VI. Evening in Pyongyang, and Pyongyang to DC
As I mentioned in the last post, after a long day of touring around Pyongyang we were taken to the Number 1 Duck Restaurant, which was promised to be a big treat. Contemplating dinner…and North Korean beer:
Final evening chat with the variety of interesting characters on the trip:
After dinner, it was back to the glamourous Koryo Hotel to crash. It was honestly reasonably comfortable, completely clean, even though the mattresses seriously felt like they were filled with straw:
The uninspired hallways…if you would knock on the walls there were clearly lots of hollow spots in them…we decided there must be secret compartments and one-way mirrors…
Final breakfast at the Koryo Hotel. What the food made up for in quality and quantity, they certainly tried their hardest with presentation…and bowtied waiters:
Koryo Hotel lobby…note all the marble. Like old Soviet hotels, it was everywhere. I can’t remember if the pink flowers are Kimilsungia or Kimjongilia:
Goodbye Koryo Hotel…waiting for the bus to the airport:
Busy city streets of downtown Pyongyang at 7am:
One last shot of the two towers of the Koryo Hotel:
Shot with our “tour guide” by the bus before heading to the airport:
Unauthorized secret photography on the way to the airport. Lots more people “risking” pictures at this point because, hey, what would they do, deport us?
Goodbye from the Eternal Leader:
Very busy day at Pyongyang International, with four flights arriving, including the two charters to take the visiting South Koreans home;
Waiting area, including a V.I.P. Lounge…unfortunately, they don’t accept Priority Pass…yes I asked…
Waiting hall…all flights wait in the same room:
Inspirational reading on the walls while you wait for your flight. I wonder if Kim Il Sung would approve of the Kindle:
Sympathy might not be the word they wanted:
Our plane being prepared on the tarmac:
Walking down the stairs to the bus to take us to our plane:
So long Pyongyang!
Boarding…was fun to get a different plane than the first flight!
Air Koryo flight 221
Pyongyang, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (FNJ) to Beijing, China (PEK)
Depart 9:30, Arrive 10:00, Flight Time: 90 minutes
Tupolev TU-154B, Registration P-561, Manufactured 1983, Seat 26D
The Air Koryo crew continued to photobomb my pics!
No doors on the overhead bins this time, just put your bags up and pray!
On the takeoff roll. You can see all the bags in the overhead, and the flight attendant standing in the aisle and bracing herself by holding onto two seats!
The Air Koryo burger, and some kind of juice I think. The burger was actually surprisingly edible, but I have absolutely no idea what it contained!
Final shot of our plane from the gate in Beijing:
We had a few hours to wait for our connecting flight to Newark, and got some Starbucks in the airport and then just hung out in the lounge. Back then you needed a visa to even transit China, so might as well leave the sterile area of the airport and get some Starbucks while waiting!
Continental Airlines flight 88
Beijing, China (PEK) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
Depart 15:45, Arrive 17:25 Flight Time: 13:45
Boeing 777-200, Registration: ???, Manufactured ????, Seat 9A
Was absolutely and completely exhausted by this flight, and ended up sleeping a lot of it. So tired I didn’t even think to take any pics of the meal or anything unfortunately.
Continental Airlines flight 1153
Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Washington, DC, National (DCA)
Depart 19:00, Arrive 20:15 Flight Time: 1:15
Boeing 737-500, Registration: ???, Manufactured ????, Seat 5E
Speaking of exhaustion, this is when it hit. Flew economy on the domestic segments because buying first on those would have been hundreds extra, and it wasn’t worth it for such short flights when you could get the bulkhead. Remember the days when Continental flew 737s 10 times a day from DC to Newark?
All in all, it was an amazing trip, and a fantastic opportunity to be part of the first group of Americans to be allowed into North Korea. We got to see a slightly less-polished propaganda machine that wasn’t quite certain what to do with us. I look forward to going back for a much longer trip so I am not so severely jetlagged for most of it, and we can see more sights. Especially would love to take the aviation tour!
Thanks for sharing. I never tire of reading NK trip reports, so much mystery in that country and no doubt a lot of sadness as well. Best, Alex
Great write up. I’m kinda surprised there was both a Korean Air & Asiana flight that flew into North Korea on the departure board.
This was great. Thanks so much for sharing it. What a fascinating trip to the hermit kingdom.
Just like Alex said, North Korea trip reports are (sadly?) fascinating. I’ve enjoyed following along on your journey so far and I’ll admit I’m totally jealous! Someday I’d like to visit North Korea but it’s just not in the cards at this moment.