A beautiful view of Korean countryside along the Seajae Bike Road in South Korea.

What a blessing to stay with two new friends in Chungju last night. Amy and Simone. We had a warm shower, padded sleep, and dak galbi with cheese. Heaven!

Foreign friends in Chungju, South Korea.
Simone and Amy in Chungju, Korea. August, 2012.
We ended up taking a taxi from halfway up the mountain back to Chungju where we met Amy and Simone last night. In the process we were almost in a car accident. But, we weren’t. So, I won’t go into details.

We kept our bikes at the random convenience store we found. A husband and wife let us lock them inside, and even gave us bottles of water as parting gifts when we left this morning. Korean hospitality goes above and beyond. Another example of how everything in life seems to work out. Somehow.

Our goal for today was to bike around 75 kilometers using the Seajae Bike Road to connect us to the Nakdong River Trail. However, we immediately took a wrong turn, which meant we had to climb back up a mountain, and cut through the city of Chungju.

Note to anyone interested in biking from Seoul to Busan: Don’t take the Han River Trail all the way to Chungju Dam. The Seajae Bike Road starts in Tangeumdae, a park where the Han River splits around Chungju. Turns out you don’t need to go to the dam after all. Dam it again!

We remained positive, even after a three-hour detour, and finally made it to the Seajae Trail.

Drinking mageolli while biking from Seoul to Busan in South Korea.
Cheers to (and with) makgeolli while biking in Korea.
Shortly after getting back on track, we stopped at an outdoor restaurant in a tiny town next to a river. Two bottles of makgeolli helped us relax, cool off, and pass the time. The moment was perfect. Exactly what I needed, and had been looking for since we left Banpo Bridge in Seoul.

We got back on our bikes a bit tipsy, and rode just a few kilometers before finding a place to swim. Hopping over hot rocks, and taking a dip in refreshing water sobered us up.

I’m seeing things I never thought I would. Dreams from childhood, of places I’d travel in the future. From rural Iowa to the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains in Korea, my life has been so rewarding and full.

Smell of peppers roasting in the sun. Manure. Valleys. Rice paddies. Apple orchards. Peaches. Farms. Elderly women sitting around with nothing better to do. Abandoned buildings. People fishing in streams. Teenagers hanging out inside a bus stop in the middle of nowhere shout, “Fighting!” at bikers that pass.

This is Korea. Real Korea. Rural Korea. Beautiful Korea.

We may not make our goal today, but, I’m constantly reminded that a journey isn’t about the destination. It’s about what happens along the way.


DAY 1: Triangle Kimbap 
DAY 2: Dam It!
DAY 4: A Bit Dramatic
DAY 5: Get Lost
DAY 6: Sudden Mountains
DAY 7-8: Binging

JOIN CHASE: Biking Around Korea: Seoul to Busan

Korean countryside along the bike path from Seoul to Busan, South Korea
Korean countryside along the bike path from Seoul to Busan, South Korea. August, 2012.

Sunset along the Seajae Bike Road in South Korea.
Sunset along the Seajae Bike Road in South Korea. August, 2012.