Last year I got the opportunity to travel with some friends a bit right before Thanksgiving. I went to a city which lays on the banks of the Yalu River, which separates China and North Korea. North of this city one end of the Great Wall of China overlooks North Korea. It was pretty amazing to stand on such a gigantic piece of history looking into one of the most mysterious countries that exists in the world today. Right before I visited the Great Wall I got a chance to see this mysterious land first-hand. Alongside the river in China there are several companies that sell boat rides to allow tourists to get a closer look at North Korea. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a closer look so we decided to take a ride. Our taxi driver, even though he lives in the city so close to North Korea, decided he couldn’t miss the chance and came with us. It’s a good thing he came with us because he was nice enough to let us in on a secret; we could tip the boat driver to get super close to the banks of North Korea and actually cross the border in the middle river. Even though the bank was lined with soldiers holding machine guns and wooden boxes with snipers inside, the boat driver got about ten yards from the bank. A few of the North Korean guards came over with their machine guns and waved us back, yelling in Korean.
After this amazing and exciting day we decided to treat the taxi driver to dinner when we went back into the city. We told him to pick his favorite thing to eat, which tured out to be grilled meat, vegetables, and seafood. We drank a few beers and stuffed ourselves with grilled food. Like I mentioned before, this was right before Thanksgiving, which was very unfortunate because I got food poisoning from some of the seafood and didn’t even get the celebrate Thanksgiving…
Later that night, we came back to our hotel and I called my mom to tell her the exciting news about getting such rare opportunity to see a mysterious place up close and personal. She was a little upset since it was dangerous and relayed some news to me about North and South Korea. She informed us that we had been near the banks of North Korea about the same time the North Korean military shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. So during this trip, not only did I get to stand on the Great Wall while looking into North Korea, but I also got to be yards away from the banks of North Korea while a part of Korean history unfolded.
Here’s a picture I took on the Great Wall of my friend, Harry Potter, getting ready to take a whirl on his broomstick.