Even though today is a Sunday, we did not lie in bed but rather we got up early today and had breakfast in the hotel as today we are going to the world's most special land, DMZ. Eunice had booked a tour for us to see the South Korea side of DMZ.
We took the train to the Seoul Station, it is the major train station in Seoul including the KIX bullet trains to Busan and also the Arex trains to Gimpo Airport and Incheon International Airport. It's a huge, clean complex and you can shop while waiting for your train departure as there is the Galleria Department Store featuring all Korean products and also the Lotte Mart Discount Store.
the Love staircase in Seoul Station.. you can write a letter and there is a post-box on the left.
There is no reason to go hungry on your train journey, there are plenty of food stalls selling bentos, dumplings, gimbap, bread etc.
Finally, the train is here!...
Boarding the DMZ train...
Wow... cheerful interior to make the trip fun.
As it was a Sunday, we have families with young children aboard as this tour seem to be a easy fun day.
The train journey took about an hour and soon most of us were napping.
Crossing the bridge
heavily barb fencing and desolate landscape tell us that we are approaching the DMZ.
The Demilitarized Zone was created at the end of the Korean War (1950 -1953). This refers to the strip of land running across the Korean peninsular and roughly dividing North and South Korea in half at the 38th parallel north. This is the buffer zone when both the North and South Korean troops each retreated 2200 years from the front line, but todate there are still troops stationed along both side of the line, hence the heavy security checks.
Dorasan Station... "Not the last station from the South, But the first station towards the North"
Though the station complex is completed, the railroad to the North is not in use.
Dorasan Station, as this is the last train station, everyone disembark and go through the security checks. We have been given a tag onboard the train when we departed from Seoul Station and here we are again given another tag to wear after the security check.
Brightly painted trains - a hope for unification?
the Dorasan Observatory.. "End of Separation-Beginning of Unification"
On the left side behind this building, we scrambled towards the telescopes to get a view of North Korea and managed to find the world's 3rd tallest flagpole in the North Korea. The "flagpole war" had South Korea building their flagpole at 323 feet tall whilst the North Korea then proceeded to build theirs at 525 feet tall.
Taking photographs are strictly not allowed.
Getting ready to enter the 3rd Tunnel.
The 1st infiltration tunnel by the North Korea was discovered in 20/11/1974 and then again 2nd tunnel in March 1975 and the 3rd tunnel in October 1978. The 3rd tunnel is only 27 miles from the capital Seoul. The North Korea claimed that this tunnel was for coal mining purposes and infact the tunnel were painted black to camouflage it... what a joke!
The tunnel is about 240 feet below ground and estimated that 30,000 soldiers could pass through it per hour. We were taken down the shaft by a short monorail and its cold, wet and dark as we descended. Nothing much to see but just a walk along the tunnel and back.
The tour package also offer an option to have lunch (own expenses). As we entered the large dining hall, there were long rows of tables with the banchan (side dishes) already laid out. I really loved the different type of banchan that were served at different restaurants! And I noticed that while we Malaysian tends to finish off all the banchan, most of the locals does not, don't know why and I felt it is rather wasteful.
kimchi of course, steamed eggs, fried fish, seaweeds and spicy bean sprouts..
the main course is pork/miso soup and the hot soup and rice is tasty and so satisfying...
After lunch, we were driven to this park....
Established in 1972.. a huge park with plenty of artworks
This is not a bird house.
Korea has 11 World Heritage Sites and visitors are encourage to see them all and they have this stamp programme where you can collect the stamps at designated sites.. something like this,
Marilyn Monroe bringing a bit of cheer to American troops during her 4 days tour before a total audience of over 100,000 troops in February 1954.
Learning about history through these photographs exhibitions.
an ancient swing?
Mural with children's art
Joe, Larry, Moe ......
Tie a green ribbon...
Then its time to depart and the train was waiting to take us away from the harsh realities of war. We slept throughout on the way back to Seoul station.
Hodugwaja aka Korean Walnut cake.
These are freshly bake in the store.. these tiny balls of cake/dough shaped like a walnut and filled with red bean paste and a piece of walnut ..... delicious.
We also bought a box of candied ginseng for my sister.
Finally more shopping in Myeongdong... lots of skincare, cosmetics, clothings etc.
our dinner- dakjjim ..
Dak is chicken and jjim is to braise/steam.
Again a restaurant where the locals patronise..
We were served with bowls of cold pickled radish soup/drink ..and were wondering why the pair of scissors was given.
This is a whole chicken.... braised with lots of dried red chillies, potatoes, vegetables and the starch noddles.
Now you know what the scissors is for ....
the best is at the end.... a bowl of rice with its crispy burnt bottom and kimchi is added to soak up the sauces .. yummy ...
After dinner, we parted ways as Eunice and Jeremy made their way back home and whilst we decided to take a trip through their "pasar malam" for more shopping. We almost lost the way back to the hotel .... the vendors did not speak English at all, so were the few people we asked for the whereabouts of the metro station!
All ended well anyway... and we have these big gorgeous strawberries for supper back in the hotel!