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  • Day7

    DMZ Tour

    June 7, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    Um 6:15 Uhr hat heute unser Wecker geklingelt, denn um 7:30 Uhr war Treffpunkt für eine DMZ Tour. DMZ = Demilitarisierte Zone (zwischen Nord und Südkorea ein 4 Kilometer breiter Streifen)
    Während der Halbtägigen Tour besuchten wir den 3. Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatorium & den letzten offenen Bahnhof in Südkorea.
    Unser Tour Guide hat uns einige sehr interessante Fakten über den Korea Krieg und den beiden Ländern erklärt (alles natürlich auf Englisch).

    Am Nachmittag waren wir wieder zurück in Seoul. Dort schlenderten wir (mal wieder) über verschiedene Märkte. Morgen früh wird hier in unserem Hotel ausgecheckt und wir bekommen unseren Mietwagen.
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  • Day32

    Namhansamseong Fortress

    September 28, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Another day, another fortress. Today's site was an "emergency palace", constructed during the 17th century. A fortress just outside of Seoul where the royal family and the government could retreat during times of war and unrest so that things could continue in safety.

    Much easier to access this time, as it was basically on the subway! 40 minutes on the subway to the edge of town, then a short 15 minute bus ride up into the hills nearby to the actual fortress. Quite busy today as it's a Saturday, and the area is super popular with the locals for hiking. Koreans really like hiking, as it turns out, even the old folks, and they all get super kitted out in their North Face and Kathmandu gear.

    This site doesn't have a great rep among our community as it's basically just a not-that-interesting fortress and isn't that old, so it doesn't have a lot going for it. We'd also seen ancient walls on the previous two day and weren't feeling super enthused. But we hopped off the bus in the tourist town and started wandering.

    The walls themselves run for about 12 kilometres and we picked the south gate to start with, figuring we'd walk a segment to the west gate, then head back to the centre. We essentially stuck to that plan and it was quite nice, though again the warm humid weather made the going tough.

    The wall was in great condition though as I mentioned it's not that old, and it's hard to know what sort of upkeep has been done to it. It was reasonably interesting, but certainly not a highlight I guess! The gates were cool though.

    Back to the centre of the fortress where we also had a look at the emergency palace. This was the centre of government when the king retreated here. Built in the 1660s, it was used within 10 years during a Japanese invasion (the Koreans lost). It suffered heavy damage in wars over the years and these days what you can see is mostly reconstructed from photos and archaeology. Not my favourite type of site!

    Took the bus down from the mountains to the city, grabbed a late lunch at Paris Baguette (again), then caught the subway back home. Stayed in for the rest of the day working on various things!
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  • Day30

    Royal Tombs & City Walls

    September 26, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Day trip out of the city to visit a World Heritage site, a pattern that's going to be repeated a bunch of times for the next few days! Up early and headed to the metro, following our directions east to the town of Guri. One really annoying thing about the metro here is that some of the lines split, but it never mentions which direction the train is going. Sort of like in Sydney how the south coast line trains are all on the blue line, but half of them go to Cronulla and the others go to Wollongong.

    Seoul has the same thing except yeah, it doesn't tell you which are Cronulla and which are Wollongong trains. You can probably see where this is going. Our app said to change to line 2 at a particular station, so we did and just hopped on the next train. It was a bit different since it wasn't a metro train, it was all seated, but it headed the right direction before veering away north and picking up speed. Eventually with the help of a local guy we figured out it was a train, not the subway, and that we'd need to get off at the next stop.

    At least it wasn't too far away, so we hopped off, switched platforms and waited 15 minutes for the next train back. That was all fine, if a bit annoying, until the ticket inspector turned up. As it turns out, this was an express train and our metro tap-on tickets didn't cover it. The inspector was an old guy and didn't know much English beyond "ticket" and "penalty". I google translated a few messages explaining the situation and that we didn't even know where to buy tickets (I think he was trying to sell them but they were quite expensive), and eventually he threatened to call the police on his radio.

    Which he did, and then escorted us to the rear carriage and his compartment. I had a feeling something was up, since he hadn't pushed the talk button on his radio when calling, and nobody had answered him. When we got to his compartment his demeanour changed massively, the train arrived at the next station, and we got off with no issues. It was a confusing situation but I think he just wanted to save face in front of the locals who could see him confronting us about not having tickets.

    Not wanting to take another chance, we left the station and took a bus the rest of the way. We'd wasted an hour, but at least nothing worse had happened! As it was, the site wasn't super interesting. It was a collection of royal tombs from the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 14th-20th centuries. The tombs are scattered all around the peninsula but this is the largest collection in one area.

    It's a nice environment with a forest and a series of buildings in front of a large mound where the king and/or queen is actually buried. Interestingly, none of the tombs have ever been opened, so aside from the buildings there wasn't much to actually see. We wandered around, but were done within about 90 minutes.

    Caught a bus back to the station where we carefully caught the right train back into the city. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around sections of the city walls. They were progressively built over hundreds of years, but are still running through large sections of the city. It was interesting to see via the stonework which parts had been built when! They're on the tentative world heritage list, and since SK is pretty organised it will probably get added in the next couple of years.
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  • Day34

    Hwaseong Fortress

    September 30, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Another day, another fortress! Thankfully this is the last fortress we'll see in Korea. Hooray.

    Subway ride to the south-east of Seoul this time, and then another bus out to the mini-city of Suwon where our site is located. Again, this is a semi-modern emergency palace and fortress, constructed to save the government if and or when things got bad. This is actually in pretty great condition and is largely original, so we were interested to see it.

    First stop was an enormous old gatehouse that these days literally sits in the middle of a roundabout in the middle of town. It looked quite odd, but also very impressive. Took a couple of photos then headed off on our customary circuit of the walls. These were only about 6km, so much more hikeable in a few hours! The first part was quite tough, heading up a tall hill to see watch towers and a command post, but we were rewarded with good views. We could even see the wall miles off on the other side of the fortress.

    Strolled downhill, grabbed a snack and kept walking. Every couple of hundred metres there was a new thing to see, whether it was a bastion, a redoubt, a gatehouse, a secret entrance, a watergate, or even an observation post. It was all quite interesting, in good condition, and as I mentioned largely original which helped things quite a bit.

    The walk took quite a while though we both really enjoyed it, one of the better sites we've seen so far in Korea I think. Couldn't see many options for lunch so we ended up with microwaved meals from 7-11, though they're better than you might think! It's quite common to eat those here. I had a burger (surprisingly palatable) while Shandos had some bulgogi.

    Finished by mid-afternoon, we headed back to Seoul again and home where we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Although it's great that there's so many sites near the city and we can tick them off fairly quickly, it's kind of annoying that they're all spaced quite far apart. Aside from the ones right in the city, it'd be hard to do multiples in a day.
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  • Day79

    Garden of Morning Calm

    February 21, 2018 in South Korea ⋅ 🌙 0 °C

    A garden of lights we have visited today. It is our start to a 26-day trip through Korea.

    Wir sind zu einer 26-tagigen Rundreise durch Korea gestartet. Unser erster Stop war heute der Garden of Morning Calm.

  • Day71

    Dora Observatory - View to North Korea

    February 13, 2018 in South Korea ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    The next stop was the Dora Observatory. From here you can see the border and the city of Gaesung located in North Korea.

    Der nächste Stop war dann das Dora Observatory. Von hier kann man die Grenze sowie die nordkoreanische Stadt Gaesung sehen.

  • Day11

    Conociendo a los Chis

    June 27, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    15:34 - Desayuno: curry [/kuri/]. Luego hemos ido a ver Toy Story 4, muy recomendable. He aprendido una nueva palabra: «soosoo» [/susu/], algo así como «simple». Encontré nombre para mí mochila 😂. También estoy aprendiendo a hacerme trenzas de raíz!! Viva la independencia jajaja. Al no tener a Icíar conmigo, tengo que peinarme yo (20 años, ya era hora xd).

    20:36 - Hoy hemos ido al distrito de Bundang, hemos comido con la familia de Chi en un sitio de barbacoa coreana en medio de la montaña, uno de mis favoritos hasta ahora. También he probado el «soju», un licor típico de aquí. Cuando lo sirve alguien más mayor, se debe sujetar el vaso con las dos manos y, al beberlo, el más joven debe girarse como nuestra de respeto (no beberlo de frente a la persona que lo ha servido).

    21:31 - De camino a casa hemos parado en el distrito de Gangnam (de ahí viene la canción), uno de los barrios con más vida nocturna. Hemos dado un paseo y ahora estamos volviendo a casa :)
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  • Day18


    August 13, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Terwijl het einde van onze reis naderde, zochten we de grens met Noord-Korea op. Hier werden we ondergedompeld in de geschiedenis van de verhouding tussen de twee landen.

    We wandelden door een van de tunnels die Noord graafde tot Seoul, met als doel om een aanval te lanceren met dynamiet.

    We aten samen met de militairen lekkere bulgogi en bespiedden de Noord-Koreanen met verrekijkers.

    We wandelden rond in Dorasan Station (het station dat Noord en Zuid verbindt). Opvallend was de optimistische visie richting hereniging van de twee landen.
    De ruimte tussen de twee grenzen, de DMZ, is een prachtige natuurgebied met veel leven.
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  • Day356

    DMZ & der Blick nach Nordkorea

    June 2, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Unser heutiger Tag startet früh, um mit einer Tour zur demilitarisierten Zone (DMZ) zwischen Süd- und Nordkorea zu fahren. Es gibt mehrere typische Anlaufpunkte auf der südkoreanischen Seite und falls man einen Platz bekommt und ca. 70 EUR extra zahlt, kann man sogar in die eigentliche neutrale Zone zwischen den beiden Ländern fahren und das Gebäude (JSA) besuchen, in dem wohl Treffen zwischen den Landesvertretern stattfinden. Leider waren hierfür schon alle Touren ausgebucht, sodass wir die Standardtour gebucht haben.

    Als erstes geht es zu dem Imjingak Park, welcher hauptsächlich als Anlaufstelle zum Ticketkauf für die nächsten "Attraktionen" genutzt wird. Neben den Ticketschaltern gibt es hier die Freedom-Bridge und eine 360° Aussichtsplattform. Allerdings ist der Park noch relativ weit von der Grenze entfernt, sodass das gesamte Land, welches man sieht, Südkorea ist.

    Als nächstes geht es zu der Dorasan Station, ein Bahnhof der Nord- und Südkorea verbindet. Sobald die Grenze geöffnet wird, ist dieses der erste und vorerst einzige Verbindungspunkt für öffentliche Verkehrmittel zwischen Norden und Süden. Derzeit fährt hier einmal täglich ein Zug, allerdings nur in südliche Richtung.
    Ein paar Meter weiter geht es zum Dorasan Obervatory, von wo aus man einen Blick (auch durch Ferngläser) auf die nächstgelegenen Städte und Dörfer Nordkoreas werfen kann. Auf den Straßen hat man nur sehr selten einmal ein vereinzeltes Auto fahren sehen, ansonsten sah das komplette einsehbare Land wie ausgestorben aus. Das mag zum Teil auch daran liegen, dass der nahegelegene Industriepark als vorübergehendes Kooperationsprojekt wieder geschlossen wurde. Zwischen Nord- und Südkorea ist die 4 km breite neutrale DMZ eindeutig zu erkennen, auch wenn wir das Gefühl hatten, dass die Zone nicht immer 4 km breit ist. Im Norden und Süden der Zone ranken Stacheldrahtzäune und der sehr grün bewachsene Abschnitt mit einem Fluss in der Mitte ist mit Landminen versehen. Trotz dessen, dass es in der Ferne wie jedes andere Land aussieht (bis auf die Abwesenheit von Leben), ist der Anblick etwas besonderes und ein Denkanstoß über die gesamte Situation lässt sich nicht vermeiden. Obwohl wir es in Deutschland ja selbst nicht mehr erlebt haben, ist das hier ein grob ähnliches, trauriges Erbe des kalten Krieges.

    Der letzte Stopp auf unserer Tour ist der Third Inflitration Tunnel. Dieser Tunnel wurde von Nordkorea für Angriffe unter der Grenze durch nach Südkorea gegraben und ist der dritte solcher Tunnel, die von Südkorea entdeckt wurden (1978). Insgesamt wurden bisher vier Tunnel entdeckt (der letzte in 1990), man geht jedoch davon aus, dass es um die 20 solcher noch unentdeckten Tunnel gibt. Wir gehen in dem relativ beengenden Tunnel 73 Meter in der Tiefe und in dauerhaft gebückter Haltung bis 120 Meter an die Grenze zu Nordkorea. Im Anschluss wird noch ein Kurzfilm über den Koreakrieg und die DMZ gezeigt.

    Zurück in Seoul werden wir an der City Hall abgesetzt und genießen einige kostenlose kulturelle Performances auf der großen Grünfläche vor dem Gebäude. Das reicht von anscheinend sehr traditionellen koreanischen Tänzen, über modernen Ausdruckstanz bis zu K-Pop und Hip Hop.

    Als nächstes wollen wir einen Blick von oben auf die Stadt werfen und wandern die alte Stadtmauer entlang. Einen Eingang auf sie Stadtmauer zu finden ist gar nicht so leicht wie gedacht und wir hatten auch nicht erwartet, dass die Mauer über einige nahegelegene Berge führt. Der geplante Spaziergang wird also eher zu einer Wanderung aber für den Ausblick hat es sich auf jeden Fall gelohnt.

    Zum Abendessen fahren wir mach Iteawon, das internationale Pub-und Restaurantviertel. Es reiht sich tatsächlich ein Restaurant ans das Nächste und wir entscheiden uns für... Route 66 - American Burger & Pizza 🙈. Wir schämen uns etwas aber wir hatten einfach unglaublich Lust, mal wieder eine Pizza zu essen 🤷🏻‍♀️.
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  • Day71

    DMZ - Imjingak

    February 13, 2018 in South Korea ⋅ ☀️ -2 °C

    Today we have done a trip to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) at the border between South and North Korea. The name of this zone is very strange because there are more than 1.5 Million soldiers in this zone protecting the border.

    Our first stop was Imjingak. It is located directly before the DMZ. From this point all excursions to the border are starting.

    Heute haben wir einen Ausflug in die Demilitarisierte Zone an der Grenze zwischen Nord- und Südkorea gemacht. Der Name dieser Zone ist jedoch nicht wirklich richtig da hier zurzeit über 1,5 Millionen Soldaten stationiert sind.

    Unser erster Stop war Imjingak. Es ist der letzte Ort vor der DMZ von wo aus alle Touren in die DMZ starten.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Gyeonggi-do, Γκιόνγκι-ντο, 京畿道, 경기도

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