Our tired bodies and the soft hotel beds worked against our plan to head out early, so we started at 9am, picking up the path again from Gumi.
Slowly working our way alongside the now familiar Nakdong river scenery we pass many cyclists and red stamp boxes. Near lunch time we reached a big park on the outskirts of Daegu with a building looking something between an olympic stadium and an alien space ship. We ventured inside and found a coffeeshop with soft chairs, a delicious sandwich and some cold yogurt smoothies. A quick nap and a look around the art gallery and strange swimming pool- like pond on the roof, then we left the families to troll about and enjoy the afternoon sun, we still had far to go.
Our next stop brought us to our stamp box, a golden sunset over the sparkling water and an ice cream-less CU mart. We debated about going on and if we would find a place to sleep, in the end deciding to take the gamble. Luckily an accidental shortcut and our GPS phones helped us to save some time, but the darkness crept up on us as we cycled a deserted path among thick trees next to the river.
Around each turn the inclines and declines seemed to increase along with the darkness and an eerie feeling of being in a horror movie. By this time my bike’s light’s battery had decided to fail me. I rode past two statues on either side of the track, increasing the strangeness of the night and then with all my might I rode up the next hill rising from the darkness, only to find the outline of Korean roof tiles, lantern lights and rhythmic dull sound of prayer. Here at night in the middle of somewhere next to the Nakdong river happens to be a Buddhist temple.
Just at the turn of the hill I stopped, unable to win the hill as it turned and kept rising up into the darkness alongside the temple. While taking a sip of water some other cyclists emerge from the gloom below pushing their bikes up. A quick talk together and we learn that from here the road continues going up and most of it gravel. We thought about maybe staying at the temple for the night, but with the next Certification centre only a few kilometers away, we decide to head into the night up the hills of gravel. (and me with no light).
With some pushing, riding, walking and guessing we finally reached the end of the climb and flew down to the little red stamp box next to a deserted road, no sign of any settlement or sleeping options. None the less we stamp our passports, smile for the camera and felt relieved that our hill riding in the darkness was over.
Inside the stamp box there were some business cards of motels. Me, my friend Dong Jin, a married couple and one more cyclist bond together and give them a call. A few minutes later a van with a bike rack arrives. Bikes are loaded, we are loaded and before we know it 20 minutes later we arrived at accommodation for the night. We also find many other cyclists there, some of whom we’ve cycled with the previous day.
At this time our stomachs were growling, so we visited the one and only restaurant to eat some rice, a soup with a bit of everything and a few side dishes. Eating together with the older married couple we were obliged to join them for some rice wine. While trying to keep each other’s cups full in came two young guys, one with blood all over his leg, they were not so lucky with their road bikes on the hilly gravel roads in the darkness.
After one too many cups of rice wine we all go off to bed, day 2 done.
Any information about cycling in South Korea.