The big hills

(58 Kms)

Saturday, 23 Sept, 2017

Suanbo - Mungyeon

Breakfast was included at the hotel, and we made the most of it. Lots of buttered white bread toast, with jam or the vegemite that always travels with us, as well as bircher muesli, and endless filtered coffee. We updated our social media sites, and tried to work out where to find a supermarket. Our efforts the night before had been unsuccessful, as a standard Korean convenience store does not stock cheese, ham or fresh bread.

We had spied a bakery, and stopped there first, finding some little brioche type buns, and a topped bread that we hadn't tried before. I picked up a small packaged bread, and was scolded by the shopkeeper for not using the tongs. I was familiar with tongs for fresh bread, but not for bread wrapped in plastic.

I spotted a taxi driver, and in my best Korean asked for a supermarket (same word in Korean but every syllable stressed), I also added grand hand gestures, indicating that I needed a bigger one than the convenience store behind me. He gestured down the road with a slight wave to the right, and sure enough we found it. The supermarket was quite small, with a very limited selection, but enough to get us through the day.

Today was the day of the biggest hills on the first leg of our travels. Three hills, with the longest being 5kms. The morning was slightly overcast with a gentle breeze - perfect for hill climbing. The first one was easy, but we knew it was just a warm up, and soon enough we hit the big one. The route was well marked, with markings on the road every 200 metres indicating the distance to the top. There were also a number of rest points which were good for a break, but were surrounded by bushes, so no real views.

Starting the first climb

First climb almost done

Georgia making better work of the climb

Chilli plants along the road

Onto the second climb

It was busy at the top, with lots of cyclists coming and going. There was a cafe with surprisingly okay coffee. We spoke to a number of cyclists, with one Korean cyclist taking a selfie with "Simon's family" - another person excited to see a family cycling together. We also met two New Zealand couples, and had a great time exchanging stories of our experience on the road. As we were leaving, an elderly lady insisted that I take some lollies with us, and plied me with a few handfuls. Our few words of Korean including "hello", "goodbye", "thank you" and "delicious" are proving invaluable.

View back down the hill

At the top

We flew down the next 8kms and the road meandered through small towns and along rivers. It was mainly on-road cycling, though with a separate bike path, so we felt quite safe. We stopped for lunch at one of the certification centres, and met up with the New Zealand group again who were also headed to Mungyeong. As we passed by a sign for "Tourist Shooting Fields", we were most amused to see two tourist buses turn onto the site. We wondered if any tourists would be returning.....then realised the sign referred to a rifle range.

Rice fields

Friendly cyclists

A waterfall along the way

The path into Mungyeong took us past a range of sporting fields, including mini golf, croquet, tennis, soccer, and a massive outdoor climbing wall. We had seen a few signs for these, so assume they must be quite popular. We found the area for motels, and were happy with the first one we viewed. E-motel was basic, but so was the price at 30,000 won per room.

Simon and I decided to visit the local homebase store to stock up on provisions, and find a thermos. We were travelling with teabags, but the promised hot water at the certification centres had not eventuated. The store was enormous, and we bought far more than we really needed, but will enjoy some treats on the road tomorrow!

We set off on our well-tested approach to finding dinner, with Georgia ensuring that we didn't venture into any restaurants that were not busy. We found one that was full of people all sitting on the floor with big pans on the table. We sat ourselves down and pointed to the pans and agreed to "chicken". We were served some delicious, icy cucumber broth whilst the chicken, cabbage, mint, taro, rice sticks and sauce cooked. It was a similar style to the dinner in Yeoju, but very different flavours, particularly as it was topped with mozzarella cheese. We are it wrapped in lettuce leaves, and it was delicious.

Chicken dinner

We stopped off at a convenience store to buy some crackers for our cheese tomorrow, and picked up some Pocky sticks - apparently all the rave at Meriden and Trinity. They are like a thin breadstick dipped in chocolate, and were devoured in minutes. Another great day.