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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Jarrah trips out to Seoul, DMZ, and Busan
Mood:  happy
Topic: world

Our correspondent Jarrah is doing an English teaching job in South Korea. He was a walks leader for Tassie Tigers before that. Here is his latest report arrived last Sunday:

hiya tom!
i've just spent 5 days travelling - went to Seoul and Busan...here's the guts of the journey...
my journey was wonderful  - I spent many, many hours walking around some absolutely amazing markets -  and I think I found (in Busan) the best market that I've ever been to! truly remarkable. You name the object and it was there and on sale! everything from food to cheap clothes to designer label (very expensive) stuff to movie theatres...literally anything and everything!

Seoul was incredible. One of the very few times in my life i've been to a truly HUGE city and been able to wander round. Seoul has a population of - this still spins me out - 22 million people! More than the whole continent of aus! Busan's not too far behind - i believe it's around 14 million....
I did a day trip to the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone - the border between the North and the South) too. what a trippy place. fences EVERYWHERE (including for a great chunk of the Han River - both sides, triple layer 3m. high topped with razor wire and occupied guard posts every 200m. The river that runs out of the North flows into it and they've had a lot of NK agents trying it on....). The highlight was a walk down to the Infiltration Tunnel No. 3 - the crazy NK mob have built 4 of these things - that we're told about, anyway - all discovered between 1973 and 1991! trippy to say the least. It is 1.7km long and we got to walk to the place where it's blocked off by a 4" thick steel wall - almost 300m. into it. it's 75m. down and the 3rd deepest - No. 4 is 180m under the ground....weird. to say the least. didn't take many pics becaus it's so restricted. we were told where and when we could take them, and in what direction. the other trippy thing was that we weren't allowed off the roads - any of them - because there are 700 000 landmines which are unaccounted for....that is the closest i've ever been to a landmine, and quite strange because the night before i saw a pretty ordinary film with Angelina Jolie called "Beyond Borders". dunno if you've seen it - if you haven't i wouldn't worry - maybe have a look at IMDb for details - but the relevant thing is that there were stacks of landmines in that flick. hmmmm
the place that I stayed on my first night in Busan is called a Yudong or "love hotel" - usual clients are couples looking for somewhere very discrete! I moved up to the beach suburb of Haeundae the following day, to an international hostel. that night's place was fine and cheap as chips, but it was a bit small and there is absolutely NO view...felt pretty strange, too... 
the trip from Seoul to Busan was as good as I was hoping. I caught the Bullet train,  first class mind! and it was amazing! It got up to a maximum speed of 320k/hr at a couple of points - the video screen showed our pace all the time. Very much like an airplane really - even down to the headphone socket in the side of the seat!
the photos:
the first two are of a community garden in the coastal town of Busan. when i saw it i immediately thought of you and the remarkable conversation you had with the old chap about Simpson and his donkey! these gardens are all over the place, but this one particularly struck me as a great example with the high rise apartment buildings in the background. Most of the gardeners are older folk - it's not uncommon to see a 90-yr-old man, bent over double, ploughing his little plot and growing chillis, cabbages, carrots, shallots or something similar...
the third is the Han River. It's fenced because the river that flows out of the North empties into the Han which flows right through the centre of Seoul. Until 1991, they were constantly finding North Korean secret service agents swimming down the river to spy on Seoul, so the fenced 23 km. on either side. it's lit up like a christmas tree at night and there are occupied (by armed soldiers) sentry posts every 200 metres for the entire 23km.
the fourth is the KTX, or Bullet train.
the fifth is the Markets in Nompodong in Busan.  
hope you enjoy this!!!! love, light, peace and happiness, 

Postscript # 1:

hi! thanks!!! ...coming back at ya - I've managed to work out how to link your RSS to my blog...here's the URL for my place...
check it out...i've posted all my pics (well, the ones worth looking at anyway) there.....love, light, peace and happiness, jarrah

Posted by editor at 12:36 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007 6:43 AM EADT

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