Monday, March 30, 2009

In a rather desperate attempt to fight my trichotillomania *pause* *pluck*, which isn't working, your browser window will be showered with pictures taken during an excursion to Goseong.

Antisocial Month (November) consisted of excursions to Gangwon-do, and one of those excursions was to Goseong, the northeastern-most area of South Korea. Being a peninsula, visiting any extreme of South Korea (save the north) grants one access to the Pacific Ocean. However, the destination wasn't reached without having gone through several undulations of the road, which weren't without scenic value:

Of course it had to rain on that day.

Of course the destination of the bus ride had to be about 10 miles away from the actual DMZ site. A taxi was the only choice of transportation, which eventually meant that the taxi tour was the destined means of access to the DMZ. Having had previous taxi tours at other DMZ sites , this wasn't a problem albeit it was to be an unwanted extra expense.

As mentioned, any place along South Korea's extremes (save the North) grant access to the Pacific Ocean:

Despite the fact that motion parallax makes obvious the fact that this picture was taken within the taxi, behold the Pacific Ocean. There is also a strip of beach along the Ocean's coast, but the rain and the two-degree weather served as deterrents for beach bums.

At the check-in point for tour groups, there were trees still boasting their multicolored foliage (top picture); the road to the entrance to the DMZ boasted its military presence (middle and bottom pictures):

Once inside the military checkpoint, the parking lot is reached, in front of which stands a toilet. "통일" means reunification, and "평화" has myriad significations (the most general being peace), so I think it means peace and reunification when put together...then again, 화 also is a common suffix for "-ization".

That's there not only for decorative purposes but also for the case that one need to relieve him- or herself of bodily waste before the cardio workout of ascending two steep flights of stairs:

After burning off the two calories from that day, another toilet--the "last toilet"--was difficult not to notice. There is a final toilet stop that one may make before going into the observatory. So, if one didn't bring his or her catheter...:

(a) If one were to come equipped with catheter or (b) when one is finished purging his or her body of wastes, then the following two scenes may be enjoyed:

"통일" means "unification". I know not what the bottom word is, for I am unable to make out exactly what the second set says. We behold a gesture toward unification nonetheless.

Of course it's a memorial, but of what is it a memorial? The upper inscription reads: 三五一高地戦闘戦請評, for which the direct translation via cyberspace seems impossible. Since the taxi driver lacked an English vocabulary, any translations are based on your Mercurial Girl's knowledge and intuition. Therefore, it may mean that it was the 351st highland wartime strategy site (請評=strategy? literally: request criticism).

Of course there were remnants of the--wait, ongoing--war between the two Koreas. Such remnants weren't as graphic as some of the ones in Cheorwon, and Goseong seemed to have at least a slightly larger collection, which continued for a couple of walls:

Thanks to the glare which occludes the middle of the sign, only "북한" (North Korea) and "폐" (roughly 80 trillion possible meanings) are readable. The collection is still visible, however. There was more:

Observe the liquors and elixirs to the left. Behind the collection is basically a map of one's view of North from the observatory point (on a clear day):

See? On a clear day... Obviously a more piercing view into North Korea happens on a sunny day, as is noticed by observing the map inside the indoor section of the observatory--this map identifies the mountains and lands beheld:

Now for the one or two "decent" pictures of North Korean territory:

Back on the South Korean side, Buddha and the Virgin Mary(?) are facing North Korea, perhaps strategically to debunk 김-ism and sway its adherents from the shammy, enforced "religion".

Those two figures were back downstairs, and the bag being carried contained North Korea snack food which, until a later date, had been thought only to have been sold in the DMZ. (It may be purchased in some of Seoul's supermarkets. Fail.) See the second row from the bottom:

Behold the objects of coolness back outside:

The inscription reads: "民族의碓飛" (perhaps the people's chosen flyer (fighter plane?)?)

There was another building, but everything else sufficed. It was high time to be homeSeoul-ward bound, but not without a ride along what had been imagined to be the demarcation line.

As recommended by the taxi driver, more of the DMZ à la Goseong was seen.

The space allotted calls for such a vast resizing that the DMZ sign may not even be detected.

Here is the Donghae Highway Transit Office, which controls transportation along the Donghae highway in the area:

A way to North Korea is past that toll-ish area. Desolate.

Wait, what?

This has to be one of the most awesome-reeking pictures of the collection. Sans the presence of military men from either side--and land mines (possibly)--one could IMAGINE that this was the line of demarcation.

After such a Tour of Awesome, the actual Seoul-ward bound time had come...but not without a stop at the beach. Apparently this beach is the one upon whose sand has been tread by the cast and staff of Korean dramas. Now, an American celebrity has tread upon those same grains of sand. ㅋㅋㅋ. A rather short-lived visit it was nonetheless, for it was about five degrees Celcius outside:

Notice the building in the midst of mountainous goodness.

The total cost was 50,000 won. Before the bus back to Seoul was to arrive in an hour, passport-sized photos needed to be sent to AdventureKorea to keep a reserved spot in the Kaesong (North Korea) trip that was to be taken (or not, thanks to inspissating inter-Korean tension). The photo shop was owned by two very kind spouses, whose daughters were studying in the U.S. They were extremely hospitable (the entire hour was spent talking to them--they were even so kind as to offer a place to stay for a weekend should a return trip to Goseong be taken, which would have happened had the temperature in Korea been higher than two degrees Celcius for more than just one week night at a time. The people outside of Seoul seem to be friendlier. Seriously.

No comments: