From Seoul Land to Jamsil, the hard way

The route is simple. The easy way is to take the subway, and according to an online calculator, it takes 30mins and 1250Won and you feel lethargic and unhealthy after the trip. Let me show you another way, about 6 hours, free apart from some bananas, powerbars and 2 litres of water and plenty of patience. In return you will get some nice sceneries and fresh air. With all the nice mountains around Seoul, there’s no excuse not to do it the old fashion way.

Other more reputable sites will tell you what is in Seoul Land. I’ve only been to the zoo and only because it was free that day. Will it be a surprise if I said there are animals there? In confined spaces. With plenty of noisy kids. Discovering that there are no birds to fling on catapults. So collect yourself at the carpark, run up Cheonggyesan 청계산 due east, come down where Dallaenae-ro 달래내로 meets the expressway, and then crossing some shops and farms, proceed up the second mountain Inneungsan 인릉산 and end up somewhere in Seongnam, close to the airbase and then run along the river up north to Jamsil. 

 I love the Ambit. I had it recording at 1s intervals. I've used it up to 10 hours before, so the battery should be alright for this trip. 
I love the Ambit. I had it recording at 1s intervals. I’ve used it up to 10 hours before, so the battery should be alright for this trip. 
 Map of the entire trip plotted on a map from Google.
Map of the entire trip plotted on a map from Google.

For this trip, I took a backpack with some emergency kit and wore a Suunto Ambit. The screenshot above is what was recorded for the trip. The plots are quite rough but it should be able to hack together a plan for the trip. I find that the best map to use if you had a phone with you would be Daum or Naver since they have the map of the trails. Be aware that the maps are not entirely accurate, sometimes there are sub-path along the way that was created recently. Sometimes they are parallel paths and sometimes it looks like a whole mob went for a shit together and created a new path. 

 Section 1: Seoul Land to Gyeongbu Expressway
Section 1: Seoul Land to Gyeongbu Expressway

Now, to trace the path, take a metro to Seoul Land. Walk due south across the large car park, and run up to a slope where the cars enter and right behind the guard house there is a small path that branches out to the right. I didn’t find it in the beginning. The first time I took this route I bashed myself out of the jungle using another path. This new one is more “official”. What happens is that you walk along a nice concrete path till you get to an area that looks like an exercise area, but is actually the start of the trail, up the ridge of the hill which you will follow, and go uphill all the way to Cheonggyesan. For those that are a little more macho than others, you might want to try and run here, but I don’t think you will last the first small hill. There are a few peaks here, the flatter ones happen to all have helipads on them, but the tallest peak for this trip (where the Cheonggyesan icon is on the map above, has a stone landmark, and of course, a stall selling alcohol. Like most others on this route. 

 Guardhouse just next to Seoul Land car park, you will need to go up a small uphill road to see it
Guardhouse just next to Seoul Land car park, you will need to go up a small uphill road to see it
 Behind the guardhouse
Behind the guardhouse
 And it goes uphill from here. But this is the easy part.
And it goes uphill from here. But this is the easy part.
 I would say it is a nice cool day today, plenty of hikers, no way to get bored. But I only saw one person running this trail today. And it would be me. 
I would say it is a nice cool day today, plenty of hikers, no way to get bored. But I only saw one person running this trail today. And it would be me. 
 First of many temporary trail stores selling rice wine and tidbits
First of many temporary trail stores selling rice wine and tidbits
 This section goes around one of the lower peaks before Cheonggyesan. I didn't run here because the terrain was steep and there was a little traffic jam. The trail is wide enough for one row in most places. 
This section goes around one of the lower peaks before Cheonggyesan. I didn’t run here because the terrain was steep and there was a little traffic jam. The trail is wide enough for one row in most places. 
 Running is fine here, but beware the rocks. This is close to one of the lower peaks, you can tell because the trees here look like they have been battered by strong winds more than once in their lifetime. 
Running is fine here, but beware the rocks. This is close to one of the lower peaks, you can tell because the trees here look like they have been battered by strong winds more than once in their lifetime. 
 First of 3 or 4 helipads that I will see today
First of 3 or 4 helipads that I will see today
 This is the toughest part of the hike, not too dangerous. Relatively speaking. 
This is the toughest part of the hike, not too dangerous. Relatively speaking. 
 Time for a banana break. And yes, I do recommend hiking poles. Uphill they do help transfer some of the load to your hands and provide the 3 point contact for stability, and running downhill they help with balance and you can slalom like skiing. 
Time for a banana break. And yes, I do recommend hiking poles. Uphill they do help transfer some of the load to your hands and provide the 3 point contact for stability, and running downhill they help with balance and you can slalom like skiing. 
 Not sure if these electronic turnstiles are working. There was only one set that I encountered. It could be for counting hikers. 
Not sure if these electronic turnstiles are working. There was only one set that I encountered. It could be for counting hikers. 
 And finally the peak. Actually this is Isubong 이수봉 peak and not Cheonggyesan. Who cares, Cheonggyesan is not on the way for today anyway. And it is all downhill from here.  
And finally the peak. Actually this is Isubong 이수봉 peak and not Cheonggyesan. Who cares, Cheonggyesan is not on the way for today anyway. And it is all downhill from here.  
 Probably the nicest route for the day, Azaleas in full bloom. 
Probably the nicest route for the day, Azaleas in full bloom. 
 Signs of civilisation after Cheonggyesan
Signs of civilisation after Cheonggyesan
 End of part 1
End of part 1
 Part 2: Inneungsan Trek
Part 2: Inneungsan Trek

Once I get to Gyeonbu Expressway, shops start to appear. This is a good place to refill your water, but then it will not be a free trek anymore. Up to you. You know your limits. This is also where you can pick up some outdoor gears, some discount shops or outlets are here, and of course if you want to hang around like the locals, you can have some barbecue and alcohol after a long hike. I didn’t have too much time to stop, and I still had more than half a tank of water in my camelbak mainly because I have been drinking off two bottles of water on the side of my backpack. Still feeling strong, I walked through the village, I don’t have the name of the village, but relied on Daum Maps on my iPhone to get me through to the next trail head for Inneungsan. On the map it does look like this second mountain is longer trek than the first. 

 Going under the Gyeongbu Expressway
Going under the Gyeongbu Expressway
 Navigating using Daum Maps
Navigating using Daum Maps
 iPhones are useful, but since you don't want to keep it on all the time for battery drain, compass like this makes a lot of sense if you know which direction you should be moving. 
iPhones are useful, but since you don’t want to keep it on all the time for battery drain, compass like this makes a lot of sense if you know which direction you should be moving. 
 After crossing village houses, and farms, I finally get to the trail head for Inneungsan. This trail is a little less popular, and I wouldn't see many people at least for the first hour. It goes through a rural road so a map is important or you will probably never find the path. I've been here before so I have a bit of photographic memory left. 
After crossing village houses, and farms, I finally get to the trail head for Inneungsan. This trail is a little less popular, and I wouldn’t see many people at least for the first hour. It goes through a rural road so a map is important or you will probably never find the path. I’ve been here before so I have a bit of photographic memory left. 
 The start is easy enough, more foliage than Cheonggyesan, and quite obvious that the trail is less used since it is narrower and also less of the soil shows through. All along the way there are barb wires splitting the ridge into two, and on the other side is army territory it seems.
The start is easy enough, more foliage than Cheonggyesan, and quite obvious that the trail is less used since it is narrower and also less of the soil shows through. All along the way there are barb wires splitting the ridge into two, and on the other side is army territory it seems.
 Did I just mentioned military?
Did I just mentioned military?
 And another one. In fact there are lot of them around this mountain. 
And another one. In fact there are lot of them around this mountain. 
 Inneungsan peak. A helipad.
Inneungsan peak. A helipad.
 This was after the peak and it was downhill for at least an hour or more. I ran most of the way downhill, but around here I could feel my lower back starting to call out from fatigue. 
This was after the peak and it was downhill for at least an hour or more. I ran most of the way downhill, but around here I could feel my lower back starting to call out from fatigue. 
 Once you get to a clearing turn to the first left and you'll cross this grave site. Right after that you're back to reality. And it is Seoul again once more. I didn't take too many photos on this mountain precisely because once you have been running 4 hours everything gets boring . 
Once you get to a clearing turn to the first left and you’ll cross this grave site. Right after that you’re back to reality. And it is Seoul again once more. I didn’t take too many photos on this mountain precisely because once you have been running 4 hours everything gets boring . 
 Through a village at the end of the trail
Through a village at the end of the trail
 Section 3: From Seongnam to Jamsil - on road
Section 3: From Seongnam to Jamsil – on road

It was a relief to get to the area called Sinchon-dong close to Seongnam. But the best part of the trek is behind me now, and the rest of the way would be just running on pavements and breathing carbon monoxide. What you enjoyed for the last 20km is now going to be given up in the 10km run to Jamsil from here.

 Yawn. At Sinchon-dong going up through Segok-dong.
Yawn. At Sinchon-dong going up through Segok-dong.
 Crossing the river towards Garak Market
Crossing the river towards Garak Market
 Garak Market, now this would be a nice place to stop for a meal, but I have other plans. 
Garak Market, now this would be a nice place to stop for a meal, but I have other plans. 
 Incidentally this is where I stopped recording my Ambit tracks. Time for some cargo loading after a long run. Legs are tired. But the mind is refreshed. 
Incidentally this is where I stopped recording my Ambit tracks. Time for some cargo loading after a long run. Legs are tired. But the mind is refreshed. 

So till another adventure…

Cycling to Port of Shanghai at Waigaoqiao (58km)

My Felt F1X at Jinqiao, Pudong

Woke up today to a great day, and for Shanghai this means cloudless day (there’s almost always some kind of haze over the city) and at least being able to see a shadow. My usual tennis session has been cancelled, and how can I waste such a nice day. First thing that sprung to mind is to attempt what I wanted to do since I arrived here, to reach the Yangzi River, or at least close, by cycling.

Reaching destination, almost time to turn back...

Google maps showed that the best and safest way is to get over to Pudong and then cycling on Yang Gao Rd as there is a bicycle lane on each side of the road. There are normally some slow bicycles, but as motorcycles also use the same lane, there’s always a way to bypass the slow pokes especially when you cruise at 25kmph to 30kmph.

Continue reading “Cycling to Port of Shanghai at Waigaoqiao (58km)”

Buying Tennis Racquets in Hong Kong

It has been some time since I posted something on this website. Not because I have nothing to post, but two main reasons, first is because this ISP I have right now has a range of IP address that’s blocked in China by the great firewall, and second just didn’t find the time to type the posts out and posting it when I get the chance to.
Ok, back to the topic at hand. I’ve been starting to get back into tennis again, and while my old Wilson Pro Staff Kevlar and Pro Staff 6.1 still works fine, I think it is time to get something new.

So during this trip to Hong Kong, I looked up a couple of shops around the Causeway Bay area, and decided to check them out. Everyone knows Roger Federer uses the Wilson [K]Factor Six One Tour 90. Nicely it’s also the only racquet today that resembles the Pro Staff Kevlar but with the modern look, and I’m sure the feel is a little more modern as well, whatever that means. Price was great at 1230HKD, so how can I refuse?

So as of writing, I have placed a deposit to purchase 2, and obviously the strings are separate. Will be mixing Technifibre NRG2 and Head Ultra Tour, both 16 gauge strings in a cross configuration. Tension is my usual 60lbs.

The address of the shop is:
Master Gear
1301 Richmond Plaza (yes 13th floor)
496 Jaffe Road
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3428 5002

And they don’t take credit card. But the guys there are friendly, and they seem to know what they’re talking. That’s good enough for me!

Running in Victoria Park, Hong Kong

I now stay just next to Victoria Park in downtown Hong Kong island next to Causeway Bay, and it would be a sin to not run around it. The hotel concierge mentions something about a jogging track that runs 600 meters. I have recently developed this habit of running at night. Firstly, my workplace has moved farther from home so 30 minutes in the morning is out of the question. Plus I feel more warmed up at night meaning that I can achieve longer distances.
So, back to Victoria Park, my Polar pedometer measured the jogging track at close to 700 meters. But it is rather dark so after one round I ventured to the outer track which passes the football field on the inside, then tennis courts, and so on. On the outer circuit, each round is around 1 kilometre which is perfectly perfect.

Cycling in Shanghai…

After a few months off my bicycle, and because of the long long boring weekend in Shanghai, I decided to go out cycling in my playground, Pudong in Shanghai. Definitely had to dust off significant amount of cobwebs on my modified Felt F1X converted into a pseudo road-bike, and a little bit of voodoo with the weather.
Weather looked cloudy today Monday, but the rain looked sporadic from my apartment’s 31st floor window, and could see that in the direction of Pudong, it was starting to clear up at 1pm. At 2pm I was out the door with the bicycle and attached to the handle bar was a Garmin eTrex GPS just in case I get lost in one of the wide avenues in Pudong and my Polar S625X.

The GPS was set on the info screen where I had altimeter, odometer, moving time and all sorts of average speed. I didn’t want to have the map on so that I dont attract too much attention. The Polar S625X was displaying calories burnt and cadence. Usually I have speed on it instead of energy burnt but since I have that on the GPS, there was no need for redundant data.

My typical route consists of riding eastwards towards the Huangpu river, catch a ferry across (1.3RMB one way for bicycle) and then find my way to the main Century boulevard (I think that’s what they call it). There’s a cycle path next to it where you can do a constant 25-30kmph if you’re up to it. I went till a certain distance and had to turn back because of the drizzle (damn weather!).

GPS plots overlay on GoogleEarth Shanghai

And below on the Polar Pro Trainer data plots, you can see that the red lines are the heart rate (top) and the speed (bottom). For the second half of it, the level is a little lower, and that was because the road was starting to get wet and I did not want to get any mud marks on my back, and some parts of the road are tiled up and slippery. Not sure what was on the builder’s mind!!!

Polar Pro Trainer data collected

And finally, an exercise summary for the afternoon. Started at 2:11pm, rode for 3hrs and 3 minutes and burnt 1860kcal. Nice. Had a nice big dinner tonight to make up for the energy burnt.

Polar Pro Trainer exercise summary

Bicycle Configuration:

  • Felt F1X Cyclocross fitted with full 2006 Shimano Ultegra set
  • American Classic CR420 medium profile wheels
  • Michelin Pro Race 2 tires
  • Garmin eTrex Vista GPS
  • Polar S625X Heart Rate Monitor with speed and cadence sensors

Early Morning Run

Did an early morning run today along the Keelung River in Taipei. Staying in a new hotel on the Neihu side. I cannot do long distances anymore so a typical run is now about 3km at the most. Standard equipment would be my Polar S625X which I cannot run without, mainly for the need to keep a log of my routines. I run about 2-3 times a week and I do keep a record of where I run. The river is surrounded by huge flood control walls, and you have to get up and down 2 storey stairs. It was a cool 25C morning, and the only runners were an expat couple and some mountain bikers. Other than that it was just me and the morning breeze and light sunlight from the east. Nice way to start the day.

Last bicycle ride in France…

It was a nice day yesterday, full sunlight although the temperature was about 9C at the most. Took off for a nice slow ride counter clockwise from Boulogne-Billancourt, up the hill after Chaville/Viroflay into Velizy, and off downhill to Jouy-en-Josas, up to Saclay, detour to Chateaufort looking for the ex-Nortel office (which I did not find), down to Gif s/Yvette, Bures, Orsay, Palaiseau, Anthony, Clamart and back to Boulogne via Issy-les-Moulineaux. Sounds far, but 60km at the most. 61km on my Polar S625X. Twas a nice ride, relaxing, and burning about 2500kcal on the way, but at the same time nostalgic. I dont know when I’ll see those sceneries open air… its definitely different to see them on a bicycle rather than in a car. I had a little fall but when I was stationary trying to balance the bicycle on a pedestrial path. It was stupid but no problem, nothing was damaged except for a bent bottle carrier on my Felt F1X. Anyways, its all over now, coming Thursday, packers will be here and the bike will see the new day in Shanghai!

Morning at the Hippodrome Longchamps

Nice sunny day today in Paris. After 2 slices of bread with peanut butter, its out on the bike for a couple of rounds at the nearby race course. Like the other parisiens, the place was packed with families and cyclists (and also joggers). The cyclists go clockwise, and before long I was already in a 20 strong peloton, and to grow to a bigger group. There were so many people this morning that it was not too easy to  be left alone fighting the wind. Luckily most of the peloton was going at a normal speed (average 30kmph, and up to 40kmph on the level ground) so it was not too bad. The road was a little wet from an oblivious rain sometime last night so if I start to draft a mountain bike I get road juice all over my face.
But nice though, 1hr out there and I covered 35km, which should be about 6-7 turns of the course.

Finally: Rambouillet!

If you remember, a few months back, I attempted to cycle from Paris to Rambouillet (50km away) but my wheel spoke broke just a few km shy of destination. Here’s a link to Google Maps for a rough idea of the route.
So this weekend, I decided to try it one more time on my new wheels and managed to do the whole thing in 4hr 30mins. The odometer on my Polar says 95km to and fro. Average temperature was about 10C. I brought 2 bottles of water (one of them insulated, the other turned into ice water after a few minutes out there) and a banana for the celebratory food once I reached Rambouillet.

Nothing broke this time. When I passed the exact location where my spokes broke I had this feeling that something bad would happened so I slowed down somewhat. But at the end it was all fine. Did my goal now, although the return trip was quite punishing since I had 2 large hills to climb with a sore leg.

I doubt I’ll do it again before leaving France! The next cycle trips will be much shorter for me.

Running in cold weather…

Temperature here in Paris has dropped quite a bit since I last wrote here. This week, its hovering between freezing point and +3-4C during the daytime and you don’t get to see the sun too much.
So over the last few weeks I’ve had some quick experience in jogging in the cold, usually early in the morning when you get the minimum temperature before the sun rises. And it can be summarized in the following:

More than 20C:
This is more like early autumn temperature, no problem here, if you run fast enough, the usual summer gear will suffice. This would be made up of running shorts, short sleeve coolmax shirt to wick sweat, long sleeved thin shirts will do as well to keep the chill off the arm. No cap or anything else is required.

Between 15-20C:
Again, shorts will do, but now maybe a long sleeved shirt will be required. I started with a thicker synthetic long sleeved shirt, but it does feel quite warm after 30mins of warming up during the run. I think a thin shirt would do, but you just have to keep the activity high to keep warm.

Between 5-15C:
Ok, this is a big temperature range. But I feel that in this range you will need at least long tights and a pair of long sleeved shirt. Towards the lower range, you might need a layer of baselayer below the long sleeved shirt as well. Ski shops sell those thin sweat wicking coolmax that will do quite fine. No cap seems necessary. There’s no need to change your shoe as well, in this range I’m running with a standard pair of Asics Kayano with coolmax socks. At the lower temperature range, I would think that a wind blocking top will be required just to keep the wind from reaching your base layer. So… 2 layers for the top, and 1 layer for the bottom. What’s recommended are windblocking (Gore Windstopper, etc) tops and long tights.

Down to freezing:
Windblocking material seems to be a must for the top. I wear a pair of Asics World Performance 5000 top and bottom tights for this temperature. Both top and bottom has this layer of fleece (like Roubaix Pro material, etc) to trap a layer of air. At this temperature any wind will put the chill into you, so windstoppers are essential. Nothing special with the shoe, I wear normal summer shoes but just have to keep on moving. At this temperature, the wind will bite into your head as well, so beanies are essential to cover the ears. No need a balaclava… What pedestrians are afraid of is to see a person running towards them in tights and balaclava.