Trish Travels: Korea! DMZ Tour and Hangang Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABanana milk for breakfast every morning!
Day 3 of Tour (Day 4 in Korea) and this day was almost the complete opposite of Kpop day tour.
We were headed for the DMZ tour and have no clue at all on what to expect on this journey.
Note that on this day was also the Korea VS Italy match and WE HAD NO IDEA WHATSOEVER than the entire country gathered in Gwanghamun Square to watch the match live.
The fact that we were only about 15 mins away from the said square kind made my heart ache because I felt like we missed a chance of a lifetime.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh well, it was such a sight to see really!
Everyone was wearing red and whether or not most of them skipped work or school, I admire their loyalty and jjang support towards their soccer representative for the world cup.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took these pictures while I was in the bus towards DMZ so I do apologize for the blurriness and sad depiction of how amazing the crowd actually looks like.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven in the tour bus, everyone was watching it. When Korea scored a goal I’ve never felt so excited for something I had no idea about!

On the way to DMZ tour, there were a lot of check points that we had to go through.
We had to bring our passports with us, have those checked by officers in duty and we were strictly not allowed to take pictures of our surrounding as we were reaching the destination.
We even have a UN officer representative with us in the bus (who speaks amazing English, FYI) to brief us on what we were about to see and guidelines on how we should behave or act during the entire tour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe arrived at Camp Bonifas and was made to read and signed a visitor declaration.
Of course, my sister had to take about 10 years in reading everything because, as quoted, “I don’t want to sign my life away!” or something along the lines of dying.
It was a little scary to be honest, knowing that we were so near North Korea and anything can happen but we were hoping and praying that nothing of the sort would happen.

Pictures time!

The start of our destination was in Freedom Highway and we had to pass through Unification Bridge for Passport Checks and finally we arrived at JSA Camp Bonipas.

After that we went to JSA (Panmunjom) tour, Advanced camp, Freedom house,Conference room, Observation post of visitor, Bridge of no return and Stump of felled tree.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOooh! We had to wear ID tags as well.
This is inside the UNCMAC Staff Conference Building that was shared with North Korea.
So technically, we were in North Korean grounds. *cold sweat*
We are not allowed to take pictures with that guy too close so a distance has to be ensured. 
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Also, this trip has a dress code!

No Shorts – for the skirt/dresses they need to be about knee length.
No sandals, flip-flop or slippers
No t-shirts; must be collared shirts
Civilian clothes preferred
Jeans accepted with no holes
No Tank tops
No exercise clothes
No Stretch pants/tights

There were some people who came who didn’t follow these rules (someone explain me why it’s hard to not wear any of those things above but oh well) and they have some clothes in the place for your to borrow for the day.
Pretty strict!

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I give you Military oppa.
Haha he was the UN Korea soldier that was with our bus the entire time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bridge of no return.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome photos that were displayed in the park.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On our way back to Seoul, we were privileged to have a North Korean defector with us.
She’s the one on the left and we had the chance to ask her any questions at all and the woman on the left is our tour guide.
She translated everything for us.
I just thought how different they looked considering they are both Koreans.
It was a very emotional and dramatic bus ride home because of the questions asked to the defector and I thought how careless some of the questions were.
“Do you miss your husband?”
“How different is North Korea from South Korea?”
“Are the mistreatment that we hear from the news all true?”
“How did you escape?”

Those type of questions were answered and my sister couldn’t stop crying.
I think because of the fact that she escaped North Korea with her daughter and the journey was not comfortable at all.
Judging from her outlook she really had this strong character about her and her fingers showed signs of hard labor and pain.

I guess the entire DMZ tour experience just kind of forced you to reflect on your life and makes you look back at how grateful you should be that you weren’t born in North Korea.
I don’t have words to explain about how I felt that day but I remember just holding my sister’s hand almost the entire tour because man, feels everywhere.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpon reaching Myeongdong, we saw city hall fully dedicated to the Sewol disaster and yellow ribbons everywhere for those who have donated to the cause.
I guess it kinda made me realized how South Korea has their own misfortunes to deal with.
Goes to show that everyone faces hardships, no matter where you are.
I guess you just have to be grateful no matter what.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we were in our “reflective” mode we decided to go to Hangang Park and although it was cold for my sister and I (was probably around 15 Celsius?), they were a lot of families and couples on their picnic mats and just hanging around, despite the fact that it was a weekday and it was pretty late at night too.
I think it was around this time that I realized how much I really wanted to live in Seoul because of places like these.
ugh, Korea please.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe bought some snacks and spent a lot of time talking there about everything and also realized how amazingly cute korean couples are!
They were practically everywhere and they were all doing their own little cute couples activity like exchanging gifts (probably their 100th day), lighting up fireworks (also probably their 100th day), jogging together, cycling, skateboarding and many more.
We had a lot of time just people watching and also talking about Kpop.
UGH BEST NIGHT EVER REALLY.
I don’t know why we couldn’t take proper pictures that night, something went haywire with my camera and just refused to take pictures. Oh well!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think we managed to take the last train home?
FYI the subway station from the Hangang Park was like 4 stories down!
I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe hahah!

I probably missed out on a couple of things.
After we reached home from the tour we ate at Myeongdong once again and I think we did some shopping at Daiso and places like that?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe ate at this Japanese restaurant which name escapes me but yeah we were such noob cakes we didn’t know what to do so my sister watched this couple first before we realized we had to grind the spices on this mortar and pestle thing and added some sauce to it.
We could see the waitress looking at us but she probably couldn’t speak english so she just watched us in both embarrassment and despair.

I forgot to mention that at the end of the DMZ tour there was a place where we could get souvenirs!
My sister bought a couple of stuff like North Korean golf balls (I think) and some other stuff while I bought NK currency, stickers and keychains I think?
photo 3 (16)photo 2 (18)We had an early day that day so I had no time to style my hair whatsoever.
It was just a dry mess of straight blonde hair but shrugs, glad I don’t have it anymore although it did bring a lot of attention. Hahah!

Just one more post about Korea where we went around Gwanghamun square to visit good ol’ King Sejong and also how I sprained my ankle and scared a bunch of ahjussis.
I’m actually pretty sad this post series is over because I feel the need to go Korea again!
But first, to find a job that actually pays! haha!

Thanks for reading!
Love, Trish <3