From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

South Korea Study Trip - Day 5

What a day!

We had to get out by 8:00 am.  Stupid me forgot my passport, so Michelle and I had to quickly take a taxi back to the hotel and then meet the rest of the group at the other tour bus that would take us to the DMZ.  That is 2 of the most important items that I have made bonehead moves on, so I'm batting 1000 right now.  

Only 3 tour companies are allowed to go to the DMZ, so we had to join up with a group of Japanese tourists on another bus.  They had their Japanese speaking guide, and we had our English speaking one.  On the way there, she explained a little bit about the history of the DMZ and its current state as well as the numerous rules we had to follow once we arrived:

No pointing, no standing unless told, no taking pictures unless told, keep your hands out of your pockets, walk in lines by twos, 

We were able to step foot into North Korea for about 5 minutes, take a quick picture, then be on our way.  It was very very fast and we only saw 1 North Korean soldier.  The lady kept saying,"we don't know what is going to happen.  we just listen to the military."  

Right before going into the main building and the lady hurrying us along barking directions, some of the kids seemed a little "freaked out," but they made it OK.  I remember going to the DMZ 21 years ago when I was their age and having the same feeling.  I didn't know at the time why it was such a serious situation, but I do remember not to mess up.  

I cannot possibly type (or well rather will not do it) all that was told to us while we were there.  My personal highlights include seeing the 3 defended military gates and stepping into the 1950's style little building, seeing the line that separates North and South Korea, getting our picture taken in North Korea, learning some of the stories about the place, seeing Propaganda village (from afar of course), and learning that the little rice village that is still near the DMZ has a population of only 500 but has an average income of over $80,000 US tax free.  Another interesting part was seeing the 2 flags.  SK flag has a tall flag pole but pretty standard. NK's flag is 18 by 30 METERS AND WEIGHS 600 pounds.  It towers over the SK flag by 50 meters and is supposedly the tallest flag pole in the world.

Check out the following link for more detailed information...  

After exiting the DMZ gift shop and area, we stopped at a nearby park where SK still come and face the North in hopes one day seeing their ancestors again.  Large stone sculptures always face north symbolizing this. We then went down the road to a Korean restaurant with our Japanese busmates, but we had a lunch of salad and sandwiches we had brought with us.

An hour later, our official DMZ tour was over as we transferred to our original bus which took us to the National Assembly. We were originally supposed to meet a Korean senator, but that plan probably fell through when we switched guides.  Instead, we still got a quick tour of the massive building learning a little bit about its structure, history, and little about the government of SK.  We exited and walked around the building before being picked up by our bus.  It was still early, so Michelle decided to take us to the 2002 World Cup Stadium.  In 2002, SK and Japan co-hosted the World Cup (Brazil won but SK came in 4th).  After touring the small museum at the stadium concerning the games, we saw the field where to our surprise the South Korea national team was practicing (what luck!).  They have a game tomorrow night against Qatar.  We were told not to take pictures, but I had already taken some and I forgot how to delete them :)

The kids were so excited, and it was cool to see a real practice.  They only let us stay for about 10 minutes, but it was well worth the stop.  

Dinner was at a seafood buffet where most kids had sushi, but there was a ton of other types of food.  

After arriving at the hotel, we immediately got down to business practicing our dance routine for our performance tomorrow at the Alliance Middle School.  We are being hosted by them tomorrow.  We aren't sure what to expect, but I'm sure the kids will have a great time.  After a rough start to practice, I believe the kids are ready after about 2 hours of straight practicing.  We'll see tomorrow.

Tons of great pictures today.  Not a lot of the DMZ because like I said, you weren't allowed to take that many. You can view them at the same link.  

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