Sunday, June 24, 2012

Visiting the DMZ and War memorial!

Visiting the DMZ Or the Demilitarised Zone is top of the list of "things to do" while in Kores.


 This is the buffer Zone between the South and the, Korea.  All the way to the Zone one notices security fencing and guard houses. These guardhouses each have two armed guards.


 Manning these places must cost the government a fortune!

 It was so exciting doing this trip as both Warren and I had visited Check Point Charlie which divided Germany, many years ago.


 It is worth going on an organized trip as the guides have many stories to share plus all the history. This zone is supposed to be one of the most dangerous places to be in the world.

A view of North Korea.

 The South Korean Government has turned this Zone into a Tourist destination and while one is cautioned all the time, the whole experience is rather exciting.


 Memorials have been erected and places where the public can pay tribute to their loved ones.


 Several tunnels have been discovered where the a north Koreans have attempted to infiltrate the South and Tunnel number three is open to Tourists to visit. It is a challenging walk to the end of these tunnels and coming back Warren had to push me up the long incline otherwise I might still be battling to get to the surface!

A bullet ridden train engine.

This station was built to cross the border but has never been used!


 No photographs are permitted to be taken beyond the yellow line. However there are a few coin operated telescopes available and I was lucky to share one and to see a North Korean working in the field. Evidently they use very old fashioned methods for clearing the fields. I think he was a North Korean!!!!

 This trip took about four hours.

On return to the city we decided to round off the day with a visit to the War memorial.

 One of the things that surprised me that in this rather somber museum there were many groups of little children visiting with their teacher.

On asking I was told they were three or four years old. I am sure they enjoyed seeing some of the airplanes and tankers but for the rest.... I am not so sure.

 One thing I did enjoy seeing is a tribute to the South Africans that took part in the Korean war of 1950 to 1953! South Africa sent 826 men to Korea. 243 were Air Force Staff and 543 were ground personnel. 37 men gave their lives to the cause.
The Statue of Brothers. The elder a South Korean soldier and the younger a North Korean soldier, symbolizing  the split between the North and the South Korea.

 After this full day of "Warring" it is time for some light hearted fun. I am all warred out!

Our first outing in Korea.

Coming to Korea has been the most amazing experience, I was not sure what to expect despite doing a whole lot of research before hand. Staying with folk who have lived here for a few years has made a HUGE difference and we are forever grateful.

 Trevor is the M.D. for Audi and he, his lovely wife Sam and son Josh are about to leave Korea for their next posting. Despite it not being a good time to have visitors, Trevor insisted we continue with our plans to visit them in Seoul. Their home is in a lovely area and is very convenient to public transport, which we soon learnt to use.

 Seoul is a great city for tourists and everything works like clock work. Our first outing was to visit The Korean Furniture Museum.

 This title does not do this museum justice as it was not only furniture being displayed but much more than that. It is a privately owned Museum which showcases a collection of ten different style of homes built over time.


 These homes are brilliant pieces of carpentry and no nails are used to keep them together. Each house depicts different periods in the history of Korea.

The houses showcases beautifully crafted furniture. In parts of the museum we were free to take photos and some parts we were requested not to.


 The view from where this museum is situated is wonderful as it is built on one of the many hills on which the city of Seoul is built.


 We were fortunate to see a display of " Gucci " as the museum was being used as a backdrop for handbags and luggage by Gucci created over over the decades.

 This was a great first taste of Korea and we are so excited for what is in store for us.
Kimchi Pots.

This interesting pan is filled with water, put on a fire and when hot is used for ironing clothes.

Seoul city Tour

On our first day we decided it was wise to take a bus tour of the city. We used the hop on and hop off bus service which stops at all the main Tourist spots around Seoul. The bus was air conditioned and comfortable. It is not so easy taking photos from a moving vehicle so for the most part we just sat back and enjoyed the trip.

One of the first things one notices are the clean, attractive pavements. Pretty baskets of flowers and flower pots filled with attractive and colourful flowers are every where!! We never saw any litter anywhere.

Seoul is built on the Han river and no less than 27 bridges cross the river. The banks of the river have been developed and it is a favourite place for the city dwellers to cycle, camp, run and generally have fun.

One is struck by the many beautiful high rise buildings interspersed with green belts.
Half way through our trip we got off the bus to do some exploring and were amazed by the cleanliness of the streets. Seoul is an efficient city with all crossings and walk ways regulated. Most of the main streets have underground passages and these area often are home to various markets.

One rarely sees beggars but I could not help noticing this fellow who we saw at the beginning of our holiday and then again just before we left. He was wearing the same clothes and was in the same position. If his back wasn't troubling him before he took up his begging position it sure will afterwards.