This morning we went to the DMZ! Highlights included going to Freedom Bridge, going down into the 3rd tunnel and the Dana Observatory.
The 3rd tunnel was discovered 52km from Seoul in 1978. Turns out North Koreans were digging tunnels to invade the South again, and when the tunnels were discovered, they claimed they were coal tunnels and painted the walls black. We walked way down in the tunnel and had to wear helmets. I wish we had been able to take photos but they were strictly forbidden.
We also went to Dana and got to look over to propaganda village in North Korea. We were so close to the border!
We got to go to the Amethyst factory at the end of the tour. Amethyst is the jewel of Korea and of course, Pat and I could not resist! She got a necklace and I got a necklace and set of earrings!
After we got let off in Itaewon where there is a large American military presence. We ate, wandered around a bit, and then took a TAXI BACK!! And they MADE ME GO IN THE FRONT SEAT!! I was so brave. We had a great taxi driver thank goodness! Not sure what is in store for dinner – perhaps sweet and sour pork and some noodles… yum!
On Saturday we went to “Downtown Seoul”. We got our T Metro cards and ventured onto the subway. The subway here is very easy to use, lots of English, and it is safe and clean. We first went to Changdeokgun Place. This was the palace used by many Joseon kings since 1104. We needed to take a guided tour and it was worth it! It was a beautiful place.
Leave it to me to find a library!
After we left the palace, we went to Insadong Market! We loved it! There were hundreds of little shops selling traditional souvenirs and lots of Korean pottery. We bought a few goodies, and even got Alex’s name put on a stamp featuring the year of the rat symbol. When the lady who was making it discovered that we were adopting she kept thanking us and gave us a discount.
We then ventured out of the market to get some lunch (traditional Subway… ) and to go to City Hall to catch a City Bus Tour. What a mess that was. We got really lost due to a major demonstration and police presence that was going on. I’m talking at least a thousand police officers and tonnes of police buses. Turns out there is a number of areas that are marked for redevelopment and tenants are demanding better compensation. Last week during another protest 5 people died when the police intervened and there is a warrant out for the tenants leader. So we got really turned around, but in the end we found the bus tour and toured around Seoul to get a grasp of what the city is made up of. We got off and walked up to Seoul Tower and looked over the city at dusk – what a beautiful (and huge) place – including the suburbs there are over 23 million people! Second largest in the world!
Eventually we got back and went once again to Yeoksam Station and had some Vietnamese Soup – yummy!