Day 5 – JSA & DMZ Tour

A super rush & early day for us!

We are supposed to report at Camp Kim at 7am for registration and the bus was scheduled to leave at 730am Sharp. Stupidly followed the subway map and took the extremely slow Jungang Line in the morning. Wasted most of our travelling time waiting for the train at Jungang Line.

We were late for registration but managed to board the bus before 730am and we weren’t the last to board! (It is a Hooray deep within me).

At 730am sharp, the bus left. We were attached to an English-speaking tour guide who tried her very best to educate us with some history between South and North Korea that leads to the divide. In addition, she also briefed us on the security measures that we will be going through.

After 1.5hours of bus ride, we arrived right outside the security gates of JSA. Waited for a soldier to do a checking on our passports before moving into the secured vicinity with us. Upon reaching the briefing zone, we had to board their internal bus services that will be driving us around the JSA.

Within JSA, the soldiers asked us to line up like school kids in 2 rows (just minus going hand in hand). The various tour groups took turn to enter the JSA. We were being told that only the grey buildings belong to the North Korea.

The soldier brought us into a conference room where the officials from North and South Korea held their meetings in. IMG_7436(e)There are 2 guards in the room and the above is one of them. We can take photo with him but it is not advisable to touch him. You may end up being taken down if you wish to try it out! IMG_7439(e) IMG_7441(e) IMG_7443(e)Taking photos with the better looking security soldier in the house. To the rectangular table behind us, the North and South will sit at different side of it. The centre line was being marked with the black-looking-studs on the table. IMG_7444(e) IMG_7446(e)And it looks like this from the outside. To re-emphasise, the buildings in blue belongs to / guarded by the South Korean while the grey buildings at the back belongs to the North Korean.

While you look at the properties of North Korea, we are warned not to pin point or do any hand signs/gestures. Keep your arms by the side and just LOOK. We are allowed to take photos of anything in front of us but not any buildings or structures behind us – The main building which we came through from. IMG_7453(e) IMG_7457(e)The bus then brought us to somewhere for us to have a “better” look of North Korea. Very very far from us, there is this blue security guard house, and after passing through, it will be the land of North Korea.

There is a village built and propaganda was constantly being broadcast; 24|7.  IMG_7467(e)The bus took a loop and head back to JSA. Along the way, we pass by this “bridge of no return” where we can only have sight of it on the bus. If you decided to just walk pass the bridge, you will no longer be able to get back to South Korea. Or maybe you will die trying to enter North Korea.

Very near to JSA, is the Dorasan Station. The tour guide brought us to Dorasan Station before Lunch. IMG_7474(e) IMG_7477(e) IMG_7479(e) IMG_7483(e) IMG_7484(e) IMG_7485(e) IMG_7486(e) IMG_7503(e) IMG_7504(e)If I am not wrong, this train brings you to North Korea. 1 trip a day.

Lunch Time! Lunch Time!IMG_7508(e) IMG_7509(e)There is only 2 choices: Bimbimbap (Vegetables Only.) or Beef Bulgogi. Their concept of food collection, where you queue up and take as much as you can eat. Reminds me of 1 of the Return of Superman episodes of Daehan Mingkuk Manse. They had to take as much as they can eat and get reprimanded for not finishing their food.

Tour continues right after lunch – The Observatory. IMG_7512(e)You can pay a small token to use the Binoculars but look at this! So instead of queueing for the Binos, I saw a few Aunties squeezing in between for photos. AND I DID THE SAME! Aunty-mentality!IMG_7514(e)At the far end, it is North Korea. As if we can really see :S IMG_7516(e) IMG_7518(e)A picture at the observatory before we board the bus for our final destination – 3rd infiltration tunnel!

Upon reaching, we were asked to leave all our belongings (including smart phones & camera) in the bus as we are not allowed to bring any of such items into the theatre, museum & tunnel!

The best part of this tour, the 7mins long video of the history (in an air-conditioned and comfortable environment). After the video, we moved through the museum very quickly before heading towards the 3rd infiltration tunnel.

There is a man-made pavement that leads us from ground level all the way to the tunnel. It is pretty steep and slippery. My toes hurt much on my way down to the tunnel. Upon reaching the starting point of the tunnel, we are allowed to walk approximately 200m into the tunnel before making a turn and head back up.

I am a 1.61m tall lady and I hit my head multiple times while walking in and out of the tunnel. You can imagine how confine the space is! Asked if it is worth walking? If you are in for some exercising, it will be a YES. If you are not in for any form of exercise, it is not worth walking through the tunnel. It look exactly the same, metre after metre. Nothing at the end for you to be WOW-ed over. Furthermore, you can’t take any photos without smart phone or camera. *It is prohibited, for I don’t know what reason*

While waiting for everyone to go through the tunnel and walk back up. We had a bit of free time to roam around. And so it is photo time!IMG_7519(e)This guy knew I am taking a photo and stood there until I am done taking! Haha! And his friend laughed at him for being playful. IMG_7521(e) IMG_7522(e)Here’s us with DMZ. IMG_7524(e) IMG_7528(e) IMG_7533(e) IMG_7547(e) IMG_7555(e)After the tour, the bus brought us back to Camp Kim.

We dragged our injured toes to Lotte Mart. Grabbed out tidbits (just enough to fill a carrier basket) before heading back home. We changed up and rest before heading out to search for Dinner!

We roamed around Sinsa-dong and had nothing in mind. Nothing to shop and nothing interesting to eat. IMG_7561(e)And this is our dinner. Saw some signage advertising the restaurant with artiste visiting them as filming location. Nothing fanciful. We could have eaten something better than that. IMG_7562(e) IMG_7563(e) IMG_7564(e)As recommended by *Ching, I really wanted to try out something within the Line Café but we were late by a step and had no vacant seats for us.

We did spend a bit of them doing window shopping before heading back home. IMG_7565(e)A cup of coffee to end my day.

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