Jo and I are always looking for fun and interesting things do. When sifting through all the announcements on the Internet, one thing caught my eye a short time ago over on the east coast of Korea – rail bikes. Just what are these things? Well, they are just like what they sound like: bikes that go on rail tracks. When traveling through Korea, I’ve seen a few out the windows of buses or trains, but never had the opportunity to get up and ride them for myself. Since we were planning a weekend in Gangneung for another project, it seemed like a good time to hit up the Samcheok rail bikes, since the town is only an hour south of the City of Pines.
First off, it is important to note, that to ride these rail bikes, a reservation must be made. They can be made at http://www.oceanrailbike.com/. The bike are quite popular, so be sure to plan ahead. Also, note, the reservations can only be made via the website. If you call up on the phone, they will refer you to the website. They even turned away 1330 when they called for me! In addition, foreigner IDs won’t work. Creating a login requires a Korean name and ID. When making your reservation, keep in mind that you’ll be arriving at the bus terminal (Both the express and intercity terminals share a lot). You’ll need to take bus 24 from here to the departure station of the bikes. The bus only runs a few times a day, so be sure to check out the times with 1330 before booking your ride. I recommend booking the rail bikes from Gungchon Station because you’ll be riding down hill. If you book from Yonghwa, you’ll have to ride uphill and no one likes that.
The ride was quite nice. For a group of four, the ticket was W30,000. This really makes the trip idea, since you can chit-chat the entire way. Also, while the briefing videos say not to take pictures or video on the trip, they really don’t care. All of us in our biking unit had cameras out the entire way.
Peddling was easy… if you’re short. standing tall at 194cm, my knees kept hitting the ‘protective bar’ and the peddles were so close to me that I had no power in my thrust. None-the-less, with four people peddling, it went along at a good clip. We even had to brake a few times because we were going too fast.
I can’t say that making the trip out to Samcheok only for the rail bike is worth it. I will say that if you’re in Gangneung for the weekend, and are looking for a fun experience, then it would be fun alternative. Samcheok has a lot to offer visitors, if you book early enough. For those that really enjoy the beach, you’re in luck. Samcheok is known for it’s beaches, and because it’s a sleepy town, they aren’t as crowded as others.