Day 46 of 111. Seoul, South Korea
The Gyeongbokgung Palace was beautiful to visit. Our guide helped us understand the organization of the buildings. I really enjoyed the colors and patterns and details everywhere. The feng shui of the palace has mountains in the background from which comes strength. The water in the moat helps retain the strength and the fantasy creatures overlooking the moat keeps away evil spirit. The guards were practicing their changing of the guard when we arrived. The spectacle was colorful and impressive. One interesting fact was a jug that was used to collect and urine to be used as fertilizer.
Day 45 of 111. Incheon, South Korea
One of the dangers is that there are thousands and thousands of land mines planted along the DMZ, a 4 km swath of land stretching the border of North and South Korea. The tiny trianglular signs warn of this danger. However, there were some foods to watch out for as well. At a small park with rides and food stands that marks the northernmost point that South Koreans can travel, I saw dried squid for sale as well as a large dish of silk worm cocoons for sale. Yum.
We had lunch at a nice Korean fusion restaurant with a hot pan of beef and vegetables and plates to share of various mysterious, but delicious foods. The only actual food we recognized was kimchi.
Our last stop was at Simpo Market which was the kind of open air market we hoped to see in Korea. There were many amazing things for sale from flowers to live turtles (for soup). The steaming pile of eels was pretty impressive.
Day 45 of 111. Incheon, South Korea
The two strongest impressions of South Korea were the large number of condominiums indicative of the very high population density and the amount of barbed wire and observation posts along the coasts, the river, and the DMZ. It was obvious from our observations and from the information of our tour guide that the threat of aggression from North Korea is a constant and real concern.
Our tour today was to the DMZ and the Third Infiltration Tunnel which is a tunnel built by the North Koreans as a secret way to send troops to attack Seoul, South Korea. The tunnel was discovered in 1978 with information from a man who left North Korea to South Korea. A tunnel was dug down to find the infiltration tunnel and there are tours of the tunnel. It was a very cold day, but even colder as we went down a small tram for a 300 meter ride to the actual tunnel. The tram went down a tube two meters by two meters. We were given hard hats to wear which really proved invaluable as many of us were hitting our heads on the trip down as well as when we followed the tunnel to the Demarcation Line between North and South. We had to walk bent over for much of the trek.
We were not allowed to take pictures in the tunnel, but there were several interesting photo opportunities in the small park above the tunnel.
The very bottom picture shows two large towers. The black tower on the left is a flagpole for North Korea and the blue tower on the right is a flagpole for South Korea. This makes the border between the two countries.
Day 45 of 111. Port of Incheon, South Korea
Early morning entry into Incheon, Korea, involved passage through a lock with very little room to spare. At each port, a pilot from the locality comes on board. Looking up into the navigation window I could see our captain and I think the other fellow was the pilot. The sun was just coming up as we left the lock. From the breakfast area on deck 8, we were eye level with the tower of the lock with the sign, “Port of Incheon”!
As we entered the bay on our way to Incheon we saw a tugboat, the captain in the navigation deck and a LOT of cars ready for export… probably Kia or Hyundai.
Day 44 of 111. The Yellow Sea nearing Incheon, South Korea
In watercolor class we tried our hand at stylized bamboo painting. On our tours I took pictures of bamboo to get some ideas about how the leaves should look. It turns out that there are over 300 species of bamboo so almost anything can happen with leaves. Who knew?
Here are two of our table mates on Kimono Night. The ladies are posing with our head waiter, Indie. We are leaving Japan and heading to Korea where the weather is -6 C!