Thursday, December 31, 2015

Korea day 5 - DMZ half day tour + Gangnam underground shopping

DMZ tour - the only way to have a glimpse of North Korea without stepping foot there (Google map doesn't count). We took a half day tour to DMZ. Why tour, because only registered tour groups can go into DMZ via the tour buses. We even got to bring our passports for identification due to the very strict security there. DMZ stands for 'demilitarized zone', a stretch of land that separates North and South Korea and demarcates their borders.

In the tour we were told the history of how Korea became separated, the discovery of infiltration tunnels and business cooperation (Kaesung Industrial Region) between the North and the South. In the vicinity there's an observatory, historical relics of the war, the Bridge of No Return, slips of prayers for reunion on fences and the mid-bridge wall by families who got separated and fences that prevent civilians from going into the landmine fields.

We explored the third infiltration tunnel which proved to be a more physically challenging on our legs than the rail bike we had yesterday. No photo-taking was allowed in the tunnel. It was well-lit, several storeys deep and at some parts pretty narrow with low overhead.

The Bridge of No Return

What is my after-thought on the DMZ tour? It's like a sad story of history with repercussion into present and the future.


Later in the day we explored Gangnam. It is the district south of the Han river, the name literally translates to 'south of the river'.

The mission is not to get plastic surgery or meet some Psy-like oppa but to... SHOP.

There's many 10000 won boutiques at the underground shopping arcade (Express Bus Terminal Station) - at that time 10000 won is around SGD12. What a steal!

The clothes are all of better quality than what you could get at that price in SG. I got myself a few dresses (find them a bit too short though), a cardigan, and a top. There are many worth-to-buy items in Korea if you know how to shop at the right places eg. ear rings, snacks, skincare products. 'Suaku' me just realised the all famous Peppero sticks is from Lotte and Lotte is a brand from Korea. Lotte mart is popular through out Seoul. Pop by one and you could have your fill of snacks and other food stuff. I like the honey milk chips, banana milk and chewy rice puffs.

There were skincare shops around every street corner in Seoul that you can't miss. I would recommend buying at outlets out of Myeongdong because they were generally less pushy and more generous with samples. Innisfree, Faceshop, Etude house products can be as cheap as half the price in SG. I got liquid foundation at below $10, facial cleanser at around $5, facial masks below $1... *gasp*

My treasures from Seoul
Day 1 Here we come Seoul!
Day 2 Palaces tour
Day 3 Ewha and Hongdae
Day 4 Gangchon rail bike and Nami Island
Day 5 DMZ and Gangnam shipping
Day 6 Gwangjang market, Changdeok gung

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