Archives for the month of: November, 2012

To make the most out of my trip to North Korea I decided to spend about two weeks in China before and after the trip. I pretty much did your standard touristy stuff, not hugely interesting in the context of this blog, but when I was looking into sights around Shanghai I stumbled on something I’d never heard about and knew I had to head there.

In the suburbs of Shanghai is a district called Songjiang. To promote tourism and attract people out of the centre of the city they embarked upon a project called the Songjiang new city, an ambitious plan to create several villages that are representative of different countries around the world. The first to be planned and built was Thames town, a full village packed with numerous styles of architecture from England, and even a few duplicated buildings.

In the style of Chester City centre, along with a chain pub.

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One last early wake up call, pack my bag, head to the lift, receive electric shock, enter the lift, go to breakfast, drink coffee and contemplate the wiseness of having a hangover when I’ll be exiting North Korea’s notorious customs. Halfway through breakfast we are informed that the train to the border, which should have arrived the proceeding day, still hasn’t arrived (implying that people have been stuck on that train for at least 18 hours compared to our 14). This means there is no train for us to take and that instead we will have to drive from Pyongyang to Sinuiju. Initially worry came over us as we were all scheduled on various trains leaving Dandong that evening but we were informed that the drive should only take around 2-3 hours compared to the trains scheduled 4.

I stocked up on a few things from the hotel shop before we loaded into the the van for the long drive to the border. A member of the group who was flicking through the North Korean section of the Korea Lonely Planet pointed out that there is no highway to the border (see below, highways are marked red, the border crossing is in the top left corner of the country). At this point we weren’t exactly sure what this meant.

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