Sunday, June 10, 2012
Seoul - Day 6
I booked a half-day tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) yesterday. This area is along the
North/South Korea border and is 4km wide, 2km into
the North and 2km into the South. We specifically visited the 3rd Tunnel area
because it's closest to (only took an hour to drive there).
There are four tunnels along the North/South border, all of which were dug by Seoul over the years in order to send an
army through to invade North Korea . What I remember most is that the
Fourth Tunnel was found in 1990 which, for some reason, doesn't seem that long
ago to me. You had to walk down a 300m walkway to get to the tunnel itself and
then walk to the end of the tunnel to see what's on the North Korean side. O_O
Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed for this portion of the tour.
There were several spots in the tunnel where you had to bend down to avoid
hitting your head on the rocky ceiling - good thing we wore hard hats! You
could ride a tram back up the walkway, but there were several mainland Chinese tourists
waiting for it (about the parents' age), so I ended up walking up that same
walkway to the top. (O_o) All the walking around I've done so far came in
handy! South Korea
Next, we went to a lookout point, Dora Observatory, where you could see both the North Korean and South Korean flags. Strange! There was a designated photo line here, so I couldn't get actual pictures of the flags. Do: Sadness. But I did get to see them with a pair of binoculars.
After that, we went to Dorasan Station, the northernmost station in
. According to the tour guide, there
was a point in time where South Korea encouraged North Korea to build tracks into South Korea . But... once some tracks were laid
down, the North Koreans told them they couldn't ride a train into that country.
:o/ More details here. It's a
beautiful station. North Korea
At the end of the tour, we were taken to a government-sponsored ginseng center. *rolls eyes* This was obviously a ploy to sell ginseng to hapless tourists, so I didn't buy any. Apparently, Korean ginseng has many valuable properties (especially those that are six years or older). My sister said Chinese tourists like to buy it. The website I provided says that buying from that particular place is a scam. This does not surprise me. A friend of mine is also in
and had mentioned this center a few
days ago; I'm glad she did! Unfortunately, her mom bought into the hype and now
they've got a year's supply of ginseng to contend with. O.o Korea
The tour ended at the City Hall metro station where we ate at a nearby restaurant. Lunch was optional; since my sister needed time to study, I opted to get lunch with the tour group. Ehhh... the lunch was not that great. I ordered bulgogi but they obviously used cheap cuts of meat. There were several different nationalities on the tour though, which was neat. A few guys were in
for a teaching conference (one from
Seoul , one from Hungary , one from Czech Republic ). One guy was on a business trip
from Germany ; another guy on a business trip was from Pennsylvania . This guy had actually been to New Zealand before! Haha, when I travel, I
usually hear foreigners visiting Atlanta or New York , so it was weird to hear that
someone had been to California . A few people from Atlanta ... and I can't remember the rest. I
got pretty lucky with the tour group. I was late getting picked up from my
hostel, so I had to sit in a small shuttle bus that accompanied the larger tour
bus. The larger bus had 41 people while the small bus had 15. I liked the small
bus better, of course. Singapore
I went to
to meet up with my sister. We stayed in
her dorm for a bit, trying to figure out our next move. We decided to go
shopping for a few things people wanted me to bring back. We went to two grocery stores
on different sides of town only to find that they were both closed. :o\ What a waste of time! (We learned after the fact that stores are now closed on Sundays. Mind you, they used to stay open. I'm not sure what prompted the change but it was frustrating.) We gave up and had dinner near her university - Japanese
curry. Yummy. Ewha University
Entrance to walkway to Third Tunnel - No photography allowed.
They look like fingers to me.