Tuesday, 23 August 2011

North Korea and Seoul Tower

Woke up at 6:15 with a taut stretch. I haven't had much sleep since touching down at Incheon Airport. I did the usual mundane morning tasks, travelling can't be all fun all the time, right? I boarded the bus to a place called Gangwha Island at 8. Gangwha Island is about 2 miles north west of Seoul in the province of Incheon. Mostly it's rice fields. Rice fields. Rice fields. Did I mention rice fields? After a short drive through these rice fields you enter a military checkpoint. They check the bus, I'm not sure what they're looking for, and you enter the only part of the DMZ open to civilians. From this point, on the other side of Han River you can see the mountains that make up the southern peninsular of North Korea.

The South Korean Peace Observatory is surrounded by outposts and tanks pointing towards North Korea. However, it genuinely is a peaceful place, it's quiet and sort of eerie. You can look through a telescope for 500 won (25p) and you can see North Korean workers doing something, I'm not sure exactly what that something was. Spent about an hour here gazing at the North and hearing some lectures about post unification. There is also a tree in the middle of the observatory made up of notes by Koreans, notes full of wishes for unification. Some families have literally been split in half, some living in the north and some in the south and it's just this really moving place.

Onward, to lunch, which was a traditional meal (seaweed soup, rice and beef, mushrooms, jellied eel and some other delights).

We toured around the island a bit, checking out some ruins and some old ancient Korean palaces and arrived back in Seoul at around 7. Everyone dashed off for dinner but me and my roomate skipped out as we had other plans. We wrestled with the metro (the cleanest and most efficient metro I've ever been on) and made our way to Seoul Tower which rises up a good 290ft (I think) on the top of a mountain in the middle of Seoul. Accessible by cable car and up the fastest elevator in the world use reach the viewing deck. This city goes on way into the horizon. It doesn't fade out like other cities, the skyscrapers, stadiums and neon lights keep going and going. A great end to a great day here in Seoul.

Good night.

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