CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS
A few weeks back, I found myself visiting a unique tourist spot in South Korea’s Gangwon Province. The entire region used to be full of mining companies and facilities. When the mines closed, many areas were converted to ski resorts, such as the High 1. This is the area that will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Another item that was converted was the railroad in Jeongseon from the Kujulri to Auraji Stations, and it is now a fun rail bike attraction.
Here was our trusty 4-passenger conveyance for the 7 km, one-hour tour. You could probably finish the ride faster, but it depends upon the speed and crazy antics of those in the bikes ahead of you (we had some rowdy youngsters throwing snowballs at each other on this particular trip). The operators recommend you stay around 15 kph to enjoy the scenery around you as you go.
The tour leaves the station at specific times and affords a great view of the surrounding area. The quirky item at Kujulri Station is the set of train cars that have been converted to look like giant grasshoppers, named “A Grasshopper’s Dream”… they seem to be having a fun time. They are actually small cafés and would be a great place to grab a snack or cup of coffee for the ride.
We got buckled into our seats, stopped for a photo op, and then headed out along the track. We passed through a bunch of tunnels – very cool (and very cold in the winter!). There were some staged items along the way, like fake animals, but the real draw is the scenery. I visited in winter, so the snow covering everything was beautiful. I imagine that the Spring and Fall sights will be simply fantastic!
I also noticed a number of traditional burial mounds near a number of the farms. There were many, which I later took pictures of from the bus on the way home. Each farm or house had a simple mound, sometimes unmarked or sometimes with ornate monuments, up on a hillside or in a removed location for the burial of their ancestors.
We arrived at Auraji Station, which has a fun set of train cars shaped like enormous carp that house an ice cream shop – yum! If you have time, be sure to stop for a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant and try a local province delicacy called deodeok, a delicious, grilled root vegetable that reminded me of a carrot. My particular tour group had its own bus waiting, but regular passengers can then board a free train that will take you back to the starting point.
Website: http://www.railbike.co.kr (Korean only)
March to October 09:00 – 18:00, 5 times a day (8:40, 10:30, 13:00, 14:50, 16:40)
November to February 09:00 – 15:00, 4 times a day (8:40, 10:30, 13:00, 14:50)
2-seater bike: Individual 25,000 won / Group 22,500 won
4-seater bike: Individual 35,000 won / Group 31,500 won
10% discount offered for groups of 10 people or more, for both types of bikes.
For a large group, reservations are required.
Show ID at the ticket counter to pick up reserved tickets.
Passengers must arrive at Kujulri Station 20 minutes before the scheduled departure.
Address of Kujulri Station at start
745, Nochusan-ro, Yeoryang-myeon, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do
GPS Coordinates: 37.5169596, 128.7281709
Address of Auraji Station at end
212-7 Yoryang-ni, Yeoryang-myeon, Jeongseon, Gangwon-do
GPS Coordinates: 37.47309,128.7229448
Public Transit Directions
From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Jeongseon Intercity Bus Terminal. (travel time: 3 hours 20 minutes)
From Jeongseon Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi to the rail bike boarding point (Kujulri or Gujeol-ri Station; 구절리역).
(About 40 minutes / 26.42 km away)