Monday 17th January 2005
I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, but happy New Year!!
My friend Dom came to stay with me for about 10 days, so we did some sightseeing, and last weekend we crammed in some fun and games.
On Saturday we went to Seoul racecourse, and while Cal and Dom studied the race forms and worked out the odds etc, I picked which horse I liked based purely on what colour it as and whether or not it looked happy! Amazingly I won on three races in a row (sadly I was only betting between 50p and 1.50 each race) but I managed to come out about 10 quid up by the end, so I was pretty chuffed!
Then we met up with Sarah and Penny, and went to our motel for the night. It was right in the middle of the tourist district, was really cheap and pretty good. The only thing I hadn’t figured out was the name (The Sa Rang Bang Motel), at least, not until we got there! Sa Rang means love in Korean, and bang is room, and not only was there an actual porn library on each floor, but there was a vending machine that sold dildos, cock rings and vibrators in the hallway! Personally I thought the complimentary coffee and condoms were a nice touch, as was the red light above the bed, but the giant wooden penis on the first floor landing could perhaps have been classier…
On Sunday we got up really early to go on a tour of the DMZ. There were a few minor hitches, but eventually we got on the right bus, and were on our way. Sadly, it snowed overnight and the roads hadn’t been cleared, so we couldn’t go up to the observation tower, but we went to the museum, and down into the Third Tunnel of Aggression. It’s 73 metres underground, about four foot across, and five foot high, an apparently can get 10,000 North Koreans through it in an hour. Of course all the signs pointed out carefully how it was clearly built by the north for an invasion, and it’s uncanny how the south apparently didn’t dig any tunnels at all, but I’m sure that the tour from the other side would tell a different story (ha, as if you’re allowed to tour the tunnel from the north!). We walked all the way along to the barbed wire and blocked off door where the divide to the north is, and then had an unbelievably hard walk back up again (it’s a pretty steep old slope you know!).
After that they took us to Dora station, where we got our passports stamped. It is the weirdest place – the south end of the DMZ is all ready for re-unification, they’ve built immigration and customs buildings in preparation for the reopening of the railway line, but they’e just standing empty in the middle of nowhere! The station is brand new, and is the northernmost stop you can go in south korea (you can actually get a train up there, but you can’t leave the station because its inside the DMZ). There’s even a sign for trains to Pyeongyang, but at the moment its just a deserted building with a guard on the gate to stop tourists actually trying to go in. Very weird!
I also discovered some random facts that I’m sure I really should have known already but didn’t. The most suprising to me was the discovery that the Korean war never actally ended! It was originally a ceasefire, and fifty years later they are still negotiating for peace, but technically the war is still on!
I also learnt about a horrific incident in 1976, when two American soldiers were sent to prune a tree that was blocking the view from an American checkpoint, and were brutally hacked to death by north Korean soldiers with axes, but agan, I’m sure the north Korean version of that story is quite different, so you can’t be sure how much is true.
Anyway, it was all very educational, and I now know all about the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the joint security area (JSA), and the military demarcation line (MDL), and apart from some severe hormonal attacks which poor Dom bore the brunt of, it was all good fun. (I did try to warn Dom in advance that I might be a tad moody and irrational at the weekend, but, not unlike the tsunami, the warning seemed to be too little too late!!) For some reason I’ve been suffering from epic and baffling mood swings lately. Ahh, well, psychotic women are guaranteed to make a highly volatile military situation more interesting!
Thats it for now, hope you’re all well.
tons of love