02 June, 2008

Korea - I came, I saw and I went - alas so quickly (29 May - 2nd June)

Busan to Sokcho - 750km

I'm now in Sokcho Korea, around 30km from the DMZ and North Korea. I rode up from Busan over 3 days. Friday was a 200km journey from Busan to Daegu.

The photo below shows me hitting the streets in Busan, struggling to find the way out of town and the correct route to Daegu.

I managed to get myself into trouble by cruising down the freeway (yep, unbeknownst to myself, like China, bikes are not allowed on freeways in Korea either) and was promptly escorted off by two of Korea's finest!

On Friday night I stayed with John from the Burgman USA forum, and his wife Rachel, who most graciously invited me to stay in their home in Daegu - I had a great time and a great introduction to the very thriving bike scene and shops in Daegu.

Saturday was a 250km journey to Uljin. I needed a cheap hotel so I stayed in a motel which turned out to be a "love hotel"! The pink lights in the hallway, pink towels, frilly doona and pillow cases and bidet in the bathroom (yep, managed to squirt myself in the eye again!) were dead giveaways. Unfortunately I think my hotel room was the only room with a single occupant!
Just prior to Uljin I stopped at a scenic lookout to find two Korean riders (one on an R1, the other on an ST1300) there to greet me.

Sunday I rode a further 200km up the coast to Sokcho and this morning I have taken the Burgie on board the ferry to Zarabino (Russian port south of Vladivostok) and I board in 2 hours.I really like Korea - far more modern and sophisticated than China - and a lot like Japan. All the shop ladies bow when you enter the store etc., and it is really, really clean!

All along the coast there are lots (and lots) of seafood restaurants and many local tourists.

As you get closer to the DMZ a lot of the lesser used beachs are inaccessible, however. Large razor wire fences are permanently located to repel a potential invasion from the North - a stark reminder of just how fragile the peace is in Korea.

The roads are fantastically smooth and Korean drivers are very courteous and follow all the road rules - there really is no comparison.

Unfortunately the flip side of the coin is that it is also quite expensive too. Petrol is now around $1.80 a litre, 2.5 times the Chinese price. Given that the Burgie drinks twice as much fuel per kilometre as the Haobon, my fuel costs are now 5 times higher.

We'll soon see how that compares with Russia. In any case, I have filled the tank on the Burgie before taking the bike on board the ferry, just to ensure I have plenty in the tank in the event I can't buy fuel between Zarabino and Vladivostok.