Wednesday, 23 October 2013


7th Sep 2013

General rocky view
Today started with a trek up a mountain peak, in the Kumgang range, about 40 mins bus drive to the base. The trails in this, the Mamulsang Park, are well laid out with steps cut into the rock and metal ladders with handrails towards the top. Just as well. Spectacular scenery and, luckily, good weather. It is a very steep climb nevertheless and much sweat was expended. I think six of us, including Song Sim, completed it. It took about 2 hours to get to the top which involved a climb of about 2000' if memory serves me right. Lots of streams and waterfalls. OK, not exactly Mt Everest, but still pretty knackering.
The highest peak in the district, Piro, is at 5400'.

Left and below: Views on the way up.

Left: Song Sim at the summit with a plaque which I'm sure said something along the lines of 'Kim Il Sung was 'ere'. This whole area is covered in plaques and inscriptions in the rock. In the far gone days it was a very spiritual part of the country for Buddhist monks. 
It took half the time to get down. We met  several Chinese, or maybe Taiwanese, tourists up here.

Then on to Seakumgang which is on the coast and actually inside the DMZ. We had to pass though 'border' guard posts  ( a bit more paperwork ) at which the soldiers saluted us smartly. They are very polite. This seaside area has only recently been opened up to tourists and has a few 'trails' mapped out.

Left: A sign board showing the trails.

Right: Looking south. The land in the distance is South Korea.

A couple of Northern artillery positions were spotted in emplacements along the cliff.

Left: Some brave souls went for a swim.
Given the opportunity and resources this area would make a great seaside resort.

Right: Song Sim negotiating a good price for sacks of enormous mussels from some local fishermen which we had for supper that night. Delicious. They go well with a rather good rice wine/spirit which we had come to enjoy.
We were also given fresh sea-urchins to eat here which tasted surprisingly good once you had picked the spikes out of your hand.

Another short drive back over the DMZ crossing to Samil Lake ( left ). We were standing on the balcony of a shelter which, apparently, N.Korean soldiers use as a small arms firing point to shoot at targets on the lake. Not while we were here they didn't.

Right: And a suspension bridge on the way back down.

Back to the 'resort' where the local fire station was pointed out, and very smart it was too. The only things it appeared to lack were fire engines and firemen. Presumably they were all away putting out fires? We got back at 5.15pm for a well deserved drink. No! Despite trying to persuade the staff behind the bar that we were thirsty, no service until 6.00pm.

Another Korean phrase learnt today: 'Ul-mah-immika?' for 'How much'?

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