Friday, April 8, 2011

DMZ - 3rd Time

What is the old saying? Third time is the charm. Looking back it took 3 visits to actually see all the DMZ sights.

The third trip to the DMZ saw me go with 3 co-workers. We took the USO Tour. Since you had to be at the USO office for 6Am we went up to Seoul Friday night and had a good night sleep.

On the trip in and back you were constantly aware the kind of area you were heading into. The tank traps mentioned in a previous post were still around. Add to that the defences along the river banks and roadside that increased the closer you got to the DMZ.

The USO tour didn't stop at ImjinGak. It went straight to Camp Bonifas. There we changed buses. The new one was driven by a soldier and would take us around the JSA. We did had the JSA briefing, did a little tour of the camp then zipped off to the JSA. It hadn't changed since my last visit a year or so before so there isn't much to add about it.

After the JSA we went back to Camp Bonifas and had lunch. Then we changed back to our tour bus and went to the DoraSan Observation Deck. It was the one spot none of my other tours went to. The 1st tour I was on was supposed to stop there but for some reason they weren't allowed to that day.

This time it was open and we visited. The main only?) drawing point for the place is the observation area. From the deck you can see across the DMZ into North Korea. You can see "Propaganda Village" and off in the distance part of Gaesong. There were huge binoculars you could pay to use to look out over the area, or your own binoculars if you brought them. You were not allowed to take pictures from the where the binoculars were.

There was a yellow line about 20 feet or so back where you could take pictures from. Later we were told it was because they didn't want pictures of the defences on this side of the DMZ and the angle from there didn't allow you to see them. Makes pretty good sense in a war zone.

From there we went to the 3rd Tunnel of Aggression. For some reason DoraSan Train station was skipped but since I had seen it my first trip I didn't care too much. After the tunnel is was back to Seoul.

All in all it was a good tour. I highly recommend the USO tour of the DMZ if you are thinking of going. Good price and a good tour.

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