Yesterday we had what is known around the 4077th as a rich full day.

The day started at the crack of dawn with an amazing breakfast at the Courtyard marriot at which I am staying. Yes I’m getting a little soft in my old age and staying at nicer hotels. After breakfast it was pack up some water and my rain coat (the forecast called for 90% chance of rain) and head off to explore the subway system to get to where I am being picked up for my DMZ tour.

Well before I could get on the subway I had to figure out how to find the subway. So I spend a few minutes at the front desk getting directions and took the opportunity to get a small lesson in Korean in how to say thank you. It took me the rest of the day to get correct LOL.

From the hotel the subway station is only a short walk across the street. at 8am on Sunday there is NO traffic but a few people. When I hit the crosswalk, it took every once of my control not to jaywalk across the street. I mean there wasn’t a car even parked on the street let alone driving, but the people on the other side of the crosswalk were waiting patiently for the walk sign. So I figured I should follow the example.. wow.. it relaly is hard to stand there and watch a crosswalk sign say don’t walk and not walk when the place is empty.

Anyway, down into the subway, which has to be by far the cleanest subway I’ve everr seen. I mean dinner could be served off the floor here. Of course I had my usual challenge trying to figure out how to get a transit card… standing in front of the pay machine which kindly had an english language button, I think I probably tried for 15 minutes before I thought to ask the young man in the convienice shop next to the machines how I got a card. He told me that I needed to buy the card first and then fill it but only with cash.

So that sorted out I was down the stairs and waiting for the subway. A short ride later I emerge into a labryinth of underground hallways and corridors that were I have to admit exceptionally well signed. I find my exit and WHAM… 90 degree heat, high humidity and sunshine… so much for that forecast. Well I had about 30 minutes to kill so I gave mom & dad a call and then Mr. Eric my driver showed up to pick me up and take me to the shuttle bus we would ride to the DMZ.

G you’ll be happy to know that the seats on a Korean minibus are only marginally larger than the ones we had in Thailand.. and this of course meant I could squeeze my knees into the seat in front of me and hope I didn’t have to move.

Sadie our guide joins us at the minibus and this lady has DYNAMITE ENERGY.. really made the tour come alive. As it turns out the one place that I very much wanted to see, The Joint Secuirty Area at Panmujeong was closed and had been for almost a year due to COVID concerns by the UN. But on the docket was still some cool stuff, just being in the DMZ itself, a trip down into a covert tunnel the North Koreans (the 3rd one found actually) built to try and invade the south and the observatory where you could overlook into North Korea.

Well for me the highlight was deifnitely the tunnel. After almost an 80m walk down a relatively steep incline (turns out were told thats close to the height of a 25 story building, we get to the tunnel. Now, I’m not a giant but I’m no pee wee either. But for the next 170m I had to walk in a bow so I wouldn’t hit my head on the tunnel roof. Thank goodness they made us wear hardhats as when it was quite in the tunnel you could hear about every 30 seconds teh THUNK of someones head hitting the roof. The walk was actually quite uncomfortable with dripping water all over but it really was walking hunched over that was killing my back. Not for the clausterphobic either (which I am not). But then you got to the three concrete barriers that blocked the north from the south. We were only 200m away from North Korea. Actually felt really cool to be standing there so close. But then we had to go back UP the 25 story building .. albeit a sloped walk it was not a walk amongst the daisys in the park.

To the informed reader, you know that I sweat just looking at the sun. Add in some exercise and by the time I emerge from the tunnel, Sadie is rushing over to the desk to get me some paper towels to mop the sweat off my head LOL.

Unfortunately no cameras of any kind were allowed in the tunnel so we had to make do with the cheesy tourist replications up top.

Then it was back on the bus up to the observatory way on top of a hill. From here you could see the stick measuring contest between North and South. And by this I mean, the South Koreans buit a tall flagpole, I think it was about 80m tall, with their flag so the North Koreans turned around and built one almost 160m tall. To me it just epitomized the sillyness of the whole north/south separation. I will have to say, in the South here, they pay a lot of lip service to wanting to reunify but they will be honest and say both sides want it but only if it is done thier way. So they build tall flag poles. Whatever.

It was cool to see the DMZ fenceline and the North and South Korea guardposts as well as the abandoned city in the middle of the DMZ.

Finally the much anticipated and highly prognosticated tourist trap crap on a shelf store stop was made. I chose to use the toilet. Other decided to eat soybean ice cream made from soybeans grown in the DMZ. Yick!

Finally back on the way to Seoul on the bus and I finally realize just how LARGE Seuol is. I mean its huge.

Once off the bus a handful of us decide to go and get a cocktail before heading off. First we try the Westin lounge and there is a 20 group wait at the hotel lobby bar. Next I find what appears to be a German bier halle just about a 10 minute walk away. We are all getting tired but we make it there and damnit if it isn’t closed even thought the Naver app said it was open.

One of the young women in our group spoke Korean relatively well and spoke to the BBQ vendor and he pointed us back to the restaurant two doors down where we camped out and I was introduced to Soju.

Soju and sweetish rice based liquer is actually quite good on its own, kind of a sweet watered down vodka. But then you mix it with a splash of the local beer (which I honestly don’t remember the name) and it becomes a little shot glass of heaven.

So we sit and drink and eat and evenetually I have to figure out just HOW much older than everyone I’m sitting with I am. There is Anuja from MSU who didn’t even comprehend my M hat as being from Michigan.. sparties.. shes 19, then Lisa from Germany, 18, Myah from Melbourne 27 and David from Columbia living in Berlin at 37. Of course then the elder statesman holding court here at 51… they were very cool people though and we had a great time. Of course leaving and finding my way to the proper bus turned out to be an adventure as the GPS on my phone would tell me I’m on one side of the street when I really was on the other and so I walked back and forth maybe 5 times through the underpass tyring to figure out when and where my bus was coming. I finally sort out that and I hop on the bus where I have to make a change just two stops away.

While I wait the 20 minutes I’m struggling to keep my eyes open as one I’ve had a few, but mostly I’m just exhausted becuase its a day that started at 6am and it was 98 degrees most of the day. Finally my bus arrives and I can’t find my transit card to pay… I look back out the door and its sitting on the bus stop bench. The driver quickly opens the door to let me dart out and get it and then I’m on my way. Now I’m REALLY falling asleep but I cannot miss my stop so I’m fighting it the whole 40 minute ride.

When I finally get off the bus and hit the hotel lobby it finally hits me that I haven’t eaten dinner at its 10:30pm. This area kinda is rolled underground by this time so I call the front desk to see if there is something I can get to eat in the hotel. Yes they say, but I have to come down to the resturant and eat it there.

So exhausted, sweaty and hungry only wanting some food and a cold shower, down I go to the lobby. When I sit down what they had for food was snacks. I mean, peanuts, fruit, just tiny little morsels. I was grumpy now and didn’t want to pay big money forr tiny food. So I just went back up to my room, had a bunch of beef jerkey, and a couple of cookies and a diet pepsi. I know sounds delicious right. It wasn’t but it did cut my hunger enough that I was able to get through my shower and pass out in bed.

Right now I sit at breakfast writing this and am getting ready to check out and head up into the Seoul city center where hopefully I’ll make a quick tour of a palace and then its off to a tour I booked for eating and drinking your way through the back alleys of Seol… should be fun.

Miss all of you.. more adventures to come .. and in the immortal words of Henry Blake.. Illbeseenya and gumbye

12 Replies to “A Rich Full Day”

  1. I can’t see the pictures even on my Mac. Hope someone knows the secret. Enjoying the commentary.

  2. Game over for me at claustrophobic tunnel. Check please.
    I will have to live vicariously thru the photos! Although oddly enough, I’ve been caving in Kentucky. Not anymore, though.

  3. Great recap!
    A Sparty’s angelic eyes can’t see evil, that’s why your hat didn’t register. 😜
    Be safe!

  4. Everything does look clean. How long before the barbed wire comes down?? Man can be stubborn and stupid. You always meet the coolest people. Your dinner reminded me of our first night in Cinque Terra!!
    An interesting and full day. I would NEVER make the tunnel. NEVER!!!

  5. Always love the detailed color commentary of your adventures! Good to hear you had some countrymen to hang with (Sparties or not)!
    Note: Stop leaving monetary items at your seating locations! 😳🥴🤦🏼‍♀️🤪
    And… not sure if it’s just me, but no pictures came through. 🥺
    Stay safe and adventure on! Looking forward to the next update! 😎

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