Part 1: Building An Asian Experience Around A(nother) Mistake Fare
Part 2: First Stop – Japan
Part 3: Off To The Chaos of China and North Korea
Part 4: Air Koryo Flight 252, PEK – FNJ
Part 5: DPRK The Arrival
Part 6: Statues And Souvenirs
Part 7: Homeward Bound
Part 8: Xi’an and Terra Cotta Warriors
Part 9: Myanmar, Land Of A Thousand Pagodas
After an uneventful trip through customs, we were greeted by our government minders (Miss Pang and Mr. Lim) and loaded on to buses. Though each of us was hesitant to start snapping photos, we were told we could take any shots we wanted from the bus.
First stop Kim Il-sung Square where we found none of the tanks and military demonstrations being depicted non stop on the news. Just a lot of adorable N. Korean children on their roller blades. We were then taken to the hotel where we dropped our things and had dinner served at one of the hotel restaurants.
Yanggakdo hotel is definitely a tourist hotel. With its isolated location and 1980’s era decor, it immediately feels creepy. Rooms are clean, yet clearly haven’t been updated since the day the doors opened for business. Hallways are dark, elevators slow and creaky, and you just can’t shake the feeling that you are constantly being watched. There is a bar, a swimming pool, spa, casino and several restaurants. Most of us stayed up late the first night, drinking tea and beer in the lobby bar. Everything transacts in euros, dollars or RMB and it’s expensive. Though it appeared we were the only ones in the 47 story building, so nothing was very lively. There was a functioning TV in the room which surprisingly had access to BBC news. There is nothing more surreal than watching constant news stories reporting threats of nuclear Armageddon toward your country coming from the place you are standing in.
We had a jam packed schedule the next day, so I went back up the creeky elevator, to my creepy room, and fell asleep to the continuing 24 hour news coverage of the forthcoming nuclear armageddon. I slept like a baby.