The second part of our journey was more beyond boarders than the first part. As you will see later, it was also meant in a metaphorical way.
So on Wednesday evening, Josine joined the gang and we had quite the program ready. Well, actually Dan and Jinhee did, we would not have found half of the places in double the time. Anyhow, Thursday morning Josine, Maggie and I went to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where we got a tour and another lesson on history. The troops settled 1953 around the 38th parallel (Breitengrad), where North and South Korea are still divided today. In between the two countries, there is a strip of 4km high and 241km wide which is demilitarized and therefore untouched. Beautiful fauna by the way. Anyhow, in the middle of this DMZ there is the JSA (Joint Security Area) where they try to enable talks between the two countries. That’s also where we set foot on the ground of North Korea. So the entire day was filled with impressions of the tense relationship of the Korean countries starting from the JSA visit all the way to the abandoned train station, which has tracks going to Pyongyang. In the evening, we went back to Seoul (60km) and enjoyed a Baseball game, which had a number of cultural differences to the US version. The chanting, singing and cheering will stick forever!
Friday was an early morning, as we headed South with a high speed train. We landed in Gyeongju, a beautiful city about 2 hours from Seoul. Right when we arrived, we were picked up by a tour bus which gave us a compact tour of the area. Thanks to warm and sunny weather, we were also able to take some nice pictures. The greenery reminded me strongly of the Napa Valley, only the wineries were missing. We visited temples, tombs, and statues all over the Gyeongju area. In the evening, we camped at a local site, which was very comfortable type of camping. The wifi, big tents with power plugs and the BBQ right in front of your place, surely made it one comfy place to stay.
Saturday was the last full day together, so we made our way down to Busan, where we enjoyed the beach in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, we headed to the fish market. At one of the stands, three fish were selected for our supper. One fish was going to become Sashimi and the other two were just fried and prepared for us. Shortly after, we got everything served. Not sure when I ate that much fish last time, but it was absolutely phenomenal. No fish smell, pure goodness. Around seven, we made our way back to Seoul, where we got a few hours of sleep, before we headed back to Singapore.
This week in South Korea has been extraordinary. Not only because of the peerless organization of Daniel and Jinhee (including the uncountable times of ordering for us), but also because of the luxury of being able to spend a week together. The “journey beyond boarders” did not only entail the journey to South Korea or putting a foot on North Korean ground. The siblings of Maggie are far away from Switzerland and Singapore. Therefore, spending time together has given us the opportunity to push back the boarders of “in-law hood”, which is usually limited to annual visit at Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday. To sum it up, it has been one amazing trip and I am in for another visit, wherever it might be. Thank you!