Back Roads Offer 4-Wheelers Some 1st-Class Shakes

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Back Roads Offer 4-Wheelers Some 1st-Class Shakes

Come July, the relentless heat, humidity and stagnant air of Seoul can be overwhelming and draining. For those who cannot stand this weather, escaping the city and getting away to the cool, natural beauty of the mountains is a most enticing idea.

So rather than just stay at home and suffer the heat this weekend, think about relieving some stress by getting away and hitting the tough off-roads of one of the nearby mountains.

Certainly the crowded streets and twisted alleys of Seoul are full of large, intimidating four-wheel drive vehicles and other all-terrain vehicles. Maybe you have wondered what it would be like to take one of them out of the urban jungle and into their more natural home in the country, where you could kick up dirt and drive like one of those rugged-looking television commercials. If so, good news - you can experience the joys of driving some rough off-roads, even if you do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle, at Mount Cheongok, located at the border between Pyeongchang and Jeongseon counties in Kangwon province.

The mountain is a well known site for off-road driving. The mountain has tracks that are less rough than those of other mountains, and even beginners can get to the top of Mount Cheongok easily.

Right below the 1,255-meter summit is a wide field more than 720,000 square meters large (about the size of 100 American football fields) called "Yukbaek-majigi." In the 1960s, local residents used to farm here. Now the tracks once used as farm roads have been transformed into an off-road course.

"The tracks on Mount Cheongok are too easy for real off-roading, and in fact are rather suitable for driving," said Na Myeong-dong, a leader of "Red Wolf," a group of off-roading enthusiasts.

For dedicated off-road drivers, such as Mr. Na, the tracks may be too easy, but they are more than exciting enough for beginners and people driving regular cars.

Driving surrounded by picturesque trees, you will face many steep hills and sharp curves. Be prepared for a bumpy ride. It will take about half an hour on the narrow track to get to Yukbaek-majigi.

If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you may want to try something more adventuresome, such as the route along the Dong River to Yeongwol county. Departing from Jintan Port, drive along the riverside until you come to a rocky track up a mountain.

The rough road continues for only about a kilometer, but it will take some time to complete the route because it is pretty slow going. Jintan is located about five minutes from the village of Hanchi.

And as long as you are at the Dong River, you could also go rafting. The river is renowned for its cleanliness and beautiful scenery. Donggang Leports offers various rafting programs.

For more information, contact Donggang Leports at www.raft.co.kr (Korean version only) or call 033-333-6600 (Korean service only).



by Shin June-bong

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