May 12, 2018 – Day 80

Chungju to Suanbo (32 km)

We decided to make it a short day, which was just as well as it rained steadily throughout the ride and for the rest of the day. The Namhangang River Trail ended for us at Tangeumdae Park just outside Chungju. This is where the royal court musician Ureuk of the Silla Kingdom used to play his gayageum (traditional Korean string instrument). Ureuk is recognized as one of the three most celebrated musicians of all time in Korea.

We are now on the Saejae Bicycle Path which will take us over the Ihwaryeong Pass of the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range. We climbed gradually until we reached the hot springs village of Suanbo. Although still apparently popular for its thermal pools and healing waters, the town’s  infrastructure appears somewhat dated. We are staying in the Suanbo Hot Spring Land Hotel, which has pools and saunas in its  basement. Segregated by gender, no clothes are the norm. It felt good to shed our soggy rain gear and soak our still sore muscles in the 41C waters.
For lunch we again found a tofu restaurant. The number of side dishes (banchan), which even exceeded yesterday’s meal, included what we assumed are the wild mountain vegetables and herbs commonly served in this area. (For carnivores, the region is famous for pheasant and rabbit.) As we relaxed over the meal, the  women who were cooking and serving us were preparing tiny shellfish that looked like periwinkles.
The lunches are so filling (or we are not cycling far enough!) that we are not very hungry in the evenings, so dinner again was snacks from our food bag.


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