strategic defense  by brightening up and decorating the road blocking blocks in the narrow valley at the top of hill.  They are camouflaged as promotional signs for the country.
  traditional style yeogwan (hotel) room, South Korea Hotel rooms are "western" or "traditional" (ondol).  Traditional rooms have no bed and a heated floor (ondol).  The bedding is folded in the corner and the guest lays out the pad, comforter and pillows.  In hotels, motels and yeogwans (small hotels) the rooms have bathrooms, television, mini-refrigerator and telephone.  Minbaks are usual "ondol", the bathroom is exterior and shared with other guest and they usually don't have any appliances.  To the extent that television is an insight into a culture, Korean television has a plethora of shopping channels, the requisite domestic relationship dramas, sports channels and actions movies and network television.  But more interest was dedicated channels to "Go" (a board game where players use black and white stones to capture territory, that is very popular in China, Japan and Korea), and channels dedicated to lectures on math (i.e. calculus and algebra) and hard science.
  Korean dinner meal Table spread with food at Korean dinner mealFood is plentiful at a Korean table.  Besides whatever main dish you order, you almost always get an assortment of pickled and/or peppered  side dishes (kimchi) made with cabbage, radish, cucumber, eggplant, various greens, garlic, squid, etc.  We ate similar to this almost every night, but I will spare you the nightly picture.
    If you are heading directly to the east coast from Wontong, by one route you will get to Suchon.  It is not part of any of our regular route but we have a few pictures.
     
 

Pallang Sangnam

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