Sunday, September 23, 2012

Backpacking southeast Asia

Ya I know, I really never did a good job updating this blog.  My bad, but anywho, my time in Korea is rapidly drawing to a close.  My last day teaching is this Friday, the 28th, and I fly out of Korea on October 1st.  I am truly amazed at the experience I have had here, and Korea will always be a very special place for me, along with all the people I have met.  While I'm saddened to say goodbye to my friends and the children I teach, I'm excited for the next step.  I'm going to be backpacking through Southeast Asia, and this time I'm really really really going to try to update on this blog as often as I possibly can!  No more long, lengthy posts, just quick hellos and a quick recap of whatever I'm up to at the moment I'm blogging.

I'll be with friends during the whole trip, so I'll be safe and sound always (Uncle Rich, I'm not dating any of them, and I'm not bringing any of them back home!).  At the end of the trip, I will finally be back in the USA, where I cannot wait to see all of you!

Here's a breakdown of my itinerary, which isn't necessarily set in stone.

October 1-16: Philippines, including Boracay, Palawan Island, and the rice terraces of Banaue and Batad

Oct. 16-18: Singapore

Oct. 18- November 6: Indonesia, including Bali area and Java

Nov. 6-12: Malaysia

Nov. 12-26: Thailand

Nov. 26- December 1: Laos

Dec. 1-5: Cambodia

Dec 6-18: Viet Nam

Finally, on December 19th at 630am, I will be picked up by my parents at the Detroit Airport!!! (I'm assuming this, I'm sure they've considered leaving me and continuing to enjoy there currently peaceful home) :)

Here's a few quick picture to leave you with, some of the cooler stuff I've been able to see/do this summer.
Jeju Do's sunrise peak

Jeju is a large island off Korea's southern coast.  The water was beautiful..

Bucheon (my city) has an International Film Festival in July, and this musical bike/car/something was out promoting a movie. Sounded really cool

at the War Memorial in Korea, this memorial (Brothers in Arms or something I think is the name) pictured is dedicated to the hopes of reunification between North and South Korea one day.  The one solider is intentionally shorter, and is of course the North Korean soldier.  Due to food shortages and malnutrition, the North Korean people are drastically shorter than their South Korean counterparts.
Dorasan Station, the last Station in South Korea before North Korea.  No trains use it today, obviously

The bridge to the DMZ and North Korea....has a couple of roadblocks here and there....

By far the coolest this I have done in Korea was to take a tour of this area, the JSA (Joint Security Area).  This is as close as you can get to North Korea,.  The North Korean guards weren't out that day, but the South Koren guards were there for our protection.  Awesome.  The blue buildings you see are United Nations buildings, the others you can see in this picture are all North Korea.  This is where North Korea and South Korea hold negotiations and speak with each other on a variety of topics.  The area is suppose to be a truce, but nonetheless, kidnappings and murders have happened here over the years.  The big building in the back is North Korea's peace pavilion, and to my back is South Korea peace pavilion as well. (South Korea's looks cooler, no worries). We weren't allowed to take pictures of the south Korean building, though.  You can see the line in between the two buildings,  that is the line that seperates North and South Korea.

If you look closely you'll see the Korean guard looking at us in the doorway through his binoculars.  The window to the left of him has a camera that takes all of our pictures..SMILE!  One girl smartly asked our Marine guide what happens if she tried to go cross the line.  He politely explained that while they would attempt to stop her, South Korea is a free country, and she can do as she chooses. He couldn't vouch for her safety in North Korea, but told her to enjoy her 2 bowls of rice a month, and oh yea, you'll be officially an enemy of the United States of America.

Inside the blue building where all negotiating happens between North and South Korea.  The Americam Marine was our tour guide, the South Korean marine was our protection.  The South Korean soldiers are purposely and strictly selected for being assigned at the JSA.  The are masters in at least two martial arts, must be a certain height, and must have a certain look to them. South Korea only wants the North to see beautiful people ha.  He's standing in the ROK ready pose, so he can swiftly move into combat at a moments notice. He has no guns, as the North and South agreed to have no guns in this area years ago.  South Korea still abides to this agreement, North Korea blatantly does not.
So if you go to the far end of the building, guess what? ...... HI MOM!!!! I'M IN NORTH KOREA!!!!!!!

So yes, I will blog my travels much more regularly.  And this time, I will not break this promise.  Cannot wait to see all of you in the future....!