Venturing to the North Korea-South Korea border.
When we first got our Korea tickets booked, i knew i wanted to visit the border, despite the many raised eyebrows i received. And as much as we hated taking tours, it was the only way we could get there. Our Airbnb apartment was conveniently right next to the Ibis Ambassador Hotel Insadong, which was also one of the pickup locations. It was still dark and we had to wait for another few people to arrive, so i kept warm in the van.
Until the driver told me that it had started to snow.
I quickly shot out of the van and just stood there under the falling snowfall, smiling profusely like an idiot. It stopped snowing by the time the sun came out so i guess the tour was a good thing after all. We never had a reason to wake up before sunrise cause most of the locations had opening times that we had to abide to.
Our seats were right behind the driver so we got a good view of everything. There were wired fences and guardhouses all along the Han River, to protect Seoul in the event of any ambush attacks from the North. And apparently, there’s also a hotline for suspected spies.
Our first stop was the Imjingak Park and Freedom Bridge. After that, we were brought to the DMZ Theater/Exhibition Hall where they showed us a video clip detailing the history and discovery of the infiltration tunnels. We were at the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel as this is the nearest one to Seoul. We weren’t allowed to bring any cameras down the tunnel and believe me when i say that that part in itself is a workout.
You walk down this long, steep path (the climb back up is the physically challenging part) before reaching the actual tunnel itself. From there, you keep walking until you reach the third barricade, peer through a small window showing the second barricade, and then turn back. You can also see dynamite slots along the walls, which was denied by the North and covered up as coal mining. The funny thing about this tunnel is that it made me thank my Asian genes for being short as the tunnel ceiling was quite low. You could constantly hear the others getting hit on their helmets.
At the Dora observatory, you can actually look at North Korea which was pretty cool in my opinion. The Dorasan Station is a working train line that takes you back and forth from Seoul. The boyfriend and i got a little carried away taking pictures outside that we didn’t notice our tour group leaving. It was only when we were walking around aimlessly that we saw our bus leaving and quickly ran over. Thank goodness for our timing!
We were so drained from all the rush and immediately fell asleep on the way back. And like every tour, it always ends with a trip to some factory or store where they try to sell you things (the part i hate about joining tours the most). They brought us to a ginseng center which none of us were interested, and after a long moment of awkward lingering and the salespeople giving up, we finally made our way back home.