If you ask Chooch what his favorite part of the day was, he will blurt out, “BIBIMBAP” with no haste. In fact, he said this was his favorite meal of the whole entire trip.
Before the bus even left Seoul, Lee walked down the aisle and inquired if anyone had any dietary restrictions. I thought for sure that Chooch and I would be Those Weird Americans but surprisingly there were others in our group who also were vegan/vegetarian!
Everyone was so stoked when Lee said we were on our way to lunch after leaving Imjingak – our brains were getting so much fact food that day but it was time for some real food too thanks. I was happy that we didn’t have to eat in one of the chains at Imjingak. Instead, we went to this small, tradition place in the country and it was legit. We even had to take our shoes off, which is how you know a Korean restaurant is going to be good.
(This actually might not have been proven so maybe don’t go updating any Wiki pages based on this.)
Lee had called ahead with our orders (bulgogi for everyone, bibimbap for us veg-heads) so all the tables were already set with our respective foods as soon as we arrived! THAT IS THE ULTIMATE SERVICE.
The Maybe-Italian family sat with us but we didn’t talk. Henry judged them by the amount of banchan (side dishes) they left untouched (almost all of it). Meanwhile, we were swatting each other with our chopsticks in the ultimate banchan war. (And by we I do mean Henry and me – Chooch still hasn’t acquired that taste for kimchi or really most other banchan either. MORE FOR ME.)
What a delicious lunch! Our bibimbap was so fresh, probably because all of the ingredients were grown right outside the restaurant it seemed. Chooch ate it without even chewing, it was so barbaric. And then he kept saying, “OH MY GOD” after every bite, while rolling his eyes back, and it was super uncomfortable to watch.
He still talks about this bibimbap like it’s the one that got away or something.
This is a tree outside of the restaurant. I think those are dates maybe?
THE POSSIBLY-ITALIANS and Chooch, looking at chickens outside of the restaurant.
On our way to Dora Observatory after lunch, we passed so many roadside Korean melon stands — these are the best melons! Henry buys them at the Asian markets here in Pittsburgh but I can only imagine how much more delicious they are in actual Korea, ugh.
We had to walk up this incredibly steep hill to get to the observatory. This one is better than the first one we went to because you can actually see North Korea from here.
That super-tall guy up and the lady behind him are the British people from our group, and the people on the left are the American Korean kids who I desperately wanted Chooch to talk to but he refused to pander to my dreams.
Here are some pictures I took from the top! It was extremely hot and hazy that day, but that’s North Korea.
Up until last April, you could apparently hear the sounds of Kpop That South Korea had blasting from loudspeakers into North Korea, which is wild. I heard that Bigbang’s BANG BANG BANG was one of the songs that they played!
Anyway, through the binoculars, we were able to see the propaganda village that North Korea refers to as the “Peace Village” but has long thought to be a facade controlled by the NK military.
In the throes of heat stroke, here.
From the observatory, we were also able to see the South Korean flagpole and North Korean flagpole which were erected in the 80s. SK put theirs up first and NK saw this an act of aggression, so they responded by erecting an even bigger flagpole, and it’s gone down in history as the Flagpole Wars. I mean, you kind of have to laugh at the strange ways these two countries have found to pester each other.
South Korea has even launched Choco Pie-filled balloons over the border.
Here are some pictures taken with the real camera and not my phone, wow halfway to profesh travel journalist here:
This is the South Korea side, but I really liked that cloud, so.
Chooch was at odds with some white broad who said something snarky about how all the binocular things were in use and when he turned around, she was apparently glaring at him even though he had JUST STARTED looking through the view finder like a second prior to this. Then he said he felt bad because he noticed she had a big hearing aid so he thought she was deaf or hearing impaired.
But then a few minutes later, he noticed that she was an entire group of people who had the thing on their ears and then realized it was some audio tour thing so he happily went back to hating her, guilt-free.
This auditorium was so beautiful!!
After our eyeballs got their fill of North Korean landscape, we went to another gift shop and I might have thrown a small fit here because I wanted to buy a bottle of North Korean wine and Henry was being a jerk about so then I was like THEN I DON’T WANT ANY ICE CREAM EITHER because wow, I really know how to hurt him…by depriving myself of a frozen treat.
He followed me onto the bus and was like WHAT IS WRONG and I was like NOTHING and then I WANTED THAT WINE so he was like OMG I WILL GO AND GET IT so he got off the bus and bought me a bottle of North Korean wine which who knows if it was really made in North Korea but the bottle says so and I will keep it forever and show everyone who comes into my house.
We gets these all the time at the Asian markets here in Pittsburgh but they certainly taste better in Korea, obviduh.
Henry bought this juice and became obsessed with it. I think I already mentioned this in my blog post from the bus to Pocheon, but I thought it tasted like a Squeez-It, so I obviously agreed with him that yes, this was some bomb-ass nectar, boy.
And then Lee got on the bus and announced that she was informed that we would indeed be granted access to the Joint Security Area, so that is where we headed next, and I swear to god, I had big time goosebumps on the way there.
DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNNN….Final DMZ recap coming soon!