Ibike Korea People-to-People Program

   
 

   

Photo essay: Pallang to Yeoju via Geumsa

   

Pallang to Geumsa (40mi, 20km)  Generally hilly.
Points of Interest: farmland, river valleys, small towns.

  Pallang Dam, Hangang, Seoul, Korea The Pallang Dam was built in 1960, primarily for flood control.  But it also served to blocked river boat commerce.  This was a time when roads into the interior were poor or non-existent.  The dam caused a changed to the economies of the village economies along the river in the interior.  Many of the "ports" along the river were flood and others have virtually disappear from inactivity.

At Pallang you have the choice of following the west and south river bank (the following description) or the east and north river bank on the Hangang Trail.to Yeoju

  Korean sign show hiking trails in the vicinity. Signs like this start to be regular roadside features soon after you leave urban Seoul.  The show hiking trails in the area.  Around Seoul, many of them are accessible by bus.  In more remote areas many are still accessible by bus because of the countries extensive bus system, but often there is a parking area near-by -- almost always with a few vehicles parked at it.
  Beyond Seoul's urban footprint most of the flat land is rural agricultural and any land with much of a slope is forested.  Every now and again we came to a cluster of business, often near a Landscaped road junction, Korea junction or a small town.  The roads are in excellent conditions and generally have paved shoulders.

Out in the country side it was not unusual to find elaborate landscaping at a junction pointing to a small hamlet or neighborhood.  The one to the right is for Geumsa-ri.

  "So-tae," wooden birds on poles.  Traditionally these marked the boundaries of a village and were for good luck.  Contemporarily the are used more as decorative art, as they are here. I saw these in a couple locations.
  One thing that breaks the forest on the hills is family burial sites.  They are distinguished by their terraces, mounded earth (the grave) and flat, thick stone tables for offerings.  It is a tradition to maintain the grave site at Chusok (several weeks earlier) so most of the mini-cemeteries were well manicured as we passed.
  Our lunch stop was a family-run mandu (dumpling) restaurant.  The mandu was being hand-made on the premises by 'grandpa'.
  Onggi: Traditional thick stoneware pots used for storing grains, kimchi, soy sauce and bean paste. There are glazed and unglazed versions. The glaze is made from ash. It is very common to see these outside of houses, sometimes half buried for additional temperature control.
  decorated train engine sculpture decorated train sculptureThis section has a plethora of gallery and small museums along it.  Many feature modern architecture, and have elegant ceramics, fine painting and / or crafts executed by masters, but the establishment that was a magnet for pictures was packed with bright, playful, quirky sculptures and decorations, including buildings dressed to look like a train engine and an old railroad car decorated with flowers. 

Other objects looked like they were inspired by science-fiction aliens or the desire to communicate with extraterrestrial beings.

  Yeogwan architecture The architecture of rural motels, that cater almost exclusively to Koreans, has a trend that is interesting.  It might be described as a cross between the most un-Korean French Provincial and Queen Anne styles.  Each building is unique so it is hard to generalize but it is common to find a mixture of arches and square doors, steep, high, hipped roofs, balconies, towers, and vertical windows, coquettish detailing and eclectic materials. The desired result seems to be to create an adventurous and romantic atmosphere. So how and when was this symbolism implanted into Korean cultural associations?
    First Asian Organic Rice ConferenceThe is a banner for the "First Asian Organic Rice Conference", Sept 30 - Oct 1, 2011.  It is connected with the 17th International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) Conference that was being held in Namyangju, across the river.  Anecdotally it would seem that Koreans prioritize blemish-free produce over organic, but this might be changing..
  For miles, we passed stalks of perilla (wild sesame) leaning on the guardrails and spread along the shoulder drying.  The looked like they had already dropped most of their seeds so they may have been curing for storage to be used later as animal feed. Korea rice field.

The is so many lovely rice fields along the route that you feel obliged to stop periodically and take a picture in the hope that this time you will capture the tranquility, grace and beauty.  It is harder that it looks and rarely happens.

Right before Yeosu is the entrance to the very interesting Royal Tombs at Yeongneung.

  Riverside bike trail, Yeoju, South Korea bicycle bridge, Yeoju, South KoreaOne of the first sections of the National Bikeway was built in Yeosu in 2011. It hugs the south bank of the river through town.  In the middle of Yeoju the riverside trail ends and there is a pig tail viaduct which brings users to street level and into town. The National Bikeway system continues south on sidewalks and there is a bridge across the river which gives access to rural roads that can also be used to head south and east.
 

Yangsu Chungju

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