Conquering the 531

Chungju Travel Blog

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After our battle with the nine dragons, we’d decided to head down south to a really big lake between Chungju and Danyang. There were some caves that looked interesting and we thought we’d try to check them out after our mountain climbing adventure. Well unfortunately there wasn’t enough light left in the day, but we did happen to scout out some cool stuff and planned to come back another day. This time Terry’s kids were along for the trip but it didn’t exactly go as planned.


Basically we decided on a bit of a random route to effectively gain a little road trip through central ROK. We happened along a few interesting items including a cool little park along a river with a very old carving of a Buddha on it and an awesome archery range where there were guys shooting traditional Korean style bows reminiscent of Jumong (a Korean TV show.

) It was pretty fun to watch. There were also various statues and monuments but we were eating into our morning already so we decided to press on.


Neither of us had ever been to the area so we were relying on a map that Terry had bought locally. On the map we saw what was supposed to be a highway called the 531 that appeared to run along an edge of a lake that would eventually connect us to another highway that would lead us to the caves we wanted to check out. This ended up the beginning of an adventure as the “531” ended up turning into a one lane, skinny dirt road that appeared as if it might vanish at any time. And when I mean skinny, I mean that had we ended up “stuck” at any point along the road or encountered anyone coming the other way, we would have had to drive in reverse for several kilometers.


However, this road was a road less traveled and we didn’t encounter a soul anywhere along it.

We ended up seeing some pretty cool vistas and drove up a road that looked more like a glorified horse trail which traversed over a mountain pass. It took a good hour of navigating carefully the 20+ kilometers but sure enough we appeared on a dirt road into the back of someone’s farm. As we’d driven along the lake we thought to ourselves how we were probably the only Americans to have been along that route…at least for certain since the Korean War. It seemed pretty likely as the farming Koreans looked up with wide eyes at us as we puttered past slowly.


When we finally found paved road, Terry and I got out of the car and had the kids take our picture with the map in hand to commemorate our conquering of the 531!

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photo by: voordax