This past weekend I headed out to Ganghwa Island to be fascinated by a bit of history, and a peek at North Korea from the Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck. Welcome to week 300 (11/3/2016) of Travel Photo Thursday. Yes, we’ve reached another milestone. Hard to believe that this link-up has been around since late 2009. If I weren’t so busy correcting midterm essays, I would have baked a cake! 🙂 Join me this week as we have a pleasant lunch in rural Ganghwa Island, and a look into North Korea.
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Traditional Korean Food
The Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck with its birds-eye view of North Korea was the last stop on our full day itinerary. Before we headed to the northernmost part of the island, and the closest that a person can get to the North while still being in South Korea, we stopped for lunch in a rural village.
The food in Koreas small towns is the best! If you are ever traveling in Korea, be sure to get out of Seoul and into the countryside to sample some Korean fare. This was our gorgeous Korean food spread. I want to call the egg dish in the middle pajeon, which is Korean pancake. I think this was a bit of a variation on traditional pajeon, and more like an egg frittata. Cooked to perfection and filled with veggies, mainly green onion and red peppers, it was a delight to the taste buds. The pancake itself is not spicy, and if you look to the left, you will see a dish with red sauce. If you like spicy, dip your pajeon in, and voila! You’ve got hot!
The banchan (side dishes) include the three green veggies, harvested from the nearby forest. There is also a bit of radish kimchi and grilled fish. The last small dish on the left is green chili peppers with red chili sauce! These are tongue numbing hot! To the right of the pajeon is a dish made from acorns. The consistency is rather mushy, and not to my liking. It’s one of the few Korean side dishes that I don’t eat. We were also treated to some perfectly aged dongdongju, a Korean rice wine, and made by the restaurant owners.
I’m sure that the red chili’s this old lady is drying in the sun will be used in this falls kimchi making.
Walking through the village we found this huge cabbage patch, and like the chilis, these cabbages will be used in the upcoming autumn Kimchi making.
Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck
Our stroll through the village took us to our waiting bus, and we headed off to the Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck, the northernmost most point in South Korea.
From the official brochure:“The Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck enables tourists to glimpse the living environment of North Koreans from the nearest point in South Korea. The Observation Deck, built for cultural and tourism purposes, is expected to broaden mutual understanding between the two Koreas and reform ethnic homogeneity, thereby laying a foundation for peaceful reunification.”
From these photos everything looks neat and orderly, there aren’t very many people around. I was able to view the North Korea side through a high power telescope. I saw a few people on bicycles riding along unpaved roads. Nobody was working in the fields, and there was no farm equipment visible. I could also see several small “suburbs” of lovely white homes. I did see one man driving towards one on his bicycle. There were no cars. The entire scene looks surreal, and I’m sure is staged for the tourist’s eyes.
The whole area is surrounded by barb wire, and there are sentries. We learned that there are many sentries on the North Korean side also, but hidden from view. I’m not sure why. That’s how it is.
As you can see, it’s a beautiful area. Until last Sunday, I didn’t know that Ganghwa Island existed, and although I was aware that Seoul is not far from North Korea I hadn’t realized that the distance is less than two hours driving. I do hope that the North continues to keep their guns and weaponry on their side, and not decide to unleash anything on Seoul for the foreseeable future, if ever.
I made my way to Ganghwa Island on a tour offered through the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS). The Society offers numerous tours, and I highly recommend them if you are visiting Seoul, and want to experience life outside of Seoul, and quite often a little off the beaten track. Tours leave from Seoul between 8 am, and 9 am and return the same day. There are some overnight trips as well. You don’t have to be a RAS member to join a tour.
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