Tag Archives: South Korea

Something totally unexpected: A prayer for reunitification.

During my visit to North Korea this summer, I did not know what to expect. And to be quite honest, I still have not grasped what I did experienced over my 11 days in the country. One of the things that everyone that comes to North Korea gets to see, is  the Joint Security Area (JSA), and the DMZ that I have mentioned in a couple of posts before. But the story I am telling now is something that never had crossed my mind.

When we arrived at the border, we got the normal “tour”, and the history lesson as told by “the victor”.


But then the amazing thing happened. We got told that a Dutch christian group traveled around the world praying for peace, and they were given permission to come to North Korea , and do their thing. They lined up for their song, and I got my camera out. This is how it looked and sounded like.

I was of obvious reasons quite astounded by the event, and found it very cool. I really did not see that one coming. This is the lovely bunch.

gs3a7098 And to make the absurdness complete. Here is a lineup of the minister and his wife together with one of the high-ranking officers at the border.




I have no idea of what the impact of allowing such events to take place in North  Korea does, but let us share an excellent story and hope that this little effort contributes to peace.






A kind of an apparently peaceful war zone

This is a landscape image. But not just from anywhere. It is shot inside the DMZ between North and South Korea from the northern side. Technically there is a truce (armistice agreement) between the UN and North Korea, and that means it still is (even 70 years after the conlict) an “official state of war between the sides”,  so it is special feeling being in this place. We got taken to an observation post on top of a hill, maybe an hours drive from the Joint Security Area (JSA) near Kesong / Panmunjan, and got to look a little bit over the DMZ. The DMZ have a 2 km side that the North have, then you have the demarkation line, and then 2 km of southern part of the DMZ, and then you have South Korea. From the viewpoint you could see over to South Korea, and to my big surprise I was free to take as many images that I wanted. What you can see  in the image is villages and mountain ranges in South Korea, divided by green fields. Not to be mistaken. The lush and green fields are probably full of mines, small arms and other equipment like it was told by the army officer that gave us the tour of the JSA. But still, to be one of the most militarized places in the world. It does not appear to be.



Funny Valentines: quirky celebrations of love around the world

I have partnered with Holiday Lettings from Trip Advisor to bring you some amazing stories. View this segment months segment on quirky celebrations of love around the world.

– Ray

Love may be a universal feeling, but the ways it’s celebrated around the world are very different. From papercuts in Denmark to wooden spoons in Wales, Holiday Lettings falls for some of the world’s weirdest Valentine’s Day traditions.

Norfolk, England


Photo credit: Howard Rein (license) via flickr.com

Are you are suffering Christmas withdrawal symptoms? Then head to Norfolk to find an excellent substitute for Santa Claus. Here, the mysterious Jack Valentine leaves little gifts for local children on Valentine’s Eve and then vanishes into thin air. You can celebrate the occasion at Norwich’s Bridewell Museum with costumed storytellers and a collection of traditional love tokens.

The area is just oozing with romance where you can see the golden sun rise on Holkham Beach, a key location for Shakespeare in Love. How about taking a leisurely boat ride on the enchanting Norfolk Broads? Tour the spectacular ruins of Walsingham Abbey, taking in the arched medieval bridges and shimmering blankets of snowdrops.

Tenby, Wales


Photo credit: Michel (license) via flickr.com

Forget St Valentine – you can celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on 25 January by giving your beloved a love spoon. They are carved with intricate symbols such as keys signifying the keys to a man’s heart. Head to The Lovespoon Workshop near Tenby to learn how these romantic tokens are made in their fascinating demonstration and gallery.

Stroll around the town’s picturesque harbour to take in the bobbing fishing vessels and pretty pastel coloured houses. How about a romantic walk across one of the town’s beaches? You can warm up afterwards with a candlelit dinner at Plantagenet House, where the vast 12th-century chimney hearth creates an amazingly cosy atmosphere.

Ptuj, Slovenia


Photo credit: Ekke (license) via flickr.com

Slovenia celebrates love and the first day of spring on 12 March.. Pust, or Carnival, marks the budding of plants and relationships – so get your animal mask and crazy costume ready. One of the country’s best festivals is Kurentovanje in Ptu, where you can watch processions of the town’s most successful ploughmen and see villagers sporting masks of chickens, devils and fairies.

To see panoramic vistas from a stunning setting, why not head to the top of Ptuj Castle? Then follow the scent to the Lavender Farm in the Haloze hills or luxuriate in the warm waters and saunas of the Terme (spa). You can also take in a show at the beautiful Stadttheater or raise a celebratory glass of local wine at the authentic Vinska Klet wine cellars.

Seoul, South Korea


Women traditionally give men chocolate on the 14 February and men reciprocate by offering sweets on the 14 March (White Day). If you were overlooked, then you’re meant to go to a Korean restaurant on 14 April (Black Day) dressed in black to eat noodles smothered in sticky black bean paste and mourn your singledom. Try this delicious dish at Hyeonraejang restaurant in Seoul’s Mapo district, though, and it will ease the pain of any broken heart.

If you received a gift, why not drift down the Han River on a ferry and absorb the twinkling cityscape? For a different perspective on the river, cross the beautiful Banpo Bridge, where you can hear music and watch water displays. End the day on a perfect note with a trip to the famous and evocative jazz club, ‘Once in a Blue Moon’.

Odense, Denmark


Photo credit: Roxanne Ready (license) [edited] via Wikimedia Commons

Here, men send women ‘gaekkebrev’, a ‘joking letter’ featuring a witty poem on elaborately cut paper and signed with just an ellipsis. If you can guess the correct sender, then your reward is an Easter Egg later in the year. You can see some amazing examples of papercuts, with and without verses, at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum collection in Odense. The famous writer apparently regularly told fantastical stories that unfolded along with strange paper shapes.

You can pay tribute to Andersen’s Tin Soldier and his self-sacrificing love for the Paper Ballerina at his statue in the town centre. Capture a strong sense of fairy-tales at the nearby Funen Village open-air museum with its pretty windmills and quaint farms. The Romantic Gardens in Sanderumgaard are as charming as their name suggests and full of lovely lakes and secluded boathouses for you to appreciate.

Picture of the day: A view of Seoul

Todays image is a view of Seoul, and was taken during a long layover on my way from Thailand to Hawaii some years ago. The Seoul Incheon airport is always one of the top airport in the world, and they had made tours that was available on the airport to “entertain” the travellers that where on route thru Seoul, and you got a nice view of the town.