Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Mount Geumgang - Part Set

After coming down from the mountain and having lunch at the restaurant, we came back to the “town”. There was not that much time before we were to go on the second walk of the day, a relatively relaxing walk and climb along the banks of a lake called Samilpo.

We actually had the option of taking the time off. One or two people went to the spa, which is supposed to be very good. The one Canadian girl who went there said she drew many stares, but she was also able to see something most people never get to see. She saw the living quarters of the South Korean staff. She said it was uniform to the point of being freaky. Every section looked exactly like the next, right down to the kettle. For the most part, they are only allowed to have items provided by Hyundai Company. I wonder if the South and North Koreans are allowed to visit each other’s quarters.

I could do with a nice day at a spa myself, but I had to squeeze in more walking, as if walking is the only reason we exist on this earth. I can say little about the lake itself other than that it would make a great place for a picnic. The one picture that I include in this post shows the basic view of it. The lake is almost completely frozen over. Two people even thought it a good idea to take a walk across while every one else took the “safe” walk and climbed along the banks.

This part of the day was actually very short and almost unremarkable, but still worth a visit for someone who has never seen a frozen lake. I doubt I will go there again if I have a chance though. Apart from the Lake Crossers, the only interesting thing was the huge rock carvings. Each character must be about 20 meters, maybe more.

The tour guide for our bus had the habit of singing for us. I have no idea what she was singing about, but I assume that it had some relevance to that part of the trip on which we found ourselves. She had a nice voice and treated us to its sound on the way back to the “town”. Somehow, I do not think the other guides sing for their people.

As soon as we got back to the “town”, we had to go get ready for the Moranbong Acrobatic Troup. Apparently it is the pride of this part of Korea and I will admit, they are fantastic

Think of something like Curc du Sole, without all the pomp and glamour and more of the amazing stuff. That is what we saw here. A few times during the show, I caught myself staring open mouthed at the stage. I am just glad nothing flowed out of my mouth. If only they would get rid of the irritating women who did the “This is the greatest thing to happen in the world”-voided announcements, then it would be perfect. I suppose it goes well with the claim at the beginning that we were to be treated to the greatest show ever, even better than the night before, and the night before that and…

After the show, we had Chinese food, which turned out to be Korean style all the way. The North Korean waitress was quite charming and threw in her English vocabulary at us. When I said “Thank you” she answered with “Yes”, a direct translation from Korean. I am normally blind when it comes to things like this, but the girl was really smiling at me a lot. I am going to take June next time and see if she will scratch her eyes out.

An amusing thing was that the Canadian with us was from Korean decent and could speak Korean, so they assumed he was our guide. They kept on referring to him in the honorific that you use for teachers, professors and doctors.

We finished the day off with a trip to the pub to try the beer. The beer had an interesting fruity taste unlike any beer I have tasted before. We also bought bottles of North Korean soju as souvenirs. I forgot to take a photo of it to add to the slide show. Bummer.

At about nine o’clock, we caught a bus back to the hotel. After a full day of climbing and walking, the bed was a welcome sight. I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


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