There are only three travel agencies that can be found in North Korea: North Korea International Travel Service, Sports Travel Agency, and Youth Travel Agency. This also determines that no matter which travel agency in China is registered, the only visa and the reception are only North Korea International Travel Service.
Because it is a national travel agency, this travel agency is still very conscience. Although tourists have restrictions on their freedom, since they have chosen to travel with the group, they can’t ask for anything. Overall, this trip is excellent in terms of price, itinerary, attractions, tour guide quality, accommodation and performance.
North Korea’s visa policy for Chinese is particularly loose. The travel visa for entering the train is not directly attached to the passport, but a separate blue visa paper. Therefore, only the entry and exit stamps of the Chinese border guard are left on the passport.
Although North Korea is highly defensive to the outside world, it still encourages the development of tourism. As far as possible, it provides the top level of food, clothing, housing and transportation. There is only one premise – no openness. Therefore, I have been traveling with the group for the first time in more than a decade, but my parents enjoy this travel route that has been arranged throughout the journey. This trip to North Korea has also become the highest-rated object of their annual travel with the group.
How is North Korea going?
Before leaving, domestic tour guides repeatedly stressed that after entering North Korea, they could not take pictures at random, especially if they could not take military personnel on duty; do not use the disrespectful title to North Korean leaders at will; respect each other’s cultural customs; mobile phones may be inspected; It is impossible to leave the team and act without authorization.
On the first day of the journey, time was almost spent on the train. At 10 o’clock in the morning, it departed from Dandong Railway Station and crossed the Yalu River. After more than ten minutes, it arrived at Xinyizhou, the border port in North Korea.
In Sinuiju, we replaced the North Korean train. Our family of three was arranged in another carriage because of the late arrival of the group. The carriages were all athletes wearing red and white sportswear. These athletes all have big bags and small items with their purchases from China. They have toys, pots and pans, and even people bring a big pumpkin!
After changing the train, we have to accept the security check one by one. From the trunk to the clothes pocket, the railway police conducted a carpet-type body search, all in the train compartment. Not only are these tourists, but the locals are treated the same, so the waiting time is extraordinarily long. Before the trip, the domestic tour guide said that if you don’t like being over-examined, you can give the police some candy or cigarettes properly, so we have some preparations.
During the two hours we waited, the train attendant will provide meals to the passengers; fried chicken, kimchi, rice, mineral water, and so on. Although it is a cold box lunch, it tastes really good.
The artificial security check was not completed until around 12 noon. The train slowly started and headed south along the main artery of the Korean Railway. It was along the way to the “three thousand miles of beautiful mountains and rivers” of North Korea. The train speed in North Korea is very slow. It is only 200 kilometers away. It takes more than 6 hours to wait for the waiting time of each station. It was not until 6 pm that we arrived at the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
North Korean tour guide Xiao Hong (pseudonym) greeted us at the platform and then arranged for us to leave from the VIP passage of the train station. The guide Xiaohong Chinese is slipping.
When I got off the train, I saw the slogan of the white-colored red slogan. If it is not Korean, the atmosphere is really familiar. My parents couldn’t help but feel the train. It was like a time train and took them back to their young 80s. Familiar portraits of great men, everyone wearing a great badge, rustic clothing wrapped in a thin and straight body, slightly naive and vibrant eyes, they have been like when they were young.
What does North Korea eat?
The day before I left home, my father asked me to go to the supermarket to buy a large bag of bread. He is worried about the lack of supplies in North Korea, and the travel society has made us hungry. As a result, on the first day of North Korea, we realized the “law of true incense.”
The first meal in North Korea was arranged in a restaurant in Pyongyang. The restaurant maintains the style of the 1980s and 1990s – gorgeous neon lights, simple decoration styles, and passionate red songs.
My parents said that when they were young, some restaurants and dance halls only hosted foreigners, and they seemed to be mysterious at that time. At the beginning, they were not qualified and did not have the opportunity to go in and see what it was like. If you heard that anyone around you could enter this restaurant with a diplomatic background, it was a very boastful thing in the eyes of neighbors. I did not expect that 30 years later, they also have the opportunity to become “foreigners” here.
After dinner, we were arranged at the Xishan Hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang. Xishan Hotel is known as a first-class hotel in Pyongyang, but at the domestic level, it is also a three-star standard. I don’t know if it is intentional isolation, or to let the passengers rest well, including the famous “Yangjiao Island Hotel”, which is built in a place with inconvenient transportation and away from the city.
However, in the early half-curved buffet restaurant of Xishan Hotel, facing the green hills and green water for breakfast, it is still a very enjoyable thing. In the window of the restaurant, there are a variety of cottage snacks, which are also very interesting sights. At least it seems that North Korea’s supplies are not as scarce as imagined.
In the four days of North Korea, every meal can be seen in the minds of the North Korean travel agency, lest the hospitality of our “foreign VIPs” is not good. In the past, the copper bowl meal, the Korean hot pot, and the cold noodles enjoyed by the Korean aristocrats were involved. It can be said that there is meat and wine in the meal, which is very rich. In particular, Korean rice tastes great, and the soft mouthfeel between rice and glutinous rice is very sweet.
In the spirit of hardship and simplicity, my mother gave me and my dad instructions. In North Korea, how much to eat, resolutely not to waste. So every meal in North Korea, we eat healthy and modest.
What does North Korea play?
The four-day trip basically relies on long-distance bus operations.
The next day’s itinerary was from Pyongyang to Panmunjom to see the famous “38th Line”. For a total distance of 170 kilometers, the bus took three or four hours. After the car came out of Pyongyang, the road conditions became very bad. There were always sporadic Koreans on the roadside, filling the pits on the highway with stones. All the way bumps, the phone actually defaults to running, every day the pedometer has recorded more than 30,000 steps of “fitness results” for me.
Miaoxiangshan’s International Friendship Exhibition Hall is the place that impressed me the most. It is not the place to take photos here, and it is also the place with the highest level of security. Before entering the exhibition hall, in addition to the wallet, all the people’s mobile phones, backpacks, hats and other wearing items, all have to be registered.
The building of the Friendship Exhibition Hall is very grand and atmospheric. Although the interior decoration is not luxurious, the height is five or six meters and it is very open. The elevators in the exhibition hall are all energy-saving and sound-controlled. The exhibits here, as their name suggests, are gifts from all over the world to the North Korean leaders. According to the tour guide, the museum has more than 110,000 gifts, reflecting the influence of the leaders in the world.
Most of the exhibits are marked with Korean and English, as well as gifts from China in Chinese. Here is almost a gift from the five generations of Chinese leaders in different periods, from Xu Beihong’s painting to Guo Moruo’s words. There are also bear skins and tiger skins from various countries, which are dazzling.
There are not only our foreign tour groups but also many Korean groups. They are dressed in black suit trousers, white shirts, and red ties. They still have the badges of great men on their chests. They have a small book and listen to the guides to explain the records. They are very serious. This has made us feel a sense of arbitrariness, and we must follow the guidance of domestic tour guides: we must respect each other’s cultural customs.
Before leaving the pavilion, the tour guide took us to a front door and seriously asked us to sort out the dress. Then we took us to the only air-conditioned room in the exhibition hall and took off the three wax figures given to China. bow. The three wax figures are Chairman Kim Il Sung, General Kim Jong Il and Ms. Kim Jong Suk. The wax figure is lifelike, the tour guide is serious and full of tears.
What is North Korea still?
North Korea is practicing 12 years of compulsory education, and Pyongyang’s Children’s Palace is a magnificent building. We have a room in a room to see flowers, see basketball, accordion, guzheng, embroidery, calligraphy, cymbals, computers and other “agent performances.”
I saw the girls in the dance classroom with heavy makeup and red spots on their faces. The faces were filled with festive and strange smiles, which reminded me of the pain that was dominated by the children’s dance classes in childhood. The children of the Children’s Palace are all red and white, clever and lovely. They seem to be very different from those in the villages where the bus passes by, with rough faces, sallows and thin body.
Before leaving, Dad specially prepared a large bag of candy for the children of the Children’s Palace. It is a pity that the plot did not follow his imagination. Under a large group of swarming children, he sent out candy and then thanked the children for their heartfelt thanks.
The truth is that he has always been looking for opportunities to send candy, but all the children have their own duties, and there is no opportunity for us to communicate alone. Finally, the representative of the red scarf that sent us away, politely and embarrassedly refused to accept it. Afterwards, Dad couldn’t help but feel: “Did I do too much?” North Korea may not have as much material as we think.
Unexpectedly, the North Korean subway has also become a part of our sightseeing. In the words of the tour guide, it seems that people all over the world are very curious about the life of ordinary Koreans, so the subway tour has also joined the itinerary. However, this is indeed the latest aspect of our contact with ordinary Koreans.
Under the guidance of the tour guide, we have a group of more than a dozen people, collectively crossed the ticket gate, and under the watchful eyes of the Korean people, the “escape ticket” entered the subway station. According to the tour guide, North Korea’s subway is the deepest and safest in the world and can fight nuclear strikes. The architectural style of the subway is also rich in Soviet flavor.
There is a newspaper bar in the middle of the subway station. Several Koreans waiting for the subway are so fascinated by the newspapers that they are unaware of the subway. Then, we occupied the entire section of the subway car very “overbearing”. After taking two subway stations in front of the great man photo, we left the mighty.
In fact, traveling to North Korea does not require money. There are travel agency arrangements for food, clothing, housing and transportation, and the projects that can be used at your own expense are extremely limited. Even so, my mom bought a few boxes of masks and creams in the shopping malls in downtown Pyongyang, and Dad also satisfactorily bought Korean ginseng and Korean smoke.
When introducing the goods, the tour guide Xiaohong was very proud to tell us: “In North Korea, there are no fakes. The Korean ginseng here is pure natural, you can eat it with confidence.”