The first step towards North Korea!

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Sep 09, 2010

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

After a few days of preperations for my trip to North Korea, which mostly meant buying food, I finally left for the airport for my flight to Beijing. My suitcase was stocked with food (I am a very picky eater and I was worried about the Korean food) and euros (the only currency foreigners can use in North Korea).

But my vacation started with major delay of my flight and I had gotten up early for nothing. When I finally arrived in Beijing I immediately noticed the difference between Beijing and Shanghai; the taxi drivers actually like to make conversation! After checking into my not so good hotel I noticed another difference. After traveling by metro in Shanghai you will never complain about the manners of the Beijingnese in the metro. Compared to the behaviour in the Shanghai metro they are "polite" and actually give you a little space to get off the metro.

I was in for a shock when I arrived at Qianmen, the whole area is being redesigned for the Olympics and it looked nothing like how I had left it in 2006. Beijing is definately changing in rapid speed and you see a lot of works in process. The railway to the airport, the new WTC, the new CCTV building, the Qianmen area, the Birdnest stadium, all are planned to be finished before the Olympics in August. Even the old hutong areas are being fixed up (and many torn down) so they don't give the city a bad image.

I visited Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street and the next day I did my last shopping before meeting my fellow travelers at the office of the trip organiser. There were only three others there, two from France and one from Norway, who all seemd nice. We got a briefing on the situation in North Korea and the rules that our guides would be expecting us to abide by. This mostly meant not taking photos without permission and not being disrespectful to the country's Leaders; Eternal President Comrade Kim Il Sung and his son General Kim Jong Il, also known as the Great Leader and the Dear Leader.

We were all excited and very ready to get on the plane and see Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
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