Thursday, May 10, 2007

DPRK, Day 3

Day 3. Pohyon Temple, International Friendship Exhibition, circus, Pyongyang Film Studios.

By day 3 we could all decode our guide H's seemingly gentle but in actual fact very firm commands. Examples:

Shall we go = We must leave now
Shall we take the bus = Get on that damn bus now
Maybe = No
We'll see = Maybe

Don't get me wrong cos the lady was the sweetest (especially when you compare her with Prada Bitch, the other guide for Team A), but I guess she had guidelines to follow. And not to mentioned the 2 watcher-dudes. Sorry, assistant guides.

Anyhow the fresh and crisp day began with a trip to the local Pohyon Temple. Built in 1042 it was subsequently rebuilt many times. There are 10 structures on the ground, mostly 'gates' like the one below. The elaborate roof designs in the gates. Loved the colorful details. The structures are smaller than Chinese temples in general.

The main temple and its cute and colorful doors.
It was refreshing to see other statues as supposed to you-know-who's.
After the temple we headed to the International Friendship Exhibition, where gifts presented to the two Kims from around the world are proudly showcased. Kim Il Sung's colossal building has some pretty funky retro stuff which include an upright stuffed crocodile holding a serving tray (glasses included), train carriages, and some pretty cool cars. The place was so big we were only shown a small part of it.

The Kim Jong Il building has more modern gifts such as flat-screen TV, MP3, stereo, and even Piaget diamond watches. Too bad no cameras were allowed.

We were however allowed to retrieve our belongings before we were shown to the gift shop. The shoe covers had to stay on though. All that shiny marble flooring!

After lunch we then began the 90-min drive back to Pyonyyang to see the circus performance. In this instance the army's circus was not on and we went for the civilian one instead.
There were lots of juggling and balancing acts, and they were sprinkled with 70s slapstick.
Half way through the show we realised the music came from a live orchestra above! Impressive!
Before the trapeze finale we were subjected to a Japanese-bashing sketch and the audiences were loving it. People were also laughing hysterically in another act where 2 bears were in. The poor bears had to walk on their hind legs and jump hoops. So sad.

Next we were taken to the Film Studio. Founded in 1947 many files about the history of Korea were made there. When it comes to depicting Korean history US and Japan bashing is imminent. Here you see the mock location set of South Korea featuring "US Army Gambling".The brothel on Japan Street was also our favourite.

It'd be cool if we could get hold of one of those movies. Too bad we don't speak Korean though. Anyhow, time for dinner and a few drinks. It's been a long day.

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