October 6, 2003 -- We love writing about great travel deals, even more so when they have a purpose that goes beyond simple vacationing. Consider the 2003 Seoul-Beijing Bicycle Tour, operated by JALPAK International, a relative of Japan Air Lines. For just $1,550, you can get your transportation across the Pacific and participate in this one-time pedal-for-peace trip that runs from South Korea's capital city through China to Beijing and the Great Wall.
That's the price out of several JAL gateways, including Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. From Chicago or New York, the price is just $90 more, or $1,640 per person. Cyclists from many countries are expected to join the ride, which sounds as pleasurable as it may be a way of making a statement for peace in that troubled part of the world. (The tour avoids North Korea, of course, but when you visit the Yalu River, you may be able to look across the border from the safety of China at that impoverished nation.)
The ride takes place from Sunday, October 12, 2003, but you leave the US or Canada two days earlier, arriving in Tokyo on the 11th and having a layover night at an airport hotel. The itinerary works out this way: fly next to Seoul, where you get to Olympic Park, check in and attend an official reception. The next day, you cycle 35 km (about 22 miles) to Kangwhagun, then another 40 km (25 miles) to a temple in the hills, where you spend the night after partaking of a vegetarian dinner. The next day, off to Iuncheon (30 km, 19 miles), where you take an overnight ferry to Dalian, in China (formerly Port Arthur). On October 15, you cycle to Zhuanghe, about 76 km (45 miles). If and when you get tired, you hop on a trailing bus, by the way.
The next day, off to Zhuanghe (85 km, 51 miles) to see where the Great Wall starts (its eastern end). On October 17 and 18, you'll ride about 160 km (96 miles), visiting Shengyang and arriving in Beijing. The tour ends with representatives of the World Tourism Organization feting you at an official closing ceremony and dinner. On October 19, you return to the US or Canada.
It's assumed you will bring your own bike, JAL recommending you bring "a soft case for the bicycle".
For more details, go to www.japanair.com/e/travelplan/vacations/bike03.php or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.