Korea Diary | Pedal Along Han River (Day 22, Part 1)Athleticism is one trait that I am very much not. Ever since my dad taught me how to do ride on two wheels on the sidewalks by my grandma's house, leisure biking was something I enjoyed as a kid. Once I outgrew my kiddie pink & purple Barbie bike sans the training wheels and dad got too busy to take us to the park, my biking days ended as well.
It wasn't until after Senior Prom in High School when my friends and I decided to go bike in Central Park that it sparked the interest again. I thought I had forgotten how to ride a bicycle given the length of time I had spent off one. However, the saying it's like riding a bike is fairly true once you get over the fear of falling. After I got my feet on the pedals and started the motion of going forward, there was no stop.
Okay maybe there was a stop...many stops. Uphills are still a killer. My legs just can't handle the power needed to trudge up inclines.
When someone mentioned that we could rent bicycles near the Han River or Hangang 한강, I was sold. It may have been a hot and humid summer in Seoul but gliding along near water always leads for a very breezy ride. With all the food we consumed and lack of working out (when discounting walking), an extra dose of exercise was very much welcomed.
We took the train from Sinchon Station to Yeouinaru Station 여의나루역 via multiple subway transfers and left at Exit 1 Yeouido Park. A short walk led us to the bike rental station nearby. There were small children bikes, typical cruiser bikes, single bikes, and even tandem bikes.
I don't have a record for the exact price we paid but I remember it being considerably cheaper than bike rentals in NYC. A site I found on Google seems to confirm my memory as it appears the current prices stand at ₩3,000/hour for a single seat cruiser and ₩6,000/hour for a tandem bicycle. (In NYC prices can be double to triple those prices per hour!) All bikes came with baskets for bags and knick-knacks.
Bestie C, our new UK friend, and I were all too excited for the next couple of hours. Maybe our new friend wasn't 100% happy to be biking since she actually didn't know how to. Hence why we had gotten a tandem bicycle in conjunction with a single seat cruiser.
Apparently there are general rules to consider when tandeming. One major one was the person in the front should probably be tall enough or heavy enough to balance whoever is in the back. Bestie C had wanted to try leading the 2-seater but the staff at the bike rental promptly told her NO!
It was my first time riding a tandem bike and boy was I nervous. I was not only responsible for myself not falling and crashing but also for the safety of a friend that I had just met a couple weeks prior, who might I add was very nervous about being on a bike.
Other than it being more difficult to start off on the tandem bike, after the wheels start moving it felt very much like riding a single. Of course being on mostly flat and nicely paved land helped out a lot. I am not sure I can say the same if there are more uphills along the Han River. There were a lot of professional looking (i.e. in full sweat resistent gear and thin wheeled bicycles) bikers along the Han River, but don't let that scare anyone. For the most part they were nice and, of course, had the ability to go around leisure bikers like us.
One thing that that stood out to me during our biking session in Yeuido Park were the tents. Usually when I think of going to the park, at least in the U.S., people are usually found just laying directly on the grass or on easily packable cloths to soak up some sun. The idea of having to bring a tent and pitch it up seemed like such a hassle. But since Asians are really protective of their skin from the sunlight, I guess the tents shouldn't have been that surprising.
There were many families, couples, and friend groups of all ages in every corner of the park. Many probably brought their own food and drinks. But the interesting thing about Korea was for those that make impromptu outings to parks and inevitably get hungry but don't want to leave the park itself, food can be ordered and delivered to you. We didn't get the chance to try that out but it is something to consider for anyone who has the Korean skills to put to use.
The lunch/snack choice was of course: patbingsoo! I must not have been very hungry or I was super thirsty. While this shaved ice was mediocre and very traditional in the sense that it is most similar to the homemade rustic style, it hit the spot that I needed it to.
Biking along the river was something I was very excited to do. Pedaling a duck/swan boat in the Han River was what I hesitant of. The reason being: I can't swim. It was reassuring to be required to wear a life vest but I was still very nervous.
A 40min session in a pedaling boat was ₩15,000. I don't recall the late penalties but just be sure to slowly fiddle your way back to the starting point after 30min has passed just to be on the safe side. While the motion of pedaling is very easy, trying to steer the boat was a whole 'nother story. There were many times where we bumped into other boats during our short trip out in the river.
The duck/swan boat rental place offered both the pedaling and motorized options. Being the adventurous souls we were, the three of us decided to go with the oh so romantic former choice. Judging by the looks of it an afternoon full of pedaling two different types of moving contraptions left my friends pooped.