Sunday, August 30, 2009

DMZ Tour, Gyeongbokgung, National Palace Museum of Korea and Food Galore!

Day 2 in Seoul! After arriving almost midnight time at our accomodation the previous night and then we still had to eat dinner afterwards, our group slept very late last night. Still, that didn't stop us from waking up early the next day to do our rounds in the city.

We headed to Lotte Hotel, which is the starting point of our tour that morning.

What else are we doing this morning? It's the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Tour! We joined a coach tour (KRW48000 each) for the trip that will take us outside Seoul, to the border between North Korea and South Korea. In respect to both countries, tourists are advised and discouraged from wearing worn or faded clothes, sleeveless shirts, miniskirts, casual sandals, etc. If you plan to go to DMZ, better check with tour agents for restrictions prior to booking or buying tickets.

nearby the border

The group had a brief stop in Imjingak park where we transferred to a bus that took us to the DMZ. The DMZ is supposed to be a buffer zone between North and South Korea but apparently, there are four tunnels discovered by South Korea that North Korea has dugged up, believed to be part of their invasion plan.

We went inside the Third Tunnel (or the Third North Korean Infiltration Tunnel) but unfortunately, cameras are not allowed inside. It is around 1.6km long nd 150 meters below the ground. We rode a sloped access shaft going down and walked our way going up. We went around outside the tunnel after the visit.


me, Patrick O., Julie and Patrick M.

There's also a small museum outside the tunnel that houses some relics and historical artifacts.

inside the museum

police statues

Our next stop was at the Dora Observatory. Located at the top of Dorasan, the observatory is a good viewing point to see the buffer zone. Strict rules in taking pictures are implemented however.


See the yellow line? That's up to where someone can take pictures. You can flex and do whatever you can in taking pictures as long as you and your equipment doesn't go beyond this line. That explains why Patrick M. and another guy is standing behind the said line.

Very much intrigued as to what I can see across, I took pictures, legally that is, behind the yellow line. You can see the flag of North Korea and some building structures here.

binoculars available for viewing the other side

The group then went to Dorasan Station, a station of a railroad that connects North Korea and South Korea. There was a weekly train carrying goods that passes by the railroad here but it was stopped almost 2 years ago. Today, the station is open mostly just for toursim purposes.

gates for train to Pyeongyang, North Korea

The group then went back to Imjingak to wait for our shuttle back to the city. An old train facing a railroad that once connected North and South Korea is on display.

letters of dedications

Freedom Bridge. This bridge is the link between North Korea and South Korea that crosses Imjin river. On the far end (right side) is North Korea. This bridge was used by soldiers, especially prisoners of war returning to South Korea.

We then went for the food stalls nearby and was intrigued by the food being served by a stall. Aside from the squid, I cannot seem to recognize what the others were.

It was past lunch time when we arrived back at the Lotte Hotel. We walked around looking for a place to eat and arrived at this strip where lots of restaurants are situated.

One restaurant displayed English menu so we went inside for lunch.

inside the restaurant

condiments and sidings

my dried fish lunch

It was a good meal for me although for others, they seem to ordered hot and spicy items. We were all hungry by then and since we are still having a bit of a hard time ordering food, there's nothing else we can do.

Walking towards the train, we passed by an area with fountains just beside the being reconstructed city hall of Seoul.

Our next destination is Gyeongbokgung, or Gyeongbok Palace accessible via train of the same name (line 3). It is one of the most popular attractions in the city and the main and biggest palace around.

We witnessed the changing of the palace guard as we enter the premises. At first we thought some of them were fake mannequins standing there but to our surprise when we were taking pictures, some of them suddenly moved.

palace guard

admission ticket (KRW3000)


me inside the palace grounds

beautiful and colorful structures inside the palace

palace grounds

one of the palace structures with mountains at the background


inside the palace

photo opp! Patrick M., me, Julie and Patrick O.

colorful ceiling designs

Royal Banquet Hall (Gyeonghoeru)

Julie and Patrick M. were lucky to be the last guests to wear traditional Korean clothes that day. Me and Patrick O. was so envy but hey, at least we can take pictures of them!

Round 1...


As we exit the palace, we went inside the nearby National Palace Museum of Korea.

inside marker

The museum contains relics from the Joseon Dynasty. Lots of artifacts I should say that we weren't able to see them all as we don't have much time.

bowls and plates


room furnitures


Later that night, we fancy trying the local street food near our hotel. So we chose one stall that seems to be friendly to us and decided to eat there.

Soju! We see a lot of these in Korean novelas we watch back in the Philippines, especially on scenes where someone is problematic and wants to wash his problems away!


waiting for food, getting hungry!

For dinner, we pointed different items, while the lady tried her best to give us English explanation and here are the things that we ended up eating.



stir-fried spicy pork

They were all tasty and satisfying. A bit expensive for street food though but I guess what we ordered, especially the eel were a bit pricey.

It was just our second day and yet we have done loads of things already. There's still a lot in store for us for the next couple of days and that's what I'll be writing on my next few blog posts.