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View Full Version : South Korea, DPRK & China (April 2010)



WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 05:52 PM
South Korea, DPRK & China

http://sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/algemeen/vlaggen600.png

Photo's from my last vacation, april this year. First a couple of days in South Korea, one night in Beijing, then 8 days in the DPRK, and finally from Beijing back home. At least, that's how we planned it. Because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, we had to stay another week in China. But you won't hear me complaining about that, I can imagine worse places in the world to get stuck...

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 05:54 PM
Monday April 5th 2010: Seoul

Along Jongo (“Bell Street”), Jongno Tower and Bosingak belfry:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9396.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9396.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9397.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9397.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9410.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9410.jpg)

Around Insadong, the Jogyesa-temple:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9416.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9416.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9417.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9417.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9421.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9421.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9424.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9424.jpg)

Gyeongbokgung palace:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th150/P1020539.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRKSSnBtpmw) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9428.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9428.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9431.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9431.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9445.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9445.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9449.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9449.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/P1020543.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/P1020543.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/P1020552.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/P1020552.jpg)

Statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin, Cheonggyecheon stream:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/P1020553.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/P1020553.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9479.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9479.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9483.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9483.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9485.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9485.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9489.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9489.jpg)

Near our hotel, dinner at a BBQ-restaurant:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9493.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9493.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9494.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9494.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9499.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9499.jpg)

In the Gangnam area across the Han River:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/th150/DSC_9505.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d03-0504/1280/DSC_9505.jpg)

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 05:56 PM
Tuesday April 6th 2010: Seoul

Walking the wrong way, to Ingwangsan (a mountain) instead of Inwangsa (a temple).
(I did practice to read Korean, but did miss that 'n'...)

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020558.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020558.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020560.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020560.jpg)

Seoul city wall, on Inwangsan:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020569.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020569.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020595.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020595.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020602.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020602.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020606.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020606.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020607.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020607.jpg)

Walking back to the city, microwave-lunch in a park:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/videothumbs/P1020610.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvRuEFO6Lf4) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020613.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020613.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020615.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020615.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020620.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020620.jpg)

Near City Hall:

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d04-0604/1280/th150/P1020629.jpg (http://s1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100406_Seoul/P1020629.jpg)

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 06:01 PM
Wednesday April 7th 2010: Suwon

Paldalmun, a Korean bakery:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9538.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9538.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020636.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020636.jpg)

Hwaseong fortress, a 5,7km long fortified wall around the city centre:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020654.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020654.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020655.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020655.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020673.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020673.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020678.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020678.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020679.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020679.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020686.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020686.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020691.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020691.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020698.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020698.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020701.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020701.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020709.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020709.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020729.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020729.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020730.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020730.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020761.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020761.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9520.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9520.jpg)

A market in the city centre, diner at a BBQ-restaurant:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9523.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9523.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9527.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9527.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9531.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9531.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9545.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9545.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_DSC_9549.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/DSC_9549.jpg)

Back in Seoul, around Dongdaemun area, Starcraft on television:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020779.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020779.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020782.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020782.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100407_Suwon/th_P1020784.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d05-0704/1280/P1020784.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th150/P1020789.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4gZVh85yG0)

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 06:03 PM
Thursday April 8th 2010: Seoul

Gyeonghuigung palace:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_DSC_9552.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/DSC_9552.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_DSC_9572.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/DSC_9572.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_DSC_9575.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/DSC_9575.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_DSC_9589.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/DSC_9589.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020801.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020801.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020804.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020804.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020808.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020808.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020823.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020823.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020830.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020830.jpg)

Some views on the streets, I don't know what the protests are about, only that the massive police force didn't want me to take any more pictures:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020849.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020849.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020842.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020842.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020843.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020843.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020848.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020848.jpg)

Deoksugung palace:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020851.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020851.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020855.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020855.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020858.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020858.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020867.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020867.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020875.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020875.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020885.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020885.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020892.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020892.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020898.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020898.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020908.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020908.jpg)

N Seoul Tower at Namsan mountain. Seems like they haven't cleaned the windows since the last time I visited it, three years ago:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020935.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020935.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020964.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020964.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020968.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020968.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020971.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020971.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020973.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020973.jpg)

COEX Convention & Exhibition Center, across the Han river:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020987.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020987.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100408_Seoul/th_P1020988.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d06-0804/1280/P1020988.jpg)

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 06:08 PM
Friday April 9th 2010: flight to Beijing

Train station at Beijing Capital Airport:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100409_Beijing/th_P1020990.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d07-0904/1280/P1020990.jpg)

The A.Hotel underneath the Workers Stadium, lunch at the food court of Yashow market:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100409_Beijing/th_P1020993.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d07-0904/1280/P1020993.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100409_Beijing/th_P1030001.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d07-0904/1280/P1030001.jpg)

Hard Rock Cafe Beijing:

http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100409_Beijing/th_P1030004.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d07-0904/1280/P1030004.jpg) http://i1030.photobucket.com/albums/y367/WizardOpReis/2010-2_KoreaChina/20100409_Beijing/th_P1030006.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d07-0904/1280/P1030006.jpg)

(there's a story behind this, in 2006 when I visited Beijing for the first time, we didn't exactly know where the HRC was, neither did any cab driver or anyone else we tried to ask. After over three hours of searching, we finally gave up. Only to find out later at Google Earth we were only 50 meters away...)

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 06:10 PM
Next will be the most interesting part of the trip, my visit to the DPRK. However, that will take me some more time, I still have to sort some thousands of pictures. I just hope you guys have a little patience...

hbcat
June 20th, 2010, 06:54 PM
Great! Nice work. I look forward to seeing your images from the Stalinist Monarchy.

Did you hear about the "North Korean" (Chinese actors) cheering on their team at the World Cup?:

http://shanghaiist.com/2010/06/16/north_korean_fans_are_actually_chin.php

WizardOfOss
June 20th, 2010, 07:11 PM
Those are the stories that make it such a fascinating place. A bit weird, a bit scary, definitely very wrong, but nevertheless fascinating. Makes me think, I haven't heard a thing about those four missing players...

I'm however a bit surprised that they sent those Chinese people, and not some "real" DPRK-fans. It would have been a great opportunity to show the world how open the DPRK "really" is. Seems like the propaganda-department had an off-day...

lofter1
June 20th, 2010, 07:20 PM
Just think if those loyal comrades decided to defect while in South Africa ...

WizardOfOss
July 10th, 2010, 09:16 PM
Saturday April 10th 2010: flight to Pyongyang

First a short introduction about this tour. As you might know, it simply isn't allowed to travel on your own in the DPRK. Everywhere you go, you'll be accompanied by two guides. It is possible to book an individual tour, but since you have to pay for those two guides, it's a pricey option. We booked a group tour at Koryo Tours (http://www.koryogroup.com/), a Beijing based English company.

Our group consisted of people from all over the world: from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, England, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Until last year, Americans were only allowed to travel to the DPRK during the Arirang Mass Games, but now they can go all year round. Only weird thing is they aren't allowed to return to Beijing by train, they have to fly out instead.

Our plane, an Iljushin Il-62 from Air Koryo, at Beijing Capital Airport. Built in the late seventies, definitely not up to modern standards. But when it comes to actual accidents, Air Koryo might be the safest airline in the world. The food they serve is actually pretty good by airplane standards, the beer however is truly horrible.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9601.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9601.jpg)

After one and a half hour flight we arrived at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport. No problems at passport control with our visa, but customs seems not up to the task of handling about 180 passengers at a time. Not that they really make a fuzz of it, with their X-ray machines they only seem to be looking for cellphones, which you aren't allowed to keep during your stay.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/P1030668x.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/P1030668x.jpg)

Directly outside of the arrival hall is the parking lot, with apart from mostly crappy cars a lot of Mercedeses, and also a North-Korean built Pyeonghwa Jadongcha Ppeokkugi. And of course our bus for the whole tour. Here we also meet our two guides, the very charming miss Kim and the quite mysterious mister Oh.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9602.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9602.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9874.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9874.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/P1030010.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/P1030010.jpg)

The route from the airport to our hotel leads along lots of monuments and huge buildings, Pyongyang is obviously built to impress. But even more impressive is the traffic, or more specifically, the lack of it.

We stay in the Yanggakdo International Hotel, the largest hotel in Pyongyang., 170 meters and 47 stories tall, with 1.000 rooms of which most of the time only a few are being used. And of course with a revolving restaurant on top, let them know you're coming, they might start it up. You won't be short on amenities: several shops and restaurants, brewpub, swimming pool, bowling lanes, pool room and of course karaoke. There's also a basement run by Chinese, with a casino, and a sauna that supposedly isn't a sauna, but a “massage with happy end”. Outside there's a nine-hole golf course, and a driving range where you can directly hit the balls into the river. The hotel is on the Yanggak island in the middle of the Taedong river, and of course you aren't allowed to leave the premises on your own, hence the nickname “the Alcatraz of fun”...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9897.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9897.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9687.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9687.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/P1030229.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/P1030229.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/P1030233.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/P1030233.jpg)

The room is quite OK, a bit dated, but not that different from what you would get in a tourist class hotel anywhere in the world. To our surprise we didn't just get Korean and Chinese stations on the TV, but even BBC World. The view from the 26th floor doesn't disappoint either.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9684.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9684.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/DSC_9895.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/DSC_9895.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/th150/P1030279.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d08-1004/1280/P1030279.jpg)

After some rest we go to the big dining hall for our first DPRK dinner. It's basically something in between Asian and Western food, not good, not bad, and you definitely won't die of starvation.

When we return to our room it's dark outside, which is quite surreal in Pyongyang: you're in the middle of a city with three million inhabitants, but yet outside it's total darkness. Maybe a single car somewhere, but that's it. Probably another blackout, those are quite common. As a tourist, you're not supposed to notice, so the hotel has it's own power supply.

We end our first day in the DPRK in the bar, where they serve a great locally brewed beer. They can keep the Heineken(!) in the fridge. The beer isn't that expensive either, at € 1,40 a pint. Or because they're always short of small change, for two beers you pay 3 euros and get a bottle of water in return...

lofter1
July 10th, 2010, 11:40 PM
Great report.

Any chance you'll get to see the Ryugyong Hotel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel) up close?

WizardOfOss
July 11th, 2010, 08:53 AM
This is probably the closest we got, according to Google Earth about half a mile away, from the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War:

http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/990/dsc0013xi.jpg

I did ask if there was an opportunity to get near the construction site, but we were short on time for a detour. At least that's what the guides told me. Could be, since our schedule was already extremely packed, but it might also be an excuse to keep people at a distance, or just away from that part of town. We'll never know...

lofter1
July 11th, 2010, 12:07 PM
Top part looks ready for blast-off.

hbcat
July 12th, 2010, 11:50 AM
Like a warhead?

WizardOfOss
July 12th, 2010, 02:05 PM
The top six floors are all meant to be revolving restaurants. But if the building collapses its definitely a weapon of mass destruction...

WizardOfOss
July 25th, 2010, 04:54 PM
Day 9, Sunday April 11th 2010: Pyongyang & Kaesong

First a bit about traveling in the DPRK. Basically, you're not allowed to go anywhere by yourself, you will be accompanied all the time by the two guides. They decide where you go and what you see, and if you're lucky, they might take requests from the group in consideration. After breakfast you get on the bus and be rushed around all day. The first couple of days there were only 25 western tourists in the country, bus since most of them are at the same location all the time, they are still getting in the way for pictures...

Taking pictures is also restricted, you're not allowed to take pictures during the bus rides, and of course no pictures of poverty or military. However, after the group has earned the trust from the guides, they get much more relaxed about it. Despite the restrictions I was still able to get about 400 pictures a day on average.

For our first destination we're supposed to dress at our best (well, at least shirt and tie): we're about to visit the Eternal President, Kim Il-sung. Small detail: he died 16 years ago, but still is the official head of state. His former palace has been transformed into a mausoleum, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. As one might expect, camera's aren't allowed inside. It's a huge complex where you're being moved around for hundreds of meters by moving walkways. In the central room of the building lies the embalmed body of the 'Great Leader', where everybody is supposed to bow three times.

Next is an exhibition of all of the medals and honorary degrees he got from all over the world, even from the USA. This is followed by another exhibition about his meetings with world leaders and his travels around the world. He did obviously have a certain preference for the countries he visited. As one of the group members very inappropriately mentioned: a lot of socialism and a bit of sex-tourism (Thailand). After we got our camera's we went outside to the huge square in front of the buildings, where we finally were allowed to get a couple of pictures.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9614.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9614.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9622.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9622.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9629.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9629.jpg)

Our next stop was the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery, a memorial for the heroes of the resistance against the Japanese occupation. At the center of it is Kim Kim Jong-suk, Kim Il-sung's first wife and mother of Kim Jong-il. From the mountain you have a great view over Pyongyang, with the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the May Day Stadium and the Ryugyong Hotel.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9639.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9639.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9642.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9642.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9646x.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9646x.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9648.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9648.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9657.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9657.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/P1030024.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/P1030024.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9662.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9662.jpg)

As we drive back to the hotel for lunch, we pass the May Day Stadium, with 150.000 seats the largest stadium in the world.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9676.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9676.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9690x.JPG (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9690x.JPG)

After lunch we first went to the Foreign Language Bookstore. You'll find bookstores at many of the sights, restaurants and also in the hotel, this one is just a bit bigger, and also sells those marvelous propaganda posters. I however buy a book named ”Backstage Manipulations Disclosed”, about all of the plots against the DPRK, mostly by the US Imperialists as they are named at least twice each page...

Next is the Kim Il-sung Square, the location of most of the military parades. The activities now were a bit more peaceful, children practicing dancing and acrobatics. And maybe, if they're talented enough, one day they can be part of the Arirang Mass Games.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th150/P1030039.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur3NOp_XRTM) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9699.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9699.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9703.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9703.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9709.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9709.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9711.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9711.jpg)

After this we left Pyongyang for a four hour drive to Kaesong, near the DMZ. Once outside of the city the scenery looks mostly desolate. Farmers are working the land by hand, without any modern equipment. Traffic is scarce, mostly people walking or riding a bike. And of course a lot of military, sometimes in a Jeep or truck, nut most of them just walking.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/P1030052.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/P1030052.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/P1030054.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/P1030054.jpg)

When we get closer to Kaesong we have to get through some military checkpoints. At one of them we have a brake malfunction, we crash trough the fence with still some speed. The guards don't have a clue at all how to react, luckily they (at least the few that were actually armed at all) didn't have itchy trigger fingers...

Since we can't get into our hotel yet (soldiers are renovating the water mains), we first go to the tomb of King Kongmin, ruler over Korea during 1351 to 1374. He was buried together with his wife at a beautiful location on a mountain (we're still in the same bus, with the same brakes...) just outside of Kaesong. They were buried with lots of treasures, over centuries no one found an entry, until the Japanese in 1905 just blasted their way into the tomb.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9720.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9720.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9739.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9739.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9740.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9740.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9741.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9741.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9746.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9746.jpg)

We return to the Kaesong Folk Hotel, an traditional hanok style courtyard hotel. Looks nice, but it could use a major renovation, it looks like it's about to collapse. The rooms are equipped with an 'ondol' underfloor heating system, where you sleep on padded mats. Sounds more comfortable than it actually is, the mats are thin, the floor is hard as a rock, and the pillow feels like concrete.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/th150/DSC_9754.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1104/1280/DSC_9754.jpg)

But of course we first have diner, finally something that seems Korean, and tastes very good. I can't say the same about the beer, which is the same as during our flight into the country. After diner we visit the bar, since there's another blackout this is the only place in the hotel where's still some light. Outside everything is pitch black, everything except the huge statue of Kim Il-sung on a hill near the hotel of course. But it's a great place to enjoy some more horrible beers, and to discuss the North-Korean politics and the things we've seen. What else to talk about in the DPRK?

WizardOfOss
September 26th, 2010, 03:05 PM
Day 10, Monday April 12th 2010: Kaesong, Panmunjom & Pyongyang

After a not very comfortable night the blackout still doesn't seem to be solved, no light, no hot water. The breakfast is basically the same we got in Pyongyang, some toast, eggs, and the choice between coffee and tea which both taste about the same. Of course we aren't allowed to leave the hotel premises, but I did get a chance to take a picture of the propaganda picture across the street.

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First we visited the statue of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, on a hill right in middle of the city. Compared to the statue we would visit a couple of days later this one is quite modest.

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Next is the Koryo Museum, a former Confucian school, the current buildings are supposed to date back to 1602. There are lots of objects, dioramas and paintings from the old days, too bad the pace is that fast it's either taking pictures or listening to the stories of the guide. Chollima speed!

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Of course there's a souvenir shop, with lots of postal stamps. I buy a nice collection, and also a lot of postcards with propaganda pictures. Most of them probably aren't that appropriate the send home...

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We take the bus to one of the most interesting parts of the whole tour, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, the border with South Korea, which I already visited from the other side three years earlier. Near the border is a road sign to let us know it's only 70 kilometers to Seoul. So close, yet so far away...

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First we visited the building were the peace negotiations were held, with just a table and some chairs, and no problem at all if you would want to take a seat. Next is the actual building were at July 27th 1953 the armistice was signed. It was build specifically for this occasion, in just 2 days. And of course the guide couldn't stop mentioning how impressed the “American Imperialist” were by this feat. The badly worn cover of the treaty might suggest it would be the real thing, but in fact it's just a replica, touched by too many tourist before they but it behind glass.

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Now we went to the actual border, with the typical blue conference rooms, the only spot where you can actually cross the border for a couple of meters. Outside the building that would be out of the question. It feels quite absurd to be this close to a place I've been before, only separated by a concrete slab a couple of inches hight, but not being able to go there.

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Something that surprised me was how laid-back it all seemed, we didn't even see a single South-Korean or American soldier on the other side, and even most of the North-Korean soldiers left the site right after we were gone. Totally different from the extremely tense feeling you get when visiting from the South, when there were tens of soldiers on both sides, seemingly all with itchy trigger fingers. We were also allowed to take pictures anywhere, no limitations whatsoever, whereas on the south side this was limited to just a few specific locations.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030133.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030133.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030134.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030134.jpg)

Back to Kaesong for lunch, a proper feast was waiting for us. We also got two extra dishes: samgyetang (ginseng chicken) and “sweet meat soup”. Where this sweet meat comes from? Well, remember this is Korea, so make an educational guess...
(by the way, it just tastes like terribly overcooked beef)

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030140.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030140.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030141.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030141.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030152.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030152.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030153.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030143.jpg)

After lunch we went to a viewing point for the “concrete wall”. While this might sound very boring, it actually isn't at all. The wall is an allegedly 5 to 8 meter tall anti tank barrier along the south side of the border. According to North Korea this wall runs along the whole length of the border, while South Korea and the USA simply deny its existence. Because of the distance (over 2 kilometers) it's near impossible to get clear pictures, but based on what I saw looking through the binoculars I'm inclined to actually believe the North Koreans at this one.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/DSC_9856.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/DSC_9856.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030163.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030163.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/DSC_9858.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/DSC_9858.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/DSC_9866.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/DSC_9866.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030166.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030166.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/P1030178.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/P1030178.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/th120/DSC_9872.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d09-1204/1280/DSC_9872.jpg)

Time to head back to Pyongyang, when we enter the city we make a stop at the Arch of Reunification, two women dressed in traditional hanbok clothing, supporting a map of a reunified Korea.

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ablarc
September 26th, 2010, 06:19 PM
Fascinating. What an exotic trip you had! What were the auspices under which you took it?

WizardOfOss
September 27th, 2010, 08:17 PM
I'm not sure if I understand your question correctly, you want to know how the Koreans were keeping an eye on us? Otherwise please let me know.

To visit the country you have to get a visa in the first place. For most people not that much of a problem, but they definitely don't like journalists. If they have any reason to believe you are one of any kind, you can probably only get a even more restricted private tour, not a regular group tour. You also have to provide them with information about your employer, as far as I know they haven't checked anyone of our group, but I read from other people on the web their employers did get a phone call from some DPRK government official to confirm the provided information.

Once you're inside the country you will be accompanied by two guides basically everywhere you go. In fact, they simply decide where you go, when you go, how long you stay. They might listen to preferences, but in the end you have to do as they tell you, whether you like it or not. The only alternative would be that you stay at the hotel all day, but don't even think to get out. At most places you visit would be a local guide. Everything is organized to the last bit, they always know a group of tourists is on the way.

The two guides play different roles. The first one (ms. Kim, standing on the left in the first picture of the concrete wall) acts like a tour guide like anywhere else in the world: organizing everything, informing us about anything, telling stories and jokes on the bus, learn us some Korean words, and a couple of times she even joined us for a couple of drinks at the bar (ending up telling things she better shouldn't have, though no political stuff of course). She did speak English quite well, and seemed sincerely interested in how we lived back at home, and how we experienced North Korea. Just a fun person to have around, but of course even after a week she never fell out of her role of perfect DPRK citizen, with nothing but respect for the Great Leader and Dear leader.

The other guide (mr. Oh), was more of a mystery to us. He probably has a military background (and not only because our guide from Koryo Travel referred to him as General Oh), and didn't seem to do a lot. Most of the time he just followed the group, making sure no one kept too far behind. He was also responsible for most of the official stuff, keeping our passports and visas, or handing them over to some even more mysterious guy somewhere on the streets. I tried to have a conversation with him a a couple of times (mostly when I was the one trailing behind), but I'm still not sure how much English he really did understand, most of the time the only response I got was a laugh. He was however of great value at the bowling alley...

Only at the DMZ we where accompanied by a couple of soldiers (after all, you are entering an more or less active war zone), for the rest of the tour it was just the guides.

Of course there are rumors of hotel rooms being bugged, could be true, could be utter bullshit, we'll never know for sure. But as our guide from Kory Tours said, why would they? If they want to know your opinion on something, they would just ask. Besides, most people would speak in their native language at their room, for half the group, that wouldn't be English. And I'm not sure how many spies they have that would understand Dutch, Danish, German, Polish, Latvian or Italian...

Nevertheless he recommended to keep respectful of their culture and political system at all times. And that's quite though, you tend to get very cynical when they mention the many great feats of the Great Leader for the twentieth time a day...

Bob
September 28th, 2010, 10:49 PM
North Korea needs to join the party, and get with the 21st century. In other words, lighten up. I suspect the only reason China tolerates its bad boy neighbor to the south is that it would prefer not to have a U.S. puppet government on its border.

WizardOfOss
September 30th, 2010, 04:09 PM
I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. Not to defend the DPRK government, but the west doesn't really leave them any other option. As long as the US has not only a huge political and economical influence in South Korea, but is even officially in command of the South Korean army, there simply can't be a reunification. North Korea is at war with the US, not with South Korea or any other country.

That said, we had a couple of Americans in our group (this is the first year Americans can visit the country outside of the Mass Games-season), of which one even had South-Korean origins and did speak the language. But no hostility or whatsoever towards them, not from the guides (of course not), not from soldiers we talked to at a flower exhibition (millions of Kimilsungia's and Kimjongilia's...), not from the local people we talked to. They were actually pretty surprised about Americans visiting their country and interested in their view on the situation.

As for me as a Dutchman, even in North Korea they are very proud about their fellow Koreans reaching the semi-finals in the 2002 football world cup with Guus Hiddink as head coach. Something most people in South-Korea already seem to have forgotten...
(remember I visited the country well before this year's world cup...)

WizardOfOss
March 27th, 2011, 04:11 PM
In three weeks I'll go back to the DPRK, together with some of the group members of last year. Seems like the right time to at least try to complete what I started...

Day 11, Tuesday April 13th 2010: Pyongyang

A whole day of museums and monuments in Pyongyang, starting with the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. A huge museum about the Korean war, of course from the North Korean point of view. The first thing we get to see is a video (http://vimeo.com/10278203) about the most important fact: the US started the war...

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Next are numerous rooms with impressive dioramas, some other videos mostly about the atrocities committed by the US army, and of course lots of photographs and paintings of Kim Il-Sung.

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In the basement of the building is a huge collection of planes, tanks, Jeeps and other military stuff. In fact, the museum was actually build around it. Our visit to the museum ends with an amazing diorama, built all around a revolving floor.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9947.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9947.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9972.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9972.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9987.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9987.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9991.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9991.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9997.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9997.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_9999.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_9999.jpg)

Outside the museum are the Monuments to Victorious Fatherland Liberation War. Here we also have a nice view at the Ryugyong Hotel, under construction since 1987.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0011.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0011.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0016.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0016.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0018.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0018.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0025.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0025.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0031.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0031.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0045.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0045.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0047.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0047.jpg)

Next is the Pyongyang Film Studio, which according to the guides is visited by Kim Jong-Il at least once a week. Most of the sets are outdoors, and are actually complete buildings. There's a palace and a traditional village (with the Ryugyong Hotel prominently in the background...), but also whole streets in European, Chinese and Japanese style. And of course there's also a South Korean street, with a STD clinic next to a “gentleman's club”...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0056.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0056.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0060.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0060.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0067.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0067.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0069.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0069.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0079.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0079.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0085.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0085.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0087.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0087.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0092.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0092.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0105.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0105.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0107.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0107.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0118.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0118.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0130.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0130.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th120/P1030225.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXS-znpfl6U)

On our way back to the hotel for lunch we pass a billboard for cars produced in the DPRK. Supposedly there are just five billboards in the country, and that's exactly the number we've seen during the week...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0149.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0149.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/P1030240.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/P1030240.jpg)

After lunch we visit the shelter from where Kim Il-Sung led his troops through the war. Quite boring, the most interesting was the water well from which the Great Leader himself also drank, of course we could also give it a try.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0158.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0158.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0161.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0161.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0162.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0162.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0175.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0175.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0187.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0187.jpg)

Next is probably the largest museum in the country, maybe even the world: the Museum of Metro Construction. Ridiculously large (but no heating so inside was a chilly 8 degrees Celsius...), there are even a couple of rooms about the construction of the museum itself, which our (English) guide appropriately called the Museum of the Construction of the Museum of Metro Construction. According to him this should be the highlight of the museum, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to visit it. Taking pictures was also strictly prohibited, except for the huge painting at the entrance.
(is Kim Jong-Il trying to look taller by standing on his toes or does it just look that way?)

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/P1030242.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/P1030242.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0194.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0194.jpg)

The museum itself isn't really about the construction of the metro. It's mostly about the on the “on-the-spot guidance” of Kim Il-Sung: pictures of him picking the right color of marble or inspecting the blueprints, a chair he sat on, a mug he drank from, the scissors he used at the opening ceremony of one of the stations, and lots more. And of course there are a couple of very impressive dioramas, most of them with Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il at the center of it.

On to the Three-Revolution Exhibition, several museums about the technological and industrial merits of the DPRK. First is a museum about industry, mining, power plants and so on. Most important are the CNC machines, a recent “invention” of the DPRK. Something they are really proud of, since this is what made their space program and of course the atomic bomb possible. That's also why there are signs about CNC at the streets, and there's even a CNC-song (http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/bSN2DPEtZ7k/)...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th120/P1030244.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-Rd66sa_hA) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0210.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0210.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0221.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0221.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0223.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0223.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0225.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0225.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0242.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0242.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/P1030250.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/P1030250.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/P1030257.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/P1030257.jpg)

After buying an authentic North-Korean travel guidebook we visit the planetarium, a large concrete sphere. Inside we first get to see a couple of videos about their space program. After that it starts to get hilarious: we get a lesson about our Solar System. But since the inside of the sphere consists of unpainted concrete, the projected images are terrible, our blue planet looks just as gray as the red planet or the green planet. And the fact all planets are shown at almost the same size doesn't help either. So they try to make things clear by using a laser pointer, but I got a feeling the guide didn't have a clue either where to point at...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0208.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0208.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0281.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0281.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0285.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0285.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th120/P1030261.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUrIJeC6pQY) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th120/P1030262.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAOfsAk_Zas)

And finally, the last sight of this long day, the Monument to the Party Founding. Regular communism is often symbolized by a hammer and sickle. The DPRK however has a third item: a brush, symbolizing the “working intellectual”. But from certain angles, it looks like the hand is holding something very different...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/video/th120/P1030272.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw1sr6EJqAA) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0293.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0293.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0294.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0294.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0310.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0310.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0313.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0313.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/DSC_0332.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/DSC_0332.jpg)

We have dinner at a restaurant in the city, some kind of hotpot, which actually tastes very good. Afterwards we return to our hotel.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/th120/P1030276.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d11-1304/1280/P1030276.jpg)

WizardOfOss
April 2nd, 2011, 09:03 PM
Day 12, Wednesday April 14th 2010: Mt. Myohyang & Pyongyang

The view from the hotel, the traffic actually seems busy!

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_KQh6QrrhzRg.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQh6QrrhzRg)

Today we went to the Mt. Myohyang area. We first visited the Pohyon-sa temple, first built in 1024, partly destroyed during the Korean War, but most of it has been reconstructed since.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0352.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0352.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0354.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0354.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0358.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0358.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0371.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0371.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0382.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0382.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0383.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0383.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0385.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0385.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0387.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0387.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0401.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0401.jpg)

The main reason to visit this area however is the International Friendship Exhibition. Both father and son Kim have a huge treasurehouse here to showcase the presents they received from all over the world. Most of the buildings is actually deep inside the mountains, they are more like a bunker than a museum. Camera's aren't allowed inside, the pictures of the collection are scanned from a book I bought.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0444.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0444.jpg)

We are first shown the gifts to Kim Il-Sung, supposedly over 200,000. Room after room with the most bizarre items from all over the world, including the US. Paintings, sculptures, vases, swords, guns, cars, a train and about everything else you can or even can't imagine. At the end of the tour there's of course a souvenir shop, and we get our camera's back to take some pictures of the surrounding area.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/MyohyangKIS1.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/MyohyangKIS1.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/MyohyangKIS2.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/MyohyangKIS2.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0419.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0419.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0446.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0446.jpg)

On to the other building, with the presents to Kim Jong-Il. Far less than his father got, and also more practical stuff, like an iMac he got from a CEO of Samsung. But still most of it was more of the same.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0452.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0452.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030307.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030307.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030313.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030313.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030318.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030318.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/MyohyangKJI1.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/MyohyangKJI1.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/MyohyangKJI2.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/MyohyangKJI2.jpg)


After lunch at a nearby restaurant we return to Pyongyang.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030323.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030323.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_zkjfs6kuwBI.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkjfs6kuwBI) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030333.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030333.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030334.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030334.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030340.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030340.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030352.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030352.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030360.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030360.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_M_5uw7_CoVA.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_5uw7_CoVA)

Back in town we visit the Mangyongdae School Children's Palace. This is a huge place for extra-curricular activities for the most talented children. Music and dance, but also arts and crafts like calligraphy and embroidery.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030376.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030376.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030378.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030378.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0471.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0471.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_dFKPMZzq7yA.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFKPMZzq7yA) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_Qtl2hsHgVrw.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qtl2hsHgVrw) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0477.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0477.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0479.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0479.jpg)

After visiting some classrooms while trying to keep ahead of a large group of Chinese we go to the auditorium for a phenomenal show.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_a7QopafcETc.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7QopafcETc) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0492.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0492.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_2Q7YEeySeyk.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q7YEeySeyk) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0506.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0506.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030402.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030402.jpg)

After the show we visit the “local pub”, somewhere hidden in an alley in an anonymous office building, probably the last place someone would look for a drink. It's a brewery pub with great beer. Next we have diner in a restaurant nearby, at first mostly very bland stuff, but later also a great bibimbap. The beer at the restaurant was of the kind I hoped not to see for a week...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030406.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030406.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/P1030420.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030420.jpg)

At night there was supposed to be a surprise, which actually starts while we're still on our way back to the hotel. Since this is the night before the birthday of president Kim Il-Sung there's a huge fireworks display. There are hundreds of trucks carrying soldiers on the road, causing even some serious traffic congestion, when the fireworks begin they all get out and watch. Too bad we aren't allowed to join them, we first have to get to the hotel. But no problem at all, as the fireworks display goes on for hours...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0574.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0574.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/DSC_0594.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/DSC_0594.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/YouTube_y3W1N9hBDKc.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3W1N9hBDKc)

After some time we go back inside the hotel, and visit the casino, run by Chinese. It's not that much, some slot machines half of which are out of order, two blackjack tables and two roulette tables, but it still is the main reason for Chinese to visit the DPRK as some sort of cheap alternative for Macau. We end our day again at the hotel bar, where we try their most intriguing drink: a huge bottle with a snake inside. Turned out I was the only one who didn't think it was absolutely disgusting. And that's a good thing, since I never received the pictures someone took, so in a few weeks I'll have to give it another try...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/th120/PY_Casino.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/PY_Casino.jpg)

ablarc
April 6th, 2011, 06:54 PM
Thanks for your hilarious tour.

How come these bozos don't see how comical they are?

lofter1
April 6th, 2011, 09:35 PM
Comical?

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d12-1404/P1030318.jpg

ZippyTheChimp
April 6th, 2011, 09:50 PM
Absolutely. Right down to the cigarette and ashtray.

scumonkey
April 7th, 2011, 12:33 AM
^That wouldn't happen to be painted on black velvet would it?!

WizardOfOss
April 7th, 2011, 04:40 PM
Sorry, I don't have the slightest idea.

And comical? Wait until you see the picture of Kim Jong-Il at the West Sea Barrage visitor centre :cool:
(and remember, you have to be respectful of both the Great Leader and Dear Leader at all times, so don't even dare to laugh...)

By the way, from the 21st till the 28th of this month I'll again visit the DPRK. This time we'll also visit the Pyongyang Art Studio, the place where most of those paintings, propaganda posters and mosaics are made. Should be pretty interesting.

lofter1
April 7th, 2011, 04:56 PM
What do you find regarding food and meals in the DPRK?

Or is drinking snake cocktails the alternative to eating?

And does everyone have teeth as straight and white as seen in the official images (http://www.amazon.com/Cleanest-Race-Koreans-Themselves-Matters/dp/1933633913/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266298341&sr=8-1)?

http://mhpbooks.com/media/image/medium/CleanestRacecvrfinal_small_2009-12-07-13-12-57.jpg

ZippyTheChimp
April 7th, 2011, 05:02 PM
^That wouldn't happen to be painted on black velvet would it?!Traditional Korean Landscape Art + Photoshop People?

WizardOfOss
April 7th, 2011, 06:39 PM
Photoshop in Korea? Probably not. But I hope to have some better answers in a few weeks.


What do you find regarding food and meals in the DPRK?

Or is drinking snake cocktails the alternative to eating?The meals aren't that bad, although most of it is pretty bland compared to Southern Korean or Chinese food. Most of the meals are some mixture of Korean, Chinese and western cuisine. But you won't starve to death, after all, no one will in this socialist paradise. Of course that's what they want us to believe, you'll never know what the reality for the local people is, especially outside of Pyongyang. Our guide from Koryo (this was his 88th tour) had the impression things have improved quite a bit, but in the end he doesn't know either.

But nowadays they even have a Italian restaurant (the cooks are actually trained in Italy!) and even some burger joints. We hope to visit both on our next tour.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkEiYqxPnXc


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7afMfaK9U8


And does everyone have teeth as straight and white as seen in the official images (http://www.amazon.com/Cleanest-Race-Koreans-Themselves-Matters/dp/1933633913/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266298341&sr=8-1)?The best dentists are from the DPRK, didn't you know? :D But indeed, I don't think there's a single painting of Kim Il-Sung and only few of Kim Jong-Il without a bright white smile.

Of course most people don't have those perfect teeth. That said, I've seen only a few people with really bad teeth, much less compared to China. Maybe knowing there's a regular shortage on sedatives makes people brush their teeth better...

WizardOfOss
April 12th, 2011, 07:32 PM
Day 13, Thursday April 15th 2010: Kim Il-Sung's birthday!

It's a special day today, as it's the birthday of President Kim Il-Sung. He might be dead for 16 years, but he's still the president of the country, and he sure isn't forgotten. Enough reason for a national holiday, well, even two. A great opportunity for us to mingle with the locals.

After buying flowers which we would need later we visit the Mansudae Fountain Park.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0601.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0601.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0604.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0604.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0622.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0622.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0635.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0635.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030438.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030438.jpg)

Next is the Mansudae Grand Monument, the biggest and most important statue of The Great Leader. It was a gift to himself for his 60th birthday, originally this huge bronze statue would be covered with gold leaf. The Russians prevented this however, since at the the time they were basically funding the DPRK economy. A visit to this monument is an obligatory part of any tour to the DPRK, tourist are expected to lay flowers and bow to the Great Leader.
(This is basically the only time paying respect to the regime is absolutely obligatory, all other occasions are more or less optional. If you have a problem with that, don't visit the country)

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0641.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0641.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030455.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030455.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0690.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0690.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0647.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0647.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0697.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0697.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0708.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0708.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0701.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0701.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030449.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030449.jpg)

The next stop is also all about both the leaders, but much more relaxed. The Koreans named flowers after them, the Kimilsungia (an orchid) and the Kimjongilia (a begonia). And at the Kimilsungia Kimjongilia Festival there are millions of them. It's a very busy place with thousands of soldiers and school children, we're free to walk around and mingle with them. Once outside they sell ice cream, and some of our group (unfortunately not me) are interviewed for television.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0722.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0722.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0731.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0731.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0737.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0737.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0758.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0758.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0772.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0772.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0786.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0786.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0790.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0790.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0793.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0793.jpg)

On to Moranbong Park, the central park of Pyongyang. Again lots of locals, having a barbecue with lots of booze, and mostly old ladies singing and dancing. Needless to say we simply have to join them, it's not like we have a choice...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030470.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030470.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030483.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030483.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0808.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0808.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0815.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0815.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_QuboXHOmMqE.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuboXHOmMqE) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0822.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0822.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_zXfqjGzWArA.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXfqjGzWArA) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0838.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0838.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0852.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0852.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0858.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0858.jpg)

Unfortunately no barbecue for us today, we take the bus back to our hotel, where they started up the revolving restaurant. Not that the view is that spectacular...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0939.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0939.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030502.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030502.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030508.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030508.jpg)

After lunch we visit the Pyongyang Circus, for a great show with acrobats, trapeze acts, bears and of course clowns.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030519.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030519.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_f9sj-0ZFV6E.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9sj-0ZFV6E) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0907.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0907.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_Wi2_jnRRNRo.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi2_jnRRNRo) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0914.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0914.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_Ci27UgYBcvE.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci27UgYBcvE) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0922.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0922.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_Rd9nmXFY5Cw.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd9nmXFY5Cw) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_kHc_VtD6V-A.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHc_VtD6V-A) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/Youtube_JFVjYit4VMw.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFVjYit4VMw) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0929.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0929.jpg)

On to something more serious, the USS Pueblo. An American spy ship, captured in Korean territorial waters in 1968. One of the crew members was killed, the others were sent to POW camps. After full confessions of the crew and a formal apology of the US government they were released, the ship however is still in Pyongyang.
(By the way, on my second tour starting next week we might meet someone of the crew who actually captured the ship.)

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/P1030538.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/P1030538.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0947.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0947.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0955.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0955.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0964.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0964.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0966.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0966.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0970.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0970.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/th120/DSC_0975.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d13-1504/DSC_0975.jpg)

Finally we visit Mangyongdae, the alleged birthplace of Kim Il-Sung. Not too poor but nevertheless quite simple, to highlight is humble origins. Whatever is true of the story remains to be seen, for the Koreans it's kind of a pilgrimage site, but for us tourists it's pretty boring.

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At the end of the day our bus takes us to the Nampo, the third largest city of the DPRK, we'll stay outside of the city in a spa hotel. All of the rooms have a hot spring bath, which is actually pretty nice. But one advice of the guides: don't stay in for more than 15 minutes, otherwise terrible things might happen...

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The food is also pretty good here, for once no fried fish, but perfectly grilled chicken and duck. After dinner we spend the evening in the hotel bar, we had the feelling it might be possible to drink the bar dry. We don't succeed, but that's not because we didn't try. But what happens in Nampo stays in Nampo...

ZippyTheChimp
April 12th, 2011, 09:53 PM
The Grand Monument reminds me of a National Geographic documentary I saw last year. A team traveled to North Korea with Nepalese eye surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanduk_Ruit).

One day they were permitted to visit the monument with their cameras. One of the photographers laid on the ground to get a good angle on the huge statue. Apparently, a huge mistake. One of the "minders" got upset, and told him he would have to leave the country. As I remember, they didn't really throw him out.

WizardOfOss
April 13th, 2011, 06:45 AM
The site is about as sacred as they get in the DPRK, so although you're free to walk around and take pictures, you have to be respectful at al times. So no funny angles, only pictures of the whole statue, and while it's perfectly fine to have your picture taken in front of the statue, don't even think of copying the pose.

Most people visit the Grand Monument on the day they arrive in Pyongyang, when the guides don't know the group and as a result are very strict and act a bit nervous. After all, they might have to face the consequences when someone misbehaves. But if everyone keeps to the rules and behaves respectful, they soon get a bit more relaxed, then you can even get away with things that are officially forbidden.

For our upcoming tour we asked for the same guides as last year, so we can skip most of the strict phase. But we'll only know if our request is granted when we step out of the plane in Pyongyang.

MidtownGuy
April 14th, 2011, 04:43 PM
Thank you so much for this fascinating glimpse into NK! It's interesting to see the normal food they were eating because they tell us the North Koreans are practically eating boiled sticks and cardboard over there. Dancing, flower festivals...I guess it isn't actually HELL like we're told? The cities do look dreadfully bleak, but apparently there's much to like because you're already going back:eek:. Have a great trip!!

WizardOfOss
April 14th, 2011, 06:51 PM
Thanks!

The problem with everything you see is you don't know what's real and what's not. Pyongyang is basically a showcase city, it's a privilege to live there. There's enough food and water, usually reliable power supply, public transportation, some shops that actually have something to sell. And most important: while other cities at best have grumpy men to control the busy traffic, in Pyongyang they let the prettiest girls do the job. But still, while from street level it might look bleak but still not that bad, that's merely a facade. When looking from the restaurant on top of the hotel it's obvious large parts of the city are just slums. According to our (English) guide the food situation seems not as bad anymore as a few years ago, although he also still sees just a small part of the country. Also, while I don't think this visit to the park was completely staged (there were thousands of people having good fun), it could be they were supplied with the food just to fool us. The next day we had a BBQ in another park just outside the city, many of us somehow had the feeling the Koreans in the park weren't there by accident, like they were brought in not to show us a completely deserted park (and they brought better food than we got). But even in the worst of situations people probably will still try to make the most of it, even in the DPRK it's not against the law to have fun.

About my upcoming trip, I wasn't really planning on going back this soon, but one of the group members came up with the idea of a tailor-made tour. Most group tours are more or less the same, first and for all meant for first time visitors. And since you'll have to pay for the two guides and the driver traveling on your own is pretty expensive (a week in a pretty nice hotel in NYC including the flight would be cheaper), now we can split those costs by four persons. So this was too good an opportunity to be missed. Otherwise I might have had a problem, before she came up with that plan I was thinking of visiting northeastern Japan...

Today we got some disappointing news: we expected to visit Hamhung, the second city of the country, where we hoped to attend a military parade on the 25th of April ("Military Foundation Day"). We already knew the main road from Wonsan to Hamhung was closed because of "roadworks" so we would have had a detour on some crappy roads never used for tourists. But according to the Korean travel agency there has been an "accident", that route is now also closed for tourists, with no other way to get there (we could use a train, but electric trains and regular power blackouts aren't a very good combination if you're on a tight schedule...). Must have been a huge pile-up I guess, since they still have over a week to fix it...

Next Monday I'll fly to Beijing, I hope to finish the DPRK-part of this tour before I leave. One full (and busy) day to go, and a few pictures from the sleeper train back to Beijing. Then there's still a week of China left we got as a result of the Icelandic ash cloud, but that will have to wait...

MidtownGuy
April 18th, 2011, 03:09 PM
A tailor made tour sounds very cool, WizardOfOss...I'm sure I'm not alone in saying we're excited for a future update.

WizardOfOss
April 19th, 2011, 12:42 PM
You'll have to have a little patience I'm afraid, while I hoped to finish the DPRK-part of the story before this new trip, it didn't work out that way. Today I arrived in Beijing, the day after tomorrow I'm flying to Pyongyang, and be completely off-line for a week.

Some news about the Hamhung-situation though: the "accident" after all seems to be very serious, not some weird excuse not to allow us into some parts of the country. There have been reports (by international organizations, not a word of the DPRK government so far) of huge wildfires in that region, which because of a very dry period are totally out of control.

But the good news is I was wrong about the location of the military parade, that would be in Wonsan, a city we will still visit, at least as far as we know right now. So assuming there actually is a military parade (those aren't advertised for tourists, but that day it is Military Foundation Day, and there is going to be a big but otherwise unknown event at the main city square. Even in the DPRK 1 plus 1 equals 2....) and we haven't screwed everything up with our guides, we'll still be attending the parade.

WizardOfOss
April 29th, 2011, 08:25 AM
Yesterday I returned from my second tour to the DPRK (today I got from Beijing to Hong Kong), but I think I'm getting addicted to the country. This second time we've seen a lot more of the everyday life of the Koreans, which only stresses the distinction between the horrible regime and the hopeless situation of the people. We visited some farms, schools, department stores and even someone's house, but while these are specifically selected for tourists and are way above average in the country, the extreme poverty is very, very obvious.

One of the highlights however was meeting the commanding officer of the capture of the USS Pueblo in 1968, nowadays one of the biggest heroes of the country. He guided us around the ship, and told in great detail how everything happened that day. But different from the video we'd seen last year or about any other situation where Americans are mentioned, there wasn't even the slightest hint of hatred against the US, it was just him doing his job against Americans doing theirs.

a totally different experience was the visit to the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities, where we also met a men who as a six year old kid supposedly was one of only three survivers of a brutal massacre. Although probably part of the story is true, it's been built up to the extreme. American monsters versus those poor Korean farmers. Humiliation, rape, torturing, gruesome murders, all done by soldiers who in the paintings all look like the devil himself.

Too bad we didn't get to see a military parade, because this year is Juche 100, they had preparations for other events later this year. We did however attend the Grand Magic Festival in the colossal May Day Stadium, quite hilarious and by western standards definitely not worth 80 euros, but somehow that's probably as it should be in the DPRK. And I'll probably never again see a magic trick using a real helicopter flying around in the stadium. We also visited the Kumgang ("Diamond") Mountains, by any standards a magnificient area.area

As for the American influence, not only have we seen the only Hummer in the country (a army-green H2), Coca-Cola also seems to have gained quite some popularity, last year we hadn't seen it at all. The funny thing was most of the time our Korean guides and driver were drinking Coca-Cola, whereas we tourists (including one American) were drinking the Korean Taedonggang beer...

And finally the recipe for a great BBQ: take 10 kilograms of clams and spread those on a piece of cardboard. Light a piece of the cardboard on top. Take plastic bottle with one liter of gasoline, and spray it calmly onto the clams. When all of the gasoline has burned, the clams are done. Best combined with some mushroom soju (30% alcohol, 0.3 liter bottles, at least 3 bottles per person...).

Of course there were many more highlights, these were just some things that popped up. I'm already thinking of a third tour next year during the Arirang Mass Games...

WizardOfOss
August 6th, 2011, 08:42 PM
For those interested in some original North Korean publications , the Korean Friendship Association (http://www.korea-dpr.com/) (a rather creepy organization sympathizing with the DPRK) is offering two North Korean books for download (PDF):



Panorama of Korea (http://www.uk-songun.com/web_documents/panorama_of_korea__e_.pdf) (1999), 290 pages of Korean history, politics, the country nowadays, and lots of pictures. Of course everything is written from the DPRK point of view, so you have to take most of it with a grain of salt...
Panmunjom (http://www.uk-songun.com/web_documents/panmunjom-e.pdf), 35 pages about the "truce village" on the Korean border. With lots of pictures explaining the history, again of course from the DPRK standpoint, which isn't very favorable for you "American imperialist agressors"...

lofter1
August 7th, 2011, 01:31 AM
Gotta love the creative writing, not to mention the big admonition on the first page:

Wipe out the US imperialist aggressors, the sworn enemy of the Korean people!

PANMUNJOM is crossed by the Military Demarcation Line drawn by the US imperialist aggressors to divide Korea artificially. It is a stern court which indicts their aggression and exposes and condemns their crimes to the whole world.

It was here that the US imperialists, who started an aggressive war to swallow Korea whole in June 1950, knelt before the Korean people and signed the Armistice Agreement. It is also here that, after the war, they made many apologies for their criminal military provocations and hostilities committed against the northern half of the country in gross violation of the Armistice Agreement.

Panmunjom still remains a stern court indicting the US imperialist aggressors who perpetrate their manoeuvres for a new war, bringing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war ...

WizardOfOss
August 7th, 2011, 10:11 AM
Wait till you see the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities, probably the most absurd bit of propaganda on this planet...

lofter1
August 7th, 2011, 11:59 AM
You got me wondering, and google found these for me ...

flickr has a whole gallery of photos from the Sinchon Museum (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka/sets/72157622514076596/):

Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities (Massacre) North Korea

And youtube has a short vid of what's on show ...

North Korean Propaganda.

Warning: The paintings in this video contain very disturbing images (not suitable for children..)

This anti-American propaganda was created by North Korea. I cannot date it, if anyone can, please let me know and I'll update this description. Any information you have on these painings is welcome! The paintings depict U.S. soldiers committing crimes on North Korean civilians. Bear in mind that this is propaganda. The paintings are about the Sinchon Massacre (and possibly the No Gun Ri Massacre). Several of these paintings (and more!) are featured in the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities in North Korea.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdOk6cJ0F80

flickr also has a gallery from another museum in Pyongyang (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka/sets/72157608353396010/with/2971747164/):

Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Pyongyang DPRK

WizardOfOss
August 7th, 2011, 05:44 PM
Disturbing, that was the word I was looking for...

The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (also see day 9 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23820&p=356257&viewfull=1#post356257) of my trip) also is highly historically incorrect, but that's just their version of history. It's not the first war museum I visited that shows a very one-sided view on history, and probably won't be the last. The sole purpose of the Sinchon Museum however is to build up the hatred against the USA, and the pictures and stories used for this are indeed rather disturbing. I didn't make any pictures inside the museum, though it was allowed, it just didn't seem appropriate. Afterwards we could write down a message, something I also skipped, I really had trouble not to get very cynical. Can you imagine how the American member of our group must have felt, after being shown all this. Of course, horrible things did happen during the war, and part of the story is probably true. But it's the way this is build up to the extreme that makes your blood boil.

WizardOfOss
August 8th, 2011, 06:15 PM
Day 14, Friday April 16th 2010: Nampo & Pyongyang

After just a few hours of sleep and way too much alcohol the night before, the day starts with a terrible hangover. There's a very effective cure however, 15 minutes in a hot spring bath and it's gone. At the breakfast it's obvious not everyone tried this. Before we leave I still have to pay the bill, a hefty € 1.90...

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We first visit the West Sea Barrage, an 8km long dam separating the Taedong River from the Yellow Sea. Built in the eighties by the army, of course with on-the-spot guidance of Kim Jong-Il. As a result, the first thing you see upon entering the visitor center is a huge picture of the Dear Leader, which got most of us into trouble not to start laughing. Next is a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHu5FEeIqfM) about the construction of the dam, praising “only the Koreans could have built a structure like this”. It almost makes me forget there's a similar but 4 times longer Afsluitdijk here in the Netherlands, built half a century earlier...

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Next we head back to Pyongyang, to the Dragon Hill Park just outside of the city. Again old ladies dancing (of course they make us participate), groups singing songs (including the CNC-song, which really is about milling machines...) and having a BBQ in the park. This time however we also have a BBQ, although this isn't half as great as what the locals are eating. But although we have great fun with them, somehow we have a feeling something is wrong. It feels like everything around us is staged, like those people are just sent here because of us. I can't say why and we will never know the truth, but somehow it just doesn't feel right.

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On to the Mangyongdae Funfair, a rather decrepit amusement park. Main attraction is of course the big roller coaster, luckily we can skip the huge line, and to our surprise no one seems to mind, everyone keeps smiling (and some clever guys manage to join our group...). Maybe this has something to do with the fact we pay €4 for the ride, while they are paying just 1 won. According to the official exchange rate we pay 560 times as much, against the more realistic black market rate it's more like a whopping 10,000 times. There should also be a shooting range where you could shoot air guns at American soldiers, but unfortunately our guide leads us to another shooting range where you can fire at wild animals. Not real animals of course, even the DPRK isn't that bizarre...

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Back to the city center, to the Moranbong Theater for an impressive concert. The music is a mixture of the more usual classical pieces, some typical communist works, and as the grand finale again the CNC-song. Unfortunately taking pictures inside wasn't allowed.

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Next is one of the true gems of the city, the Pyongyang Metro. At 110 meters below street level one of the deepest in the world, as it should also serve as a bomb shelter. Like in many other communist cities the stations are regarded as palaces for the people, and as a result are marvelously decorated. The trains however are old Berlin train sets, rather sober, apart from some remaining German graffiti and of course portraits of the leaders. We start at Puhung (“Rehabilitation”) Station, from where we make a short ride in a apart from us empty train to Yonggwang (“Glory”) Station. Next we take another train, together with the locals this time, to Kaesong (“Triumph”) Station, where we take the ridiculously long escalator back to street level.

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Outside we're just near the Arch of Triumph, built to commemorate the end of the Japanese occupation. Inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but of course slightly higher.

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Then a surprise: because of the fireworks earlier this week tourists wouldn't be allowed near the Tower of Juche Idea, but as long as we keep quiet to the other groups, they can make an exception for us. Unfortunately we still aren't allowed to go to the observation platform of this 170 meters tall monument (of course it's a few inches taller than the Washington Monument).

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/DSC_1334.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/DSC_1334.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/DSC_1339.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/DSC_1339.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/DSC_1342.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/DSC_1342.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/DSC_1358.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/DSC_1358.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/P1030655.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/P1030655.jpg)

Next is the Golden Lanes Bowling, the largest bowling alley of the city. It was also visited by Kim Il-Sung, the exact route he walked is clearly marked. But strange: supposedly he also tried his luck (the ball he used is now in a glass cage), but according to the markings, he hasn't been close to the lanes.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/DSC_1363.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/DSC_1363.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/P1030663.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/P1030663.jpg)

For diner we go the one of the best restaurants of the city, the Pyongyang Number One Duck Restaurant. A typical Korean BBQ with delicious duck, and without a doubt the best meal we had during the week.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/th120/P1030667.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d14-1604/1280/P1030667.jpg)

Once back at the hotel I spent my time at buying some last-minute souvenirs, including some DPRK money. I also send some postcards, which is not as straightforward as you might think. We got extremely large stamps with a picture of Kim Jong-Il meeting the South-Korean president. Putting the stamps sideways is regarded disrespectful, the post office simply won't accept the cards...

Also some bad news however, when we get the news of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which disrupted most of the air traffic in Europe. Luckily we can watch BBC World at the hotel room, but with no internet access or other sources of information, it remains to be seen what consequences this would have for us.

WizardOfOss
August 9th, 2011, 07:06 PM
Day 15, Saturday April 17th 2010: Leaving North Korea by train

Unfortunately, our stay in the DPRK has to come to an end. After breakfast we go to the Pyongyang Railway Station, where we have to say goodbye to our guides. We also get our cell phones, nicely wrapped with lots of tape, not to be unwrapped before the border.

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Our part of the trains consists of two Chinese and a couple of Russian carriages coupled to a local train, the Korean part of the train is inaccessible to us. One of Russian carriages is a dining car, but all they sell is dried fish, vodka and Heineken(!), luckily during the ride we can get a pretty good meal from a cart. Quite annoying however is the guide from another group, long before we reach the border he's completely wasted, wandering around with a bottle of vodka.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030683.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030683.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030686.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030686.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030690.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030690.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030694.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030694.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030700.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030700.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030712.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030712.jpg)

After a long and slow ride we stop at Sinuiju, the last station on the Korean side of the border. A couple of customs officers board the train, no X-ray here, so they have to search everything by hand, and also check our camera's for possibly offensive pictures. Luckily we get a quite easy going guy, he doesn't search our bags that thorough, and none of the maybe 50 pictures he watched on my camera have to be removed. He also thought the picture of the wrapped up cell phones was very funny, while one of his more grumpy colleagues in the other carriage had all similar pictures deleted. We also have a good laugh when he congratulates me with my birthday a day early, something he blames on his watch which is showing the wrong date: “stupid Chinese rubbish”...

Next we cross the Yalu river to Dandong. A bigger contrast is hard to imagine: from the extreme poverty of North Korea to China at its most decadent. Shiny modern high-rise buildings, neon lighting, huge billboards everywhere, and more cars than we have seen all week. Customs at the Chinese side of the river is mostly a matter of waiting, they hardly look at our passports and visa, let alone our luggage. After all, we just passed Korean customs, so what possibly could they find?

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030726.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030726.jpg)

We continue our way to Beijing as part of a Chinese overnight train, which also means a decent dining car. The beer they serve also is of the kind you won't find at the other side of the border...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030719.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030719.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/th120/P1030727.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d15-1704/1280/P1030727.jpg)

WizardOfOss
August 15th, 2011, 06:57 PM
Day 16, Sunday April 18th 2010: arrival in Beijing, flight back home...or not.

Early in the morning we arrive at Beijing Railway Station. Although the experience isn't new to me, the chaos at the station feels like a culture shock.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030734.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030734.jpg)

After saying goodbye to the other people on our group we take a cab to our hotel. We're supposed to fly back home just after midnight, but we nevertheless booked a cheap hotel to store our luggage and to freshen up after the long train ride. Of course we also have a look for the latest news about the volcanic eruption in Iceland, there's some hope the flights will be resumed.

So what better to do than play tourist? Near our hotel are the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, even with the smog the view is pretty nice.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030740.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030740.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/youtube_UMNt2jIHBp4.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMNt2jIHBp4) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030754.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030754.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030756.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030756.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030762.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030762.jpg)

Next we take the subway to Wangfujing, the main shopping street of Beijing.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030770.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030770.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030776.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030776.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/th120/P1030778.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d16-1804/1280/P1030778.jpg)

Back at the hotel there's some bad news: all flights to Europe are canceled. We still go to the airport for information about how to get home. The first available flight Air China can offer us to Frankfurt right now is at the May 6th, a delay of 2½ weeks. After some discussion we opt for a flight to Munich a few days earlier.

Back at our hotel I'll try to find some alternatives. Flights to southern Europe, northern Africa, Turkey, basically every place from where we could get back home by train or ferry. No luck however, only very few tickets are still available at ridiculous cost. Think about €7,800 to Istanbul, and no, that isn't Business Class. We also have a look at the Trans-Siberian Railway, but considering we would have to arrange Mongolian and Russian visa first and then will be in a train for over a week, that's not really an alternative either. Seems like we'll be stuck in China for some time...

WizardOfOss
October 11th, 2011, 07:14 PM
Day 17, Monday April 19th 2010: Beijing

After a very, very slow start we visited the Forbidden City. I've been there before in 2006, but at the time the most important building, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, was covered in scaffolding. By now most of the palace has been restored to its original glory. Unfortunately, because of our slow start we simply don't have enough time to make it all the way through the palace.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1369.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1369.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1371.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1371.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1381.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1381.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1389.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1389.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1392.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1392.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1424.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1424.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1456.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1456.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1481.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1481.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1496.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1496.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1499.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1499.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1509.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1509.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1539.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1539.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/th120/DSC_1543.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d17-1904/1280/DSC_1543.jpg)

WizardOfOss
October 11th, 2011, 07:15 PM
Day 18, Tuesday April 20th 2010: Beijing

An early start at the Temple of Heaven. If you want to see the locals do their morning rituals in the park surrounding the stunning temple buildings, be there at 7...

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1550.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1550.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1558.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1558.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1561.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1561.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1572.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1572.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/Youtube_cLSB7G6AkM4.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLSB7G6AkM4.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1577.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1577.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1591.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1591.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/Youtube_5xRmHJ8uJDY.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xRmHJ8uJDY.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/Youtube_JzfmKiPIZ0M.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzfmKiPIZ0M.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1597.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1597.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/Youtube_VUiRdyq1qrY.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUiRdyq1qrY.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1605.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1605.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1614.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1614.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1623.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1623.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1627.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1627.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1668.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1668.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/Youtube_9ZKT23GSIVg.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZKT23GSIVg.jpg)

After visiting the nearby Hongqiao Pearl Market (where about everything you could think of is being sold, not just pearls) we go once more to the airport, trying to get an earlier flight home. Again, no luck.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1682.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1682.jpg)

Back in the city, we spent the evening at Sanlitun, a modern shopping and nightlife district.

http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1685.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1685.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1692.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1692.jpg) http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/th120/DSC_1700.jpg (http://www.sanderw.nl/foto/reizen/2010/02-koreachina/d18-2004/1280/DSC_1700.jpg)

Merry
March 24th, 2012, 03:20 AM
Sublimely gorgeous.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/image/ssd_01.jpg On a lakefront site, the White Block Gallery in Heyri, South Korea [Courtesy SsD]

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/ssd_06.jpg
Interior

http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5960