Sorry about the length between posts.  I didn’t want to spend hours of my last days with Andy blogging, and then I just spent a few days being really lazy.  No worries though there will be a couple posts showing up over this next week.

Andy and I took a trip to the DMZ.  Unfortunately, we didn’t take the trip with the USO.  We had a good experience but if I have time to go again I will definitely go with them. On this trip it was ridiculously hazy out.  We took the bus with our group.  When we arrived at the barricades we handed over our IDs and were registered.  Then a soldier got on the bus just to match IDs and people to make sure everyone had been cleared.

There were lots

It was a really hazy day.  This was taken at our first stop, Imjingak.  It was built to be a place where civilians that had lost their homes in the North could go and console their sorrows.  It is the farthest point people can go without permission.  It was the first stop that was full of good and somber parts as well as touristy ridiculousness, like the amusement park.

This is the Korean memorial for the United States.  Sadly, we didn’t have time to see it any closer.

This is an alter that is used by the displaced, especially during Lunar New Year and Chuesok, Korean Thanksgiving.

Ribbons hang all over the fencing of the bridge that was built to have an exchange of POWs.  They are messages to family members that were separated into the North.

One of the trains that was abandoned on the tracks when they were destroyed and split up during the war.

There are so many systems in place for security, and of course the most popular being barbed wire EVERYWHERE! Seriously, you couldn’t look in any direction without seeing this somewhere in your line of sight.

This is the Peace Bell that was installed in 2000 to hope for a United Korea during the new millenium.

of course there were these little photo points set up throughout everything.  They really wanted to make this into a place that should be enjoyed and almost celebrated instead of seeing it at a border that kept families apart and was created because a nation was being divided. A border that is still heavily guarded and at all times comes with some level of danger.

But back to the happy go lucky ventures of the day.  After this stop we went to this really good place for lunch.  Had some beanpaste soup and tofu something or another.  It was here that Andy and I tried some North Korean beer, and photographed our reactions.  It wasn’t terrible after the first initial sips, but definitely not something I expect to see on the shelves at a grocery store in NC anytime soon.

awesome sculpture near the third tunnel.  It is supposed to show the divide being bridged by the people and stuff, obviously, of course.

A map of the DMZ.  There is actually a village of people that live within its boundaries.  They farm and go to school and everything.  They have a curfew, and can’t roam freely because of undetonated mines.  I wouldn’t say it is my ideal life, but it’s what they have chosen to do.

and back to the cheesy touristy things like taking pictures with these little guys.

Apparently Andy decided to find himself a new girlfriend, but she was already taken.

These little statues were outside of the Third Tunnel. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the area.  It was really hard to navigate this tunnel because it seriously looks like it was built for children.  I hit my head numerous times and was glad for my helmet.  we walked bent over in half most of the time.

This is one of the lookout posts over into North Korea.  It was so hazy and the ‘photo zone’ was so far away that I didn’t really get any pictures…well I got some buuut I took them in a place Iwasn’t supposed to so they deleted them…oops. We also didn’t get to go into the information center because some US high ranking official was there.  I am not sure who, but it was a bummer that we couldn’t see everything, especially since it was hazy. The guards were nice though and answered a bunch of questions some others had.

Last we went to Dorasan Train Station. It is the last train stop in the northern parts of South Korea.  There is a train that runs south from this station every 2 hours through the middle of the day, I think.  There are tracks on both sides but only the one side is ever used.  All around the station is this almost movie set looking set-up.  There are cargo holds and immigration buildings and things that would be necessary during an opening of borders and a slow process reunification time.  It was just so strange to see everything there and waiting but never being used. The tracks were destroyed during the war and the picture above is a wall with names on it of people that donated in the project to rebuild the lines.

This is the front of the station.  It is way nice and clean and modern looking.  It is stationed with guards but they were kind of goofing around and answering questions, and of course posing for pictures.

There was a map showing how the Trans Siberian rail road would look and how if the North were open to the trains that it would take something like 15 days to take a train from Seoul to London.  Personally I would absolutely love to take a trip like that and see the landscapes of Russia.  Maybe one day.

Apparently George Bush did something with the tracks.

We had to pay like $.50 to go out onto the platform.  When we got there there was a train waiting to take people South.

This is the Korean’s main phrase used to describe this station.

Of course since there were no more trains for at least two hours and absolutely none on the other side we got to go down and hang out on the tracks.

and the way to North Korea is blocked and filled with red lights and stop signs.

Overall it was a very interesting experience and I learned a lot, but I also felt like I was in this kind of fun touristy learning spot and not in this kind of scary border that stretched 2km on each side of the border in countries that are still technically at war.  It was informational but hard to take it all as serious as I think we both would have liked to. So it goes. And there you have it, the DMZ trip with Adventure Korea.