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from bike trail to bike lane / De piste en piste

Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) – Sandy trail side

After 1800 Km in Mongolia, here we are, in Ulaanbaatar (the capital).
We don’t really have time to waste, we have a flight in two days for South Korea, so we have to find quickly a bike cardboard and making them getting inside.
In UB, we’re hosted by Sebastian, a Warmshower, whom we transform the living room into our bike disassembly workshop. Even with small cardboard, everything finally squeeze inside, on weight side… we’ll see at the airport.

We’re lucky, MIAT, the national flight company is not very fussy about our luggage, we get our bikes registered with a “light” overweight (15 kg more for mine), same for checked baggage (25 kg instead of 20 kg). On Cabin baggage side, it’s more 12kg than the reglementary 5 kg…
We did have the right to visit the airport basement to empty our bags, some of our objects seem to worry customs checks: Stove, bicycle chain, Spray, bike tools, … Nothing serious, just enough to lose an hour. In short, everything ends up going well and we take-off to Seoul.

Korea (Seoul) – Bike lane side

Here either, no time to waste, we have to find a new host for tonight, the one we had, just had cancel our request 🙁
We’re lucky, we have Internet at the Airport and in some clics and mails, we find a new place for tonight. Good !

Now, we have to leave the airport. Our bike are quite well mounted (but we’ll see that later). Here we are on one of the two roads leaving the airport island. No realy time to enjoy it, we get arrested by police just after few kilometers, « bike are forbidden here… ». We suspected it a bit, but we didn’t realy have choice. Now we had a choice, staying to negotiate or to turn back and go to take the subway (we tried the first option, and finally use the second one). Here the subway have been designed also for cyclists, so no problem for us.

South Korea is a paradise for cyclists. Governement recently invest on 4000 km of bike lanes, they are all new and infrastructures are awesome. All along of the 600 km crossing the country, we found toilets (still with paper), drinking water point,  shadow, bike parkings, wifi, and even some showers and free campsites (with better standing than we found in Europe).

On mountain side, no problems, cause we have our own tunnels (just for cyclists) through it. For camping, we were told « Here, no one will tell you yes, but no one will tell you no… » so we don’t ask and we camp a bit where we want… without any problems.

About all the rest, we follow the « 4 river trail », a bike friendly itinerary through the country, from Seoul to Busan (633 km). Befort going on that one, we get a « bike passeport » that we can stamp all along the trail.
This is it, a big change that coming from Mongolian sand trail to Korean bike trail.

Besides we haven’t really visited the country (except Seoul city), it is one of the disadvantages of cycle routes, we get many advantage of the infrastructure, but we probably lack beautiful meetings with local …

Special thanks to Jieun and Jinju for their last minute hospitality in Seoul 🙂

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