Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Imperial Palaces and Harbin

Well I visited the old Manchurian Imperial palace in Shengyang. The one they built before they went on to conquer Beijing. It is a world heritage site and was well set up. The entry fee was the highest i have had to pay yet. Inside they had some interesting army exhibitions from the period and all of the king and his queens chambers were decorated as they were supposed to have been in the early Qing dynasty (17th century).

I also found a few other treasures and will up load the images when I can find a computer with a working USB port.

Today I travelled by bus to Harbin. It took about 7.5 hours. We had for a while a bus half full of boxes and i had my backpack on the seat beside me. Halfway into the trip they dropped off the boxes. The road was almost like Australia. 4 lane divided motorway, and mostly rural. Until we got close to Harbin, the vegetation was dry and the country side straw yellow.

I am staying in a posh 3 star hotel which is heated like a sauna. I suppose this makes up for the external temperature and tomorrow I think I will use my thermals. Though it has warmed up and the -7 degrees min from a week ago is only -1 for the next few days. I also booked my train ticket on the overnight train to Beijing. I did the whole transaction in Chinese and I am very pleased with myself at the moment.

So it is off into the dark again so I can get some dinner. I think I will try the USA beef noodle California chain. It has at least three places around the square in front of the train station.

Throne Hall

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well it seems I was a bit presumptive about the hotel charges at Dalian. The extra money was the deposit and I got it back when I checked out. So when I checked into my hotel here in Shengyang, I was prepared and even was able to use the correct word for deposit.

The bus trip took about 4 hours. There was an accident and all the traffic was stopped, but it started moving again about 5 minutes after we joined the queue. I do not know the cause.

I am staying in an older hotel. To get in I have to walk through two rooms of a restaurant and then go up to reception on the eighth floor. The room numbers seem to occur at random, and perhaps they are all auspicious numbers.

I found a fast food chain next to McDonald's that at first looks like it has Japanese food. But my beef rice bowl also included kimchi as a side dish. It was one of the best meals I have had in days.

Today I am off to the old imperial palace and some pagodas. I have booked my ticket on the 8:20 am bus to Harbin tomorrow.

I cannot load any photos as this computer does not have a USB port.

A money shaped building

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dalian - day two

Well it is day two in China. I have to say, I am impressed by how much the country has progressed. But the change continues at a pace that is just so fast.

I started out wandering up to the Russian part of the city.On the way there was percussion band playing. So I stopped to take some photos. (Which should be uploaded soon to flickr.com). See the photo link on the right side bar. As I was the only westerner there and I was enjoying the performance, after they asked me up. The woman on the drum played a piece, and then I repeated it. I was able to keep up for about 5 ever increasing difficulty pieces, before I could no longer repeat the rhythm on the fly. They seemed to be impressed and there were smiles all round.

The Russian part of the city is small. But very Russian, there were many traders with quality Russian goods. Wandering back by the intercity bus terminal, to check out the buses for tomorrow, I found the Tourist Information Centre. All I can say, is that they cannot get many tourists. They were very helpful. At first I used the computer as it had descriptions in English. They called over a nice woman who spoke English. She had to make some calls to find out the location of one of the museums listed on the computer. The other places, well one street I found myself on the map and they were able to help with the location of the main museum. Emboldened, I decided to head down to the coast on a local bus. At first I was looking for the 60 bus, but it turned out that I needed the 16 bus. The gallery is an excellent affair. It focuses, as the Chinese do, on technological and economic development but also had a fair amount on sport and some local clothing from the minorities.

I then wandered down to the shore front some 10 minutes walk. The architecture was very surprising, and it even had a full size Italianate castle, not dissimilar to some in Russia. Back in the centre of town, the Nanshan lu, a Japanese era street was a disappointing.

castle on the hill

Friday, October 27, 2006


I hope this works as I do not seem to be able to access my home page or blog from here in the internet cafe. So I am sending this from my email.

I caught the ferry from Incheon. Using the subway was easy, but slow and then I got a cab. The ferry time changes about three times, but in the end, we were on our way. I shared my cabin with an elderly jesuit bible teacher from Usan. (which caused endless confusion with me and others to Busan.) He was a nice person and helped me get dinner and breakfast. We also spent some time, engaging in the pastime (as did many others) of feedint the seagulls as we left by throwing chips into the air. The sea gulls mostly were able to pick them out mid air.

The boat trip was uneventful. The seas about as calm as they could be. We did have some delays when we arived at the port and it took about 30 minutes longer than expected.

At the terminal, I was looking for the number 13 bus stop to travel to the railway station. There were some locals who showed me the way.

I then came into town. I accepted a local's offer for accomodation, (these people always hang out in front of train stations). It was for 150 Y per night. But as it was it turns out that as I am a foreigner I had to pay 250. This is not unexpected for the room and was still 30 yuan off the list price. The room is on the 37th floor and I have to use 2 lifts to get there.

I then headed to the local park. Here I met a man from Baulkam Hills and his Chinese wife. They married in Australia, but are living here for 5 years. I went to the top of the lookout on the near by hill and then wandered back down here for the intenet cafe. I knew there were cafe's near by, but again some locals voulentered to show me the way to one and ordered it for me. The price is high (as it is quite nice) at 2 Y per hour. The normal rate I am told is 1 Y per hour.

Anyway I need to return to get some sleep.

modern architecture

Thursday, October 26, 2006

in preperation for being cold

Well I have just looked at the weather forecast:

Dalian: 7 to 18
Shnngyang: 0 to 15
Harbin: -3 to 10

So I have packed the gloves and thermals at the top of the bag.

photos from seoul


I have also updated the map.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chuncheon and back to Seoul

Well I escaped the storms on the East Coast. There were pictures on the TV this morning of workers repairing the rail link I had traveled on the day before as the sea tried to claim it for itself.

By morning the rain had stopped, though it seemed to still be raining to the south. I did the half hour walk to the intercity bus terminal, past the remaining sand bags to stop yesterdays flooding and did the three hour trip to Chuncheon. For the first time, I felt like I was back in a western country. The clothes are much more informal and the city very new.

The place I was planning on staying was being renovated, so with my new confidence in working in Korean, I simply chose another near by. It was a good choice.

I wandered off to find some lunch, which failed, and to see the lake. I did the latter and visited one of the Islands in the middle of the lake. Before I got there, there was an interesting historical display in a glass pyramid. They had lots of photos, taken some 40-50 years ago, along side a photo from the same spot taken in the last 5 years. On the way back I stopped off at the Tourist Office to use the free internet and they gave me a free cup of coffee to boot. After this I returned to my Hotel room. On the way I purchased some dinner. An amazing thing happened, I started reading the Korean as syllables. It is so much easier. I did not find the meal I was looking for (out of the local town map) but instead settled for my first dish of Bib Bim Bab. It was a good vegetarian affair.

That was yesterday. Today, I caught the bus to Seoul. I had been trying in vain to contact the people at work as we had a bit of a mix up (caused by me) about the day. I visited the Museum of History (very good), the palace behind, and the Museum of Modern Art. All amounted to time very well spent. Returning to the Tea Guest House, I sill had no contact from my work colleagues. So I went down to Insadong to try and call them on the phone as my mobile seems unable to make phone calls. After a while I was able to track down a phone that would accept coins rather than a card and made the call and thus made contact. I had a modern Korean meal and we had a milky white Korean rice wine called long life. It was an excellent evening. We had a seafood pancake, the others had oyster filled pickletty things, bean-curd and some kind of bean patties, of course kimchi and the yellow pickle stuff that I have quite a liking for.

next batch of photos....

of storms and mountian scenery.

ferry terminal

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Well the showers clearing forecast should have read, wild seas, strong winds, flooding, snow, flying iron and no taxis.

I was trying to sit out the storm in my hotel room on Jeongdongjin, when at about 10AM the power went out. I was impressed that the reclosing circuit breakers were able to have 4 goes and we had power a second time for about 5 minutes before it completely went. I though it would be dull, and was worried as the trains are electric. But they closed the hotel and kicked me out into the downpour. So I caught the train to Gangneung as was my original plan, but i caught the 10:30 train instead of the 12:00 train.

However, by the time I had arrived at Gangneung, the storm had worsened, and by the time it was my turn to get a cab in the queue, about 11:30, the cabs had given up. This morning, looking for the PC Bung, I saw that many houses still had sandbags out the front. After a few hours in the station, I decided that it was no use. The girls at the Tourist Office had recommended that I walk to the intercity bus terminal, only 30 minutes. But I was soaked running the 10 meters to their office and they had to let me inside to keep me from drowning. On a second visit they recommended a good cheap hotel. This is the largest town on this part of the coast, so I felt relatively safe here.

Watching the news, it seems I made the correct decision. Seroksan, where I planned to go today, had 15 cm of snow yesterday and there were pictures of very soggy sightseers. So I will travel to a different part of the mountains today. Other pictures on the TV showed flooding all along this coast and washed out roads.

At least today it has decreased to the occasional rain shower. The forecast is for 20 to 60 mm of rain on top of the 200-300 mm that fell yesterday. And still they said "showers clearing in AM". :-( The storm came out of the north pole.

I will walk the thirty minutes to the bus terminal, if it is not raining.

The USB ports on this computer do not seem to work, so I will upload the photos another time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

more photos

photos from danyang to joengdongjin.

Sailing ship on the hill

rain, rain go away

Well I am in Jeongdongjin. I came here to see a North Korean Minisub (tomorrow).

I started out the day catching the train from Danyang to Jechon. There I had to wait an hour and a half for the slowest train in Korea (according to Brian). In the mean time I met a primary school teacher from Danyang who was heading somewhere else to visit a museum for the day. The train journey to my current location was slow (4 hours) but very scenic. Though the hill sides full of half dead trees from the drought did not help. When I got here I checked into my hotel. I took a korean style room, which seems to mean a round bed instead of a rectangular bed. It is 25,000 rather than 35,000 won, so it is cheaper to boot.
I visited the crusing ship and a sail ship, such as I loaded a photo of on a previous day up on the near by hill. This seems to be a relaitvely common occurnace in Korea. You will have to look at the photos to see what I mean. While I was there, the forecast ligth rain in the afternoon arrived, and by the time I had walked for twenty minuted to return to my room, I was a little wet, even with my rain coat. The light rain had beome rain. All the people on the beach on the way out had left and the sand sculpture man had removed his sculptures.
So I have had dinner and been watching muythbusters in my comfy bed, before coming down to this PC bang.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

more photos.

from Gyeongju and Danyang.


DanYang of music, fans, temples, caves and processions.

Well I am in my first PC Bang. It is like a smokey bar filled with computers and of course lots of people playing games. I left Geyongju on the train and changed to the high speed line to get to Danyang. As is becoming common in Korea, the place I am staying at has a stage being built out side. In fact as I was having my afternoon shower, there was Korean music from out side. A parade was passing by with the Sallia king and queen and their followers. But the first nights festivities were held down river at the main ampitheter. So I had a very unexpected and interesting night as the Apple Festival started, listening to three of Korea's top pop stars. I will have lots to upload when I get the chance. The school children there (teenagers) befriended me and their teacher seemed pleasedwhen he came up to me after the show.

Today I travelled to the Guinsa temple by bus as it was highly recommended by the Melbournians I met last week. It was quit a climb and I climbed to the top of the moutain behinds, which acording to the GPS is 750 meters in altitude. I then stayed for my first buddhist lunch. They saw that I was a foreigner and arranged for a local who spoke english to have lunch with me. We had a short but interesting conversation.
Catching the bus back to Danyang I went the cave system only 500 meters from town. It is a very touristy affair and you just walk though yourself. I never needed to crawl, but I had to crouch down some times. In here I met three western girls from a near by town who are here for the day to visit the cave. I spent a hour or so with them back in town at the Apple festival and was mobbed again by my fans. They have called me Gandalf. I am pleased. :-)
Now I am in the internet bang. I do not know how much longer the music on the stage outside my window will continue.

Friday, October 20, 2006

gyeongju photos

The first batch of photos from Gyeongju.

children and statue

rain and temples

The endless clam, mostly windless days continue. The forcast of rain for today appears to have changed to a forcast of rain on Sunday and Monday. They need the rain here. In July they had three times their monthly rain fall, since then they had only had 5 mm in Seoul.

I started by wandering around the burrial mounds in the park outside where I am staying. I then went to the stone pagoda, destroyed by the Japanese in 1915 and then rebuilt to a different size. There was a onld temple site south of this with only the foundations showing. It was the first place here that had not been destroyed by the Japanese in the 1500's. It was destroyed by the Mongolians in the 1200's.

Near lunch time I was at the four sided buddha image stone to the north of the city. After that I had lunch and booked my seat for today and visited the bank. So all in all a very quiet day. Only the temple site had school children and the rest was just local worshipers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Well here are the photos from Busan, so I am only three days behind now. I do not know if I will be able to load the GyeongJu photos before I leave.


buguksa and seokgulan

I caught the number 11 bus to buguksa temple. It was a little adventure as I took a wrong turn near the start and it took about 10 minutes to work out where I had gone wrong. The map I am using is also a bit misleading at times, the roads do not match up as well as they could to reality. So this was my first city bus trip, previously I had been in cities where I was using the subway. The french people on the bus explained how to use the machine to pay.

The two places, buguksa temple and seokgulan grotto are unesco world heritage listed. The temple was a large affair and for the first time in Korea I came across a buddist temple that did not allow photos inside the temples themselves. This is the norm elsewhere in the world. There were plenty of monks praying and the usualy millions of school children. I met a sporting group of Koreans from Parramatta with Australia written on the backs of thier blasers and for the first time I became a rock star. I had to sign about 20 autograph books. A most unexpected experience.

I caught the bus up to Seokgulan grotto. It is a small monumnet, but is missing the bus loads of children. It is architectureally very interesting and the buddha is supposedely the best in Korea, though I am no expert.

I then travelled down to Bomun Lake. Here I watched a free dancing display from the ancient sillia kingdom that went for an hour. At first there were only five of us wathig about 10 dancers, but by the second act the crowd had swelled to about 30. The I returned back to the guest house and had dinner with three people from California.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The web site is too cleaver by half. It thinks that as I am in Korea, I need to have all the web site text in Korean. I think this happend as I changed the time zone to Korea. I will try changing it to Adelaide, which I suppose is only half an hour out.

I traveled by train yesterday to Geoyngju. Though it is only an hour an a half by bus dow the freeway, it is three hours by train and I have to change trains at Dongdaegu.

The city is a very plesant place to stay and almost every one here has been extending their stays. I will not as I now also have a temple to visit in DangYang, my next stop, and I am running out of time. I should have stayed one less day in Busan. Yesterday I visited the National Gallery and some 1000 year old mound tombs. This place is full of interestign history and the gallery was excellent. Much better than the others I have been to so far. I should be able to upload my photos from this computer, so I will try later today.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Busan 2006-10-16

Well today was a day that did not go to plan in a good way. I started off in the morning heading off up the hill to Democracy Park. On the way I had a rice triangle and some orange juice. It took a while to work out that the paths straight up the hill on the map were stairs and not roads. The park itself is simple yet very impressive. I then wandered further up the hill to Gongbusan mountain. It proved to be a lot higher than I though and I probably would not have made it to the top if it had not been for the assistance of a local walker. (Mr Lee). Unfortunately the fog was such that the view was really not worth the effort.

Mr Lee decided to be my tour guide as he was between jobs, and drove me out to Taejongdae, a place that is quite difficult to reach if you do not have a car. The scenery along this part of the coast was very beautiful, but it turns out I have been having a bad photo day. I have been using an odd series of settings, including having the ISO set to 1000. So most of the photos are very grainy. I think I set the camera to 1000 ISO when inside the monument at democracy park. Mr Lee helped me very significantly with my Korean. (Hanmingguk)

In the early afternoon we headed off to the fish market and I bought him lunch. We had a traditional Korean lunch, which was full of very unusual food stuffs and a liquor that was over 20% proof. I made a video, and will have to describe this meal later. Only to say at least 30%, including the vegetables, was things I had never eaten before. He said that because I was from Hoju (Australia) the woman there gave us much more than we would normally get. We did not finish all the food.

In the afternoon we went to Yogdusan Park to go up in the tower. We actually got a better view of Busan from down low in this 120 meter tower as we were closer to the city. We then went to the Daegaksa temple before I returned to my hotel. I have decided it is better to spend the later afternoon at the hotel as it is so hot. I can have a shower and then head out in the evening. I watched some more silly chinese gungfu TV soaps and Armor of god II with Korean subtitles and then headed out for dinner. I did not head down-town as was my plan because the sheer distance I had walked through the day was so great.

I had dinner at a korean place near where I am staying. Again they spent some time showing me the proper way to eat the food. It was enough for two or three people, so now I am not only tired I have eaten too much. I suspect that whenever I order traditional food, the servings suddenly double.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Well I should be able to use the keyboard to type korean, but I cannot se the button to change the keyboard. I am in Pusan Station, I am staying out the front. I have a speel from yesterday, but I cannot plug in my USB drive into this computer so I will send it later.

It is the Busan International Film Festival. The movie I wanted to see I missed beause I got the 24 hour time clock wrong and was out by two hours and the subway ticket office is closed and I had no change for the machines. So I may see a movie tomorrow, but there are not any that I really want to see.

Today I went for a walk in a remote part of the city, but also where the center of the film festival is located. An old man, well over 50, who has travelled the world and is partly paralysed on the right side, talked to me while I was resting on the walk. The area is quite nice and I sepent some time in the fish markets and at the beach.

As I missed the movie, I will stay here at the station. They have a big screen and a stage and will have some live music later, if it is like last night. I must say that the place is buzzing.

I will not be able to load any photos for now, though I am processing them. So I will have a batch for when I find better access. I have kept my eyes open for an Internet Bung, but I have not actually seen one yet. But then I have not really seriously searched for one.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Busan 2006-10-14

I traveled down on to Busan on the KTX. My ticket is not supposed to include the KTX, so I presume that the other, slower, trains at the time, were suddenly full. :-) The train takes about 3 hours and reached a top speed of 297 km/h. I went onto sports mode to take the photos out of the window. This mode also takes photos in continuous mode, which is good as it is impossible to tell if there will be a pole for the overhead wires in the photo. When taking two photos there is a good chance that one will not have a pole.

In Busan, I was a little worried. I knew there was going to be the international film festival, and had met a few americans who were on the train before mine, at Seoul station, who were going to the festival. I was worried because I had not booked ahead. It turned out not to be a problem. At Busan I walked straight out of the station, into the place I planned on staying and got a room right away. It is a simple and acceptable hotel room.

I then wandered china town, or shanghai street, as they called it. It was a little disappointing. They said to come back in the evening. But I made Saturday my rest day, watched a chinese movie on TV with Korean subtitles. It was an imperial era movie about some people with supernatural powers. It was quite good, though somewhat silly and humorous.

I was still exhausted from yesterday's mountain climbing experience and spent the rest of the evening in my hotel room. Outside, in the train station, they had a stage set up and for the evening I listened to a very good DJ and live band play what I will call Korean Rock Pop on the grounds that I have no idea what to call it. I do not think it was K-pop. (kind of like j-pop but with a k).

Busan is a surprise. English is actually much more common here and in many ways it is much more an international city. When the signs are not in Korean and English they are often in Japanese. There are less chinese signs here, though I did come across a sign not 100 meters from where I was staying that was only in Russian. There is a little Russian around. The city has a hard edge to it that was not evident in Seoul.

Packed and ready to go

Well I a mostly packed (not including the computer of course) and ready to go. I will have breakfast here and then head off. I do not know how good my internet access will be from now on, though I am returning to this place for my last night in Korea. So I may be posting tonight and I may not.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Restful evening - watching 50 channels of TV

Well I turned on the TV for the first time - only 50 channels. At lunch today I came across a studio, with a live audience which at one stage included me. It was a strategy game contest where the contest is beamed live on TV. So this evening I watched a contest on TV. Though I do not know Korean, I know from the commentators that timing is everything. I am not sure, as I did not time it, but the game was over in less than half an hour.

Not a rest day

I was planning on taking it easy today. But it did not work out that way. I started off very productively at Seoul Station, exchanging my voucher for a ticket. So that little saga is over. I then headed off to the expensive part of town to do some geocaching. I found one and not the other. One was located in the Buddhist temple, which was an active temple. I saw for the first time the general public praying in a temple ceremony, though I only discretely looked in through the door.

After lunch in a Korean Food Hall, I headed off to a shamanist shrine. It said it was a long climb, but that was only half the story. They were tearing out part of the hill to build new apartments. The locals and latter builders gladly pointed out that I needed to walk directly through the middle of the construction site, with no care for safety or concern at my taking a wrong turn. They just sent me back through the construction site. Half way up there is a Buddhist temple and further up the shamanist shrines. At the top I changed my plan and walked even further by walking down beside the old Seoul city wall back to where I am staying rather than the short but steep walk to the subway stop. I am exhausted.

traversing the construction zone
There are 4 more images, follow this one to see the others.

I am booked on the 10:10 train to Busan.

Korea Travel Plan

Well I have been going through the guide book and on line information for KR and decided that, though Christina recommended places on the west coast I will travel only on the east coast. This is because of the trains, distances and the fact that I want to get to Seoraksan. So the most compact tour seems to be:

14-16 Busan
17-19 GyeongJu
20-22 DanYang
23-24 Sokcho
25 Seoul

Of course subject to change.

Money in China

Had a little panic attack about getting money in China, because I really had not looked seriously into this. It turns out not to be a problem. There are over 40 ATMs in DaLian I can use, but strangely none in Harbin. But that is OK, it is DaLian where I first arrive. I suppose it helps that DaLian is supposed to be the HK of the north.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gyeongbokgung, National Folk Museum and Work

This morning a strange thing happened, some Americans looking for a public bath house wandered in, of course this is not a public bath house. I latter met up with them on the English language tour at Gyeongbokgung Palace and they admitted that it turned out to be across the street from where they are staying.

On the learning Korean front, I now no longer see really long words in Korean as a hopless jumble of letters, and if there is Korean and English together I can work out where the syllables start and end by working out the Korean.

I went after a lazy start to the morning to Gyeongbokgung Palace and caught up with the English tour that had started 10 minutes before. We spend the whole morning walking at a fair pace through the palace. I think it is a little like the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. As it is only buildings it is not as interesting as if it were full of people. However we did have bus loads of primary school kids who just loved to say hello. I have learned how to say hello in Korean - An-nyong ha-se-yo. I have set me self some exercises to increase the speed of learning. One special part of the tour was we were able to visit the archaeological dig site, which is normally only open to Korean Tours.

After this I visited the National Folk Museum. It is a small but well set up establishment. This man who turned out to be from DaLian, wanted to travel around the museum with me. However, after a while I was able to get him to pester some other person.

Having had enough of the historical monuments, I decided to head into work, which I had been planning to do tomorrow. When I looked at the address, I thought, wait a minute, I know where that is! It turns out it is quite close to where I am staying and I had already walked past about three times. So I had an expensive lunch (note to self: remember to check the prices), I headed off to work. It was easy to find, and the staff there were very friendly. They gave me some advice on places to visit and invited me out to dinner when I return. They also gave me the pronunciation of my Chinese name (yewenyi) in Korean so 葉文意 becomes - 엽문의or Yup moon eui. I am harping on, but Yap is actually pronounced Yup in Hokkien and this continues the strangeness that the Sino-Korean used here seems to at times have more in common with Hokkien and Cantonese than Mandarin.

After this I wandered the commercial markets on the way to the Eastern Great Gate (DongDaeMun).

Click here for the photos. (I am being tired and lazy.)

DMZ update

Reading the paper this morning over breakfast, it seems that:
  1. The Koreans suspect that the nuclear test was a fake.
  2. The North Koreans demanded yesterday's meeting, and it was to do with a drowned North Korean Soldier who was washed down stream into South Korea and they want him back.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Today I traveled to the DMZ. To start I met the new occupants of the guest house who arrived later last night and are from New York. They are nice people. I wandered down to Anguk station and hopped onto the subway to DongGuk station. (In mandarin this would be Dung Guo so quite similar.) I wandered off to take photos of the park in front of the university while waiting for the tour to start. We got off to a bad start. There was probably an accident on the road and the delay meant that we had to skip the first park. Our guide was from the Korean Veterans Association. We headed on to lunch, Bulgogi, a simple Korean fare of fried beef (fried on the table) and various side dishes. Simple and good.

We then headed into the DMZ. First we visited a park on the South Korean side. Here we saw the rail bridge and remains of the previous bridge across the river. I suppose the previous bridge was destroyed in the war. We then crossed over the bridge, littered with what I presume were anti-tank devices, such that driving in a straight line was not possible, and off into Camp Bonifas. Here we saw a slide show and then headed off in to the JSA. There was actually a meeting taking place between the two sides, so we could not enter the room. However we got to see the guards from both sides in place, which is something not normally seen. We guessed that they were discussing a certain nuclear bomb test in the last few days. Here we were able to see into North Korea and take photos.

Shop Window Prayers
Beef in pottery pot important people North Korea Bulgogi We passed it and I had to take a photo I'm not sure DMZ tour guide
A long way from home

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tea GuestHouse - 2

I am really happy with this accommodation. The room is small and simple, well it is supposed to be an original style guest house, complete with paper floor, wall and window coverings. However, it also comes with a power adaptor board, computer for the internet, TV and air-con, though the latter is not required at the moment. It even has wireless which I am using for this message. I am very happy and say it is one of the 5 best places I have stayed.

Tea GuestHouse

A productive day

Well I spent a productive day, after a morning of getting to know my way around, I converted my voucher for a voucher, into the voucher for a rail pass for Korea Rail. I then booked my DMZ tour. The I went down south to the Da-In ferry company and in about 5 minutes flat, purchased my ferry ticket. Seeing the name in han-ja, I saw that it means big and In is the In from Incheon. Finally I had a yummy dinner at a place suggested by the owner/managers of the guest house.

Bell tower Breakfast skyscraper

On the painful side, I have a blister on my right foot and heat rash on my legs. Last time I had blisters, (in China) I did not pop them, as you are not supposed to and they got infected. So I might pop this one.

Yummy Dinner

The owner of the place I am staying recommended a place south of here, even with my blister, I traveled down there and after about 5 minutes of hunting down little alleyways found this place. They were some what surprised. I had the Sujebi. It comes in about three pots. One for the Kimchi, one for the white vegetable. I will have to learn what it is. And one for the Sujebi. The latter was a soup of potato, mussels, seaweed, and a strange pastry substance that was just divine. I will have to be careful about not eating shell fish. (Though I can eat mussels and have done so twice yesterday.) I need a little sign in Korean. Something to arrange for today.

Atomic Tests

I see in the Joong Ang Daily, that the people to the north of here have set of their bomb. Well tomorrow I am off the the DMZ, so I hope that I do not witness personally the restarting of the war. The won has fallen in value, but I doubt that this will materially impact my financial position at the moment. Apparently the locals were never much phased by the missile tests, but they are concerned with this test. The first five pages of the paper cover the tests.

Tea GuestHouse

To start with the journey. I flew to Hong Kong, no dramas there. Picked up my luggage and emigrated into HK, like a breeze, went up stairs checked in and left again before I had used 90 minutes of my 90 day entry permission. The woman at the check in counter was concerned that I had not any ticket to leave Korea, but my explanation about the boat did the trick along with my return ticket from HK to Sydney.

river system Sunset

Again, no dramas at Korea. I arrived at the guest house at 8 AM to drop off the luggage. Then spent the day wandering around Seoul, I will do the photos and rest of the story when I return. It has been a very productive, and somewhat physically painful day. The computer is working in Korean, so I will check the spelling when I return from dinner and connect my own laptop the this places wireless network. I love the place that I am staying, but more on that later.

Wiaiting for the bus from a byegone age...

Watch the video

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sydney Airport

I  have passed through customes and I am at a free internet both.

The emails from my phone are not working. I do not know why.

When I checked in my luggage they weighed my carry on bag. It was 10.6 kg. The limit is 6, but it seems thet does not include the lap top. So I should be right.

I thried to buy some won, but they charge $7 and did not have any cash anyway. So I will change the money at the other end. Perhaps I should have done this in times past.

Leaving on a jet plane

Well all is ready and I am more prepared than ever. The only thing I seem to have forgotten is the travelers cheques. So off to the bank this morning and then on the slightly-less-than-an-hour train trip from the station to the airport. Had a scare this morning, uploaded OS 10.4.8 and the screen went blank while I was not watching. So I did not see any message. But pressing the return button seemed to do the trick and all is happy again.

In hitchhikers guide they say an experienced traveller is one who knows where his towl is, but I think it is more likely it is one who remembered the toilet paper. Of course, I also have a towl.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The day before

Well the picnic did not happen, instead a yummy lunch in Palm Beach, followed by a ferry jaunt across to Ettalong Beach. The trip over was a little rough and the camera got splashed with water from a wave, though we were on the lee side of the top deck. Had an icecream in Ettalong. On the ferry trip back there was the most unusual incident. The waves were very high. We were siting inside the sealed compartment behind the captain. A wave filled the whole field of view and before I knew it, I was hit in the face by a wall of salt water. I was astonished and looked up to see which of the windows was broken. None of them were broken and they were all shut. The ones that do open must have opened enough to let in the water. The captain and first mate wiped the salt water off the control panel and we continued back to Palm Beach. The children in the row behing were terrified. It was like one of those magician acts. No opening and lots of water. The ferry is the one below. So when we returned, we stopped to have a coffee to dry off and then did a cache before returning.

The ferry:
Ferry Stop

Saturday, October 07, 2006

return of the condor heroes

Well I had a big day, but to start, many years ago, while having a breakfast of pork dumplings in chung ching (重庆) and enjoying every moment of it and while listening to people complaining about how the chinese do not know how to fry eggs, I remembered a song. It was happy birthday and I wanted to cry. I do not know why I feel so sad singing this song in mandarin (普通话). A few days ago I was listening to a chinese pod lesson on happy birthday. I was not taking much notice as I was driving into the car park at work. When they said happy birthday, it was like a switch again switched on. Suddenly I understood about a dozen words. It is quite interesting and something I had been hoping would happen. I do not know how many more words I know from when I was 5 years old. The upshot was today, when I was watching The Return of the Condor Heroes my comprehension had improved markedly, now I need to focus on vocabulary. In fact while before I could not handle more than three episodes in a row, we watched 5 episodes, including 1.5 on my own and I could have continued. The show has changed from being comfortingly familiar (as opposed to western shows which are normally a bit alien) to one where I am enjoying the story and plot lines. In fact I cannot wait to get back to see the rest of the story. Hopefully my vocabulary will be increased when I return.

Condor heroes
金輪法王 - the evil Tibetan monk

Friday, October 06, 2006


During the week I downloaded some geocaching data for a few caches in Seoul and Harbin. Charl kindly downloaded the data for Korea and China and converted it to VCF and GPX format. The former works well on the ipod. So now I am prepared to drop off my travel bug in Korea.

The cache in Harbin is a virtual cache. We do not seem to have these in Australia, so it will be my first.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


November is the last month of autumn, so I was a little concerned with how cold it may get, particularly in Harbin. For today the weather is:

  • Seoul - 17-26
  • Pusan - 17-22
  • BeiJing - 15-28
  • DaLian - 16-25
  • HarBin - 11-25

So it has not got really cold... yet.


Picked up my medicine for the trip this morning from the maddo the chemist in paddo. The (new) fellow there dispensing the drugs was also Malaysian Chinese, from Penang, so we had a little chat. He also gave me a Medicare declaration for these drugs so I can state that they are for personal use.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

International roaming

The costs are huge! Anyway I will take my mobile, but I will have it set up so I cannot receive calls. They will all go through to voice mail. I can listen to these on the web when I have access. I can receive SMS messages so if you need to contact me urgently send a SMS. Making calls back to Australia range from $2.50 to $4.50 per minute, so I will just use email unless it is urgent.

Mobile email is even more problematic. It ranges from $7 to $20 per megabyte. This will kill off sending messages with pictures or videos from the mobile. Only text. I will again not receive any emails on my mobile while I am away, but will use the web access. So it is better to email me on my home email (yewenyi.net) rather than my mobile email.

So to contact me while away:
  • use my normal home email address
  • if it is urgent send a SMS or both.


the new card, just for travelling arrived. :-) still no emails from the companies in Korea.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Xian the first time

When I arrived at the station a taxi driver sought me out and really really wanted me to stay in a particular hotel. I do not know it's name. I had no interest in staying in this hotel. I had already decided to stay in a place outside the wall. The man told me that I should not stay there as the showers in the place were broken. This turned out to be mostly true. I had cold showers by candle light for a few days. At the time I though I was just dealing with a pushy man. At the time it was unusual, normally I was not harangued like this.

At the place I was staying, I shared a dorm with two Swedish girls and an American. The American said he was considering staying at the hotel the cab driver was pushing. He went around to have a look, but had changed his mind and stayed at the same place I was staying.

While traveling around with this man, an American living in 台北, we would always be asked if we were Americans. I would say no. He would say yes. Then there would ensue an argument about the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Serbia. He would point out that the Chinese always threaten to bomb 台北. People would begrudge him this point. In the end it would turn out that they really were not very unhappy about the bombing and that they had a healthy skepticism about their government.

As we walked around the streets of Xian, he would talk about things, like having blue balls. One day when we got back to the hotel he told the Swedish girls that I was OK.