Ibike Korea People-to-People Program


Photo essay: Yeongsan River -
Gwangju, Naju, Mokpo

Yeongsan River Trail, (130 km, 80 mi) Mostly riverside and dike-top trail, with the occasional headland.
Points of Interest:  beautiful hills, rivers and valleys, Naju "Pear Town" , Mokpo "City of Lights"

Gwangju River Trail, Korea Gwangju River Trail, KoreaGwangju River Trail, KoreaGwangju River Trail, KoreaA tributary of the Yeongsan River, the Gwangju River, flows into the center of Gwangju.  It generally doesn't connect many local destinations, but it provides local recreational opportunities.  In addition to the trail, there are exercise equipment stations to enjoy.
Baseball field, Yeongsan River Trail, Gwangju, Korea Back to the banks of the Yeongsan River and the river trail.  One of the uses of the flood plain, in dry season, is sports fields.  In this reach of the river there were a number of baseball fields.  Baseball is popular in Korea.  These look like practice fields for the minor leagues.  Everyone probably has aspiration to work their way up to a major league team -- most of which are sponsored by the giant Korean industrial corporations.
Apartment buildings, Gwanju, Korea Cosmos field, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaAcross the river are more buildings for residential people stacking.  As much as I have trouble with the aesthetics of the residential complex and they are sprawling, they cause a faction of the sprawl that would be the consequence of all of the inhabitants living in single family houses.

In the open spaces along the river cosmos are a popular flower.

Seungchonbo (wier), Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Seungchonbo (wier), Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaSeungchonbo (wier), Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaMuch of Korean's river trail network is a component of the Four Rivers Project, with the stated goal to provide or improve water security, flood control and ecosystem vitality. It was first announced as part of the “Green New Deal” policy launched in January 2009.  Most of the work was completed by the end of 2012.  More than a dozen dams or large weirs are part of the system -- each with a distinctive look.  This is Seungchonbo, the largest weir in the nation. The shape of the overhead structure is suppose to represent the end of a grain of rice, which is the dominate crop of the Naju Plains.
Seungchonbo rest area, Yeongsan River, Korea Seungchonbo camping site, Yeongsan River, KoreaOne of the short coming of the river trails is that they are generally ahead of the economy. That is the trails were built and people have come to use them but they may not have many services like convenience stores, restaurants and lodging -- frequent restrooms generally have been included with the development of the trail. The Seungchonbo/Naju area is an exception.  The K-Water building near the dam has a convenience store and tables that are very popular with trail users. There is a new campsite near by, which in about 2014 started to pop up sporatically near many of the river trails. And, Naju, especially in Samyeong-dong and Ichang-dong, has many restaurants and small hotels.
Yeongsan River Riding Club (Bear Deer Farm), Korea Yeongsan River Riding Club (Bear Deer Farm), KoreaSomething for the cute-animal lovers here.  I am sure these guys would prefer to be running free in the forest than trapped in their barren cages, but it was nice to get a peak at them. The sign says "Yeongsan River Riding Club (Bear Deer Farm)." I can't find any thing on a Bear Dear.  The indigenous deer in Korea are: Siberian Musk Deer, Red Deer, Sika Deer, and Siberian Roe Deer. In size and shape it is closest to the Red Deer, but the fir and color are very different -- it might be a summer coat.
bridge at Naju, Yeongsan River, Korea Frog on the Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaNew "harp design" cable-staybridge at Naju. (left)

There was also some real wildlife -- a frog -- who pick a perilous resting place.  Fortunately traffic was light.  Hopefully he moved along in a timely manner.

family grave plot along Yeongsan River Trail, Korea This family grave plot is shaded by trees and has a beautiful view across the Yeongsan River, near Naju.  It seems like a very pleasant place to spend eternity.
Yeongsan River Trail, Ichang-dong, Naju, Korea Group bicycle ride on Yeongsan River Trail, Ichang-dong, Naju, KoreaSeungchonbo is about 25km from Gwangju and Ichang-dong, Naju, is about 35km from Gwangju so they are popular turn around points from bicyclists on day trip out of Gwangju. The next popular node is Juksan Dam which is another 10km south on the trail, but it lacks any amenities, except restrooms and a drinking fountain.
Stairs to Najupyeongya Pavilion, Yeongsan River, Naju, Korea Najupyeongya Pavilion, Yeongsan River, Naju, KoreaView from Najupyeongya Pavilion, Yeongsan River, Naju, KoreaView from Najupyeongya Pavilion, Yeongsan River, Naju, KoreaThe view from Najupyeongya Pavilion and view point, south of Naju, makes it worth a stop.
Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Many of the views didn't elicit deep thought, they were just idyllic and a way to clear your thoughts.

Idyllic view, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Idyllic view, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Idyllic view, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea

Juksanbo (weir), Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Juksanbo (weir), Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaJuksanbo (weir), Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaThis is the Juksanbo (weir) on the  Yeongsan River.  It is debated whether the new weirs have been more destructive or constructive for the environment.  Some assert that the real objective of the project was for the then President to pay back his industrialist friends.  All of the major corporations got a piece of the pie. The politics aside, recreational bicycle is a winner.
Blue Wave Art, Juksanbo, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Bicycle art, Juksanbo, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaBicycle art, Juksanbo, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaBicycle art, Juksanbo, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaAt Juksanbo they have included some art, including a playful piece of a bicycle build for two, being chased by couple of pink dogs.

The other major piece has blue waves and silver balls, which are left to your imagination.

Naju Image Theme Park, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea There is what looks to be a very large, immaculate, ancient fortress on the hill top, but there was no road side signs or any label or icon on any tourist or trail maps to indicate that there was a historical or cultural point of interest anyplace in the area.  My guesses were an amusement park, a hotel or a private residences.  It turns out to be the Naju Image Theme Park. An Internet search in English turns up nothing.  An Internet search in Hangul results in a number of hits, but they are all in Korean. Here is the search term: 나주영상테마파크
Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Raised viaduct, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaRaised viaduct, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaWhile much of the trail was in the flood plain or on the top of adjacent dikes, there were notable sections that required a special effort and specific engineering. This was often when the river abutted a steep hillside.  Occasional the trail on raised viaducts specially built for the purpose (right).
farm road, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea

Rice field, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea

directional sign, farm roads, Yeongsan River Trail, Koreadirectional sign, farm roads, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaSometimes there were no flood plains or dikes and the cliffs were too steep and long so the trail detoured on to farm roads and through farmlands and villages. It is a welcome diversion. The farm roads were built to suit the farmers, not the end-to-end trail users, so for the trail user they often had some interesting twists and turns to stay on course.  Generally these were well marked -- if you were looking at the right place at the right time.  The one in the shade on the pavement were easier to fly by.  Big ones on post were hard to miss.  The trail signage is interesting because there are several different systems going on; one covers end-to-end information and other schemes are just for a district.  At times it is hard to reconcile the numbers from the different systems. Have a little skepticism for numbers can be a health trait for bicyclists -- if you follow the route and ride you will get there in due time.
View from Bokryong Observatory, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Bokryong Observatory, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea  View from Bokryong Observatory, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea View from Bokryong Observatory, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea View from Bokryong Observatory, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea

Rice field, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaAlong the trail there are a numbered set of special scenic places.  Most of these are manmade, for example bridges, weirs, and historic pavilions.  Bokryong Observatory, "Viewing Spot #3" (starting from Mokpo), is unique in that it quality relies predominantly on natural beauty; the bend in the river and the hills around it.  It is the nicest single view of a very pretty day.

As is so often the case another variation on rice field comes into view.  This one with relatively closely spaced terraces providing a mix of lines, color, texture and content.

Cheongho-ri, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Hwy 10, Mokpo-Gwangyang Expressway Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaHwy 10, Mokpo-Gwangyang Expressway Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaIn the small village of Cheongho-ri a few simple fishing boats are pulled up on the shore, but just around the corner thousands of cars and trucks rush across the ultra-modern Mokpo-Gwangyang Expressway Bridge (Hwy 10). It is a triple span, cable stay bridge,  that sweeps across the river
Viewing Spot #1, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Viewing Spot #1, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaWhich brings us to underwhelming Viewing Spot #1 on Yeongsanho (lake) View Point.  The view point itself is a set of barren, raised curved walkways, with no shade.  The lake is a broad expanse surrounded by low hills of flat lands.  Objects that catch the eye are the nets of the golf driving range in the southern part of Mokpo, the Mokpo-Gwangyang Expressway Bridge and the relatively featureless Yeongsan River Estuary Dam.  Maybe I was just too tired from fighting a headwind when I was here to properly appreciate it. And, in its defense, it is supposed to be at its best at sunset.
Yeongsan River Estuary Dam, Mokpo, Korea Yeongsan River Estuary Dam, Mokpo, Korea Yeongsan River Estuary Dam, Mokpo, Korea
Namchang Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Namchang Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaNamchang Bridge is a "harp design" cable-stay bridge, as is the Mokpo-Gwangyang Expressway Bridge -- not to be confused with suspension bridges.  The Yeongsan River Trail crosses the Namchang Bridge at the edge of Mokpo. Because of the simple and elegant lines cable-stay bridges have become very popular.
Namchang Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Namchang Bridge, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea These invite some architectural art photography.
Mokpo Ogam Wetland Ecological Park, Yeongsan River Trail, Korea Mokpo Ogam Wetland Ecological Park, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaMokpo Ogam Wetland Ecological Park, Yeongsan River Trail, KoreaThe Mokpo Ogam Wetland Ecological Park is bounded on one side by the Yeongsan River Trail and the other by a large high rise residential development and golf driving range.

At the side of the ecological park is a demonstration or test of four types of windWind power generators, Mokpo powered electric generators; straight vertical vane style, three-blade propeller style, curved vertical vane maglev style and horizontal bucket vertical axis style.

Another Mokpo Urban Wetland Park is proposed for the shoreline just west of the museum complex. It was a manmade rectangular boat harbor and rectangular lagoon, that are being filled and reclaimed (or claimed.)

Mokpo Memorial Park and Monument, Korea The focal point Mokpo Memorial Park and Monument is a large, tall monument to the Korean Independence Movement set on the hill, near Mt. Buheungsan, overlooking Mokpo Harbor. TheMannam Waterfall, Mokpo, Korea monument is perhaps 50 feet tall with the figure of two women holding a Korean flag. There is a museum underneath it. There is also access to hiking trails that go up the mountain to the north and offer great panoramic views of the eastern part of the city.

Mannam Waterfall is an artificial waterfall on the side of Mt. Buheungsan at the southern terminus of the Yeongsan River Trail and the entrance to town.  At night it is lit with colored lights.

Gatbawi, Mokpo, Korea Gatbawi wooden walkway, Mokpo, KoreaGatbawi, "Hat Rock" or "Lampshade Rock", is a natural Sandstone and Tafoni formation found on the shore of the East Harbor. It resembles a Joseon Era helmet to some and a satgat (conical woven hat) to others. Because the formation is created from wave action, the best view is from the bay side.  To resolve the access problem for ordinary citizens a beautiful walkway was built around the formation.
Korean Joseon Helmet

There are two legends associated to Gatbawi:

A long time ago, a young man lived with his sick father and sold salt. Though he was poor, he was a kind man who would do anything to help his sick father.

To earn and save money to cure his father’s illness he worked as a farmhand for a rich house. He did his job well but in the end the wealth man didn’t pay him.

When he returned home after one month, he found his father’s body was already cold. The boy had great regrets. The least he could do was to try to make his father comfortable in the afterlife.  Unfortunately, as he was moving his father’s body, he slipped and dropped the coffin into the sea.

He now felt awful about his father’s underwater burial. To make amends, he stayed until he too could no longer see the sky. A long time after his death, two rocks rose up at Gatbawi: The bigger rock is called the “father” and the smaller is called the “son”.

The second legend says that when Buddha and a disciple traveled across the Yeongsan River, they took a rest in this place. When they continued on their journey, they left behind their hats. This gives rise to the alternative name of “monk rocks.”

Maritime Memorial, Mokpo, Korea Fishing boat, Mokpo, KoreaThe Mokpo Maritime Memorial is between the National Maritime Museum and the Art and Culture Center -- part of a complex of museums.  The National Maritime Museum houses a relic museum and the Maritime Cultural Asset Research Institute, which is the nation's only institute for underwater archaeology. The museum recovers relics that were lost underwater hundreds of years ago for the purpose of preservation and exhibition. In the exhibits guests learn about the exploration of a trade ship that sank off the coast of Korea between the 11th and 14th century and the Goryeo celadon relics that were recovered during the exploration. In addition to the indoor pieces, an exhibit of full-sized Korean traditional ships is on display on the waterfront outside the museum.
Fishing Harbor, Mokpo, Korea Korea Coast Guard boat, Mokpo, KoreaThe blocks and streets around the fishing boat harbor tell the story; Spicy Monkfish Street, Seonchang Raw Fish Center, Raw Croaker Street, Dried Fish Store, and the Mokpo Wholesale Fish Market.

Berthed at the mouth of the harbor is a large Korea Coast Guard ship.

Street of Light, Mokpo, Korea Mokpo is the "City of Lights",  They have started with the "Street of Light" in front of Mokpo Theater and the old Palace Theater.  At night there is a tunnel of sparkling lights.
Aphae Bridge, Mokpo, KoreaMokpo newest (2012) landmark is the double tower, 1.75km long, "fan design" cable-stay Mokpo Bridge (left) at the mouth of the Yeongsan River. It is the second longest cable-stayed bridge in Korea. The main span is 500m long. The bridge was designed by Seoul based GS Engineering & Construction.

Five kilometers north is the 1.5km long, Aphae Bridge (right), which was completed in 2008. It connects the mainland with Aphae Island.

Upper Youngsan West Coast

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