The Korean Adventure Day 2: DMZ

When traveling, Google is your best friend.  Search multiple travel websites and compare prices.  There are tours that are expensive in one agency but cheap in another. Pick out tours that make sense for you and your companions. If you have kids, safety is the most important element in your choice.

On our second day, we chose to visit the infamous Korean DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). This is the hostile borderline between North and South Korea.  I find it interesting but sad at the same time.

We woke up early. Even with little sleep, we were all excited to check-out what the day had to offer. Namsan Guest house offers free unlimited noodles (instant), bread, jams and coffee the whole day.  This saved as a ton of food money, not bad!  We were fetched by a black van at 7 am via  Cosmojin Tours. The van brought us to join a bigger group, we signed up for the DMZ morning half morning experience.

It took us 30-40 minutes to get to our first spot, Imjingak Park. The guide informed us that this park is commemorative of the Korean war. Statues and small monuments reminds every visitor of the sacrifice that all Koreans had to bear, that one day there will then be again peace and unification.

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Can’t believe we were roaming around in a 2 deg weather!   There were patches of snow and ice on the ground and we were very careful not to slip. Hawakan ang mga bata!

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There are several local shops that sells food and other retail products. OJ bought some fish and chicken skewers. Its yumeeh!

IMG_3100We also bought new rainbox gloves and poki sticks for the little Ms. Piggy.

IMG_3101We only had 20 minutes to explore and if we were late, a mandatory dance infront of the whole group will be the punishment. Guess what, Kuya Oscar is the first man to Gangnam.

From Imjingak Park we headed to the actual DMZ area.  All visitors are not allowed to take pictures of the landscape and people beyond this point. Managed to take this before entering the zone. A security check is needed, a young military officer came up to the bus and inspected all our passports.  In Korea, all young men are required 2 years of military service even the celebrities.  The checker might be a KPop Idol and we wouldn’t know it.

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Our bus parked at the DMZ theater and exhibition hall. The parking area and the inside of the museum are the only areas people were allowed to take photos.

IMG_3116The DMZ is 250 km long, cutting the whole peninsula in half and 4 km wide.  Heavily guarded by the north and south, it is a place where nature is left to thrive on its own.  It must be the best wild life protected zone in the world.

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“Soldiers in action”

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This is the statue of the third tunnel.  We went descended 73 meters below the ground to see a tunnel that was dug by North Korea to use against the South. Sorry no pictures of the tunnel, I don’t want to go to jail. It was great exercise! Going back up was the challenge.

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DMZ Jump Shot, don’t huli me please!

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Our pack moved to Dora Observatory.  You can rent a telescope for 500 won to view the expanse of North Korea in all its glory. I was ale to see the the North Korean flag and the entrance gate to Kaesong Industrial Region.

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Another interesting stop is the Dorasan Train Station. This place is so much better than the Philippine’s airport.  It is one of the best well maintained transport facilities I have ever seen.

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I love the design and feel of it. This is the waiting area, high ceiling and well lighted.

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Dorasan Station is the only functional train station that connects South Korea to North Korea.  For now, it functions to service employees that works in the DMZ area connected via Seoul station.  Trips are limited, I am not sure if you can commute using this to visit DMZ.

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There were other spots that the guide pointed to us that as part of North Korea.  The guide said: “how would you differentiate between the land of North and South Korea? it is with their mountains. South Korea with its technology use different ways to power the nation.  North Korea uses trees, almost all mountains trees are chopped for firewood” Sad.

It was almost midday and the tour guide took us to visit an organic farm in the DMZ and an Amethyst shop in Seoul.  I wasn’t able to go down and see the fancy jewels, my little Boomie was knocked-out.  It was sunny and wonderful, but three layers of clothing is necessary.

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All in all, tour package cost us 38,000 won or 1,600 php per head.

Thank you Cosmojin for a wonderful and organized trip!

Up next second part of the day Insa-dong + Namsan Tower.

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