IV. Trip to DMZ and Kaesong, return to Pyongyang
Up waaaaaay to early for the long ride down to the DMZ. The Koryo hotel treated us to white toast with what passed for some scary local butter, and some pre-packaged cold cuts which were equally suspicious looking. There was also coffee, but it looked pretty much like a few instant coffee grounds in water, so wasn’t much help. There was a small store in the hotel selling western goods, and it was actually possible to get Coke and Diet Coke for a reasonable price…but there was no telling what currency you might get change in. We were told to bring Euros, but they were also more than happy to accept US notes, Japanese, or Chinese currency.
After that, we loaded into the bus for the long ride down to the DMZ. Tried my best to stay awake for most of it, but the jetlag was seriously hurting today. Not to worry, however, because if I did manage to fall asleep for a bit I’d be woken up by the minder shouting at someone from the back of the bus to put their camera away. There wasn’t too much to see, or surprising, but it was a huge highway down to the border, and you hardly ever saw a single car along it.
View from the bus:
Standing in the middle of the “highway” at a rest stop:
North Korean agriculture from the bus:
We stopped short of the DMZ area, and waited for our guides to sort some things out. There was as small presentation of pictures and articles, including the Dear Leader inspecting the museum and giving his famous “on the spot advice:”
Sign near the entrance, again using the theme of lost relatives soon to be reunited:
Posing, and waiting, outside the museum:
Getting a short lesson on a map about the great North Korean victories in the war:
The Eternal and Dear Leaders were everywhere, looking youthful as ever:
Entrance to the museum on the North Korean side of the DMZ:
Posing with the North Korean military guy who was our guide:
I believe this was commemorating the opening of the museum:
Looking at the huts along the armistice line, including the two blue UN huts. You can see the South Korean museum in the background, and solders standing between the huts marking the border:
Look carefully at the mid-point of the huts, and the border line marked clearly on the ground:
Always expected in order to “do” every country I’d be taking this pic on the other side, saying “look, North Korea in the distance!” Instead it was “look, South Korea in the distance!” The funny part about this was at this point, I hadn’t even been to South Korea yet!
Better view of the border line crossing through the huts from the balcony of the museum:
We were eventually allowed into the huts, but due to “recent sensitivities” were not allowed to cross to the other side of the hut “technically” into South Korea, or even take any pics while in the hut. Bummer. So I couldn’t count South Korea, even technically, yet!
After the tour we piled back into the bus for the short drive out of the DMZ into Kaesong. The DMZ is fascinating because since there have been no people really living there for decades, wildlife has really flourished…except of course the occasional animals that get blown up by the still plentiful landmines!
Traditional lunch in Kaesong:
Rather empty street in Kaesong:
We toured a couple of local folk museums, but unfortunately my pictures were deleted. While trying to sort them on my camera, I ended up losing dozens of pictures from the trip, including many from the Childrens Palace. Extremely unfortunate luck. The drive back to Pyongyang was long, and I think I ended up sleeping for a good majority of it. Still another full evening to come in Pyongyang, and one more full day of touring the city!
It’s funny that so many people end up visiting these same buildings from both side.
We did it recently from the south side. Link (http://meriharakka.net/2014/11/01/pohjois-korean-rajalla/) to my story, in Finnish, but with enough pictures to get a good understanding of it.