The place, the people, the decor, the way things were portrayed, it was a total shock to me. I had never experienced something so surreal in my life. Of course, the tours only see a small % of what actually happens in this country. Still, it was very influential.
Having no internet at all was also a new factor to consider. I was used, as most of us are, to checking my phone, updating my status, emails, chatting to friends, instantaneously, whenever I wanted. Here – nothing. As cliche as this sounds, it actually made me realise how much time I wasted online. More time to write, read and speak to others. Using my mind and being present instead of away with the online fairies. We can all be guilty of this.
I took a great deal from this trip, more than any other so far. It was a small peak into a whole new way that people live. This kind of knowledge of the world and how different humans lives are, is so important to be able to look at our own lives. It always highlights the differences and how diverse the world really is, and how much freedom a lot of us really have. I have a new found respect for my own.
Una, our guide, is a very lovely, sweet woman. She is the exact same age as me, and what parallel universes we come from. She has never been out of North Korea, she lives at home with her entire family, and works as a tour guide – she told us she was a very lucky person to work as a guide, and she was one of the best paid people. Seeing the celebrations on the media the past few days, I have been wondering a lot about Una since being back, and her family, wondering what she is doing right now. I hope she will be ok.
Everything seemed very orchestrated, a too ‘happy clappy’. I often wondered if any of these people knew about the ‘outside world’, and how their country is really looked at. The lady in the history museum, was very proud to tell us their versions of history, which she of course believed to be 100% the true way things happened. I suppose many countries do this, but it’s all so much more exaggerated here. She even asked who was British in the group, and when I reluctantly raised my hand, she went on to show me a British plane North Korea captured, and killed the pilots on the spot for being spies – all told with a smile.
I don’t know an awful lot about politics or history, but what I have learnt about this place, and the world we live in, has been one hell of an eye opener.
It was also funny to see everyone suddenly stop interacting with one another at Beijing airport after the flight back, once people had the beloved internet back… in fact, I have made a vow, to spend considerably less time online since this trip!! Let’s see…