KOR’07: Day 6

Travelogue October 21st, 2007

Wow! It’s day 6 already! Time really flies, doesn’t it? Especially when you are overseas. Got up really early today because for once, I decided to go to the DMZ – the demilitarized zone between the north and south Koreas. Paid a hefty 46,000 won for it and mistakenly not opt for the other 52,000 won option which includes lunch. =( blur me.

6:00am Got up early in the morning! 6am! Can you believe it? Who gets up at 6am on a holiday? =P Then again, this isn’t really a holiday. Oh well. I soaked myself in the bath tub for a good 30 mins before realizing that I was going to be late! Sigh. No more morning tours for me next time.

7:40am Got to Lotte Hotel on time where PTC – the travel agency was located. Quickly paid up everything and went to the lobby to join the rest of the tour group which was organized by someone else. Unfortunately for me, I ended up joining a Japanese tour group and I didn’t understand Japanese! Thank goodness there is a personal guide of sorts and she translated everything in English.

8:00am Feel asleep on bus. Don’t ask me what happened. Haha….

8:30am Shucks! I got mixed up on all the places that I visited. I think there is this bell for you to ring for your wish of reunification, that’s also the same place where you can see the unification bridge that is build by Hyundai to enable South Korea to send rice and stuffs to the north. That’s where you can also buy nice satay sticks for breakfast! Heh heh…

Following which, we went to this place where you can see the entire DMZ stretch between the north and the south. In fact you can also see the flags on each side of the great divide. No cameras are allowed beyond a certain point at the viewing area, so do bring along a nice small camouflagable camera if you intend to flout the rule. The alternatie is to bring along a DSLR with a good long distance lens. =P The US soldiers are also nice to take pictures with and they are rather friendly. Just be nice to them. =)

After the viewing area was the Gyeongju station between Seoul and PyeongYang. You may get there via KTX and also get a commemorative stamp on your passport stating that you are 200+ km from PyeongYang and 50+ km from Seoul (yes, DMZ is outside, north of Seoul). There are some nice gifts that you can get from the giftshop inside the station. No bargaining is required because the prices are rather fixed. =P

Following that, we went to look at the 3rd tunnel that was found to be dug by the North Koreans in an attempt to invade the South. It was found out after some North Korean defected to the South and when the South asked the North about the tunnel, the latter claimed that they were digging for coal. Ya, right. In a granite area. In fact, the North Koreans smeared coal powder on the granites to pass them off as coal mines. How silly can they get. Of course the South Koreans knew about the planned invasion – you just had someone who defected there!

Anyway no cameras are allowed into the tunnel and we had to deposit our bags into a locker. We also had to wear a safety helmet (like that of a construction helmet) before going into the tunnel.¬†There is a roller coaster kinda transporter that brought up some 200m below ground level to where the North Koreans stopped digging. At first, we were all wondering what was the use of the helmet, until someone’s helmet got hit by some low-lying rocks sticking out from the top of the tunnel! Haha… and oh, I had my handy Nokia phone with me…. ahem.. for emergency calls. Afterall, no photo taking was allowed inside.

After reaching the bottom of the… “rollercoaster ride”, we had to continue the journey into the tunnel dug by the North Koreans by foot. The place is artificially cooled by airconditioners and it seemed like a really wet place. The tunnel was abruptedly blocked because the South Koreans didn’t want the North Koreans to attempt entering/invading the South again. I heard that there were also landmines in the rest of the tunnels! Oh gosh!

Yup, that was the last leg of the DMZ tour. The trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA) was not available and so I won’t be able to “cross the boundary”. Sigh.

12:00pm Returned to City Hall Station (no, not the Singapore one) where I proceeded to… guess where? MyeongDong!!! Yes, counted the wrong number things that I had to buy, so I had to go back there for the…. 5th time? … to get my stuffs. Yes! It’s finally done and I’m free! Woohoo! But following this was a mad rush! And oh, I got my Giordano sweater as well! It’s really nice and I was sure that they don’t have it in Singapore. =P In fact, they have an Autumn collection that Singapore will never have. =(

3:00pm Time for my last series of 2 appointments! Finally settled that as well… while waiting at Starbucks during the interval. It’s finally over and done! Woot! Haha…

5:00pm Went down to Express Bus Terminal to get an extra luggage! Yes, that’s how much things I have bought! Pants (lots of it), some clothes (tops), sweaters, teddy bears, cosmetics, souveniors and lots of information booklets. Heh heh… Started to pack my things finally. Whew! There are really a lot of things! Think i am going to have overweight baggage tomorrow! Shucks! And it’s 12,000 won / kg. Let’s just hope that the anal security guard won’t be at the airport tomorrow.

2:00am Okie. Finally getting some sleep…. goodnight people! =)



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