Itinerary (August 10-20)

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Itinerary (Subject to Change)

August 9th.  Depart for Beijing, China (for those coming from the U.S.)

Chinese students

August 10th. You will be met on arrival at Beijing Capital Airport and we will drive to our hotel.  One of us (or our representatives) will meet you as you exit customs at the airport as per your flight arrival time and terminal.  Incase of a flight change or incident at the airport in which we are unable to locate you, please keep the address of our hotel handy for any taxi driver.

Beijing Qilu Hotel 北京齐鲁饭店
北京市西城区地安门西大街103号

You will be given time to rest at the hotel or explore the surrounding area, just north of the famous Beihai Park in the center of Beijing. Dinner for those who arrive in time will be at a well-known Chinese restaurant specializing in Peking Duck (vegetarian options will be made available upon request).  Welcome to Beijing!  Overnight at the Qilu Hotel.

Monday, August 10th. You will be met on arrival at Beijing Capital Airport and we will drive to our hotel.  One of us (or our representatives) will meet you as you exit customs at the airport as per your flight arrival time and terminal.  Incase of a flight change or incident at the airport in which we are unable to locate you, please keep the address of our hotel handy for any taxi driver.  If you want the pick-up, make sure to get your flight information to us by August 1st!

Beijing Qilu Hotel 北京齐鲁饭店
北京市西城区地安门西大街103号

You will be given time to rest at the hotel or explore the surrounding area, just north of the famous Beihai Park in the center of Beijing. Dinner for those who arrive in time will be at a local Chinese restaurant.  Welcome to Beijing!

Tuesday, August 11th, 8:30am. Today we will explore China’s capital city beginning first with a very local Beijing breakfast and then with a stroll through Beijing’s Hutongs, old traditional residential alleyways around the center of the city dating back as far as the Yuan dynasty – although most homes here were built and rebuilt several times over the last two hundred years.  From the Hutongs we will continue to Jingshan Park, the Forbidden City, and Tian’anmen Square.  We will have lunch in a local Chinese restaurant.

The rest of the afternoon will be kept free (approximately between 2:30pm and 5:00pm) but we will be happy to help you find activities that you are interested in if the jet lag has not gotten you.  We will have our first important briefing and conversation at 5:00 and have a delicious Chinese dinner at a restaurant specializing in Peking Duck (vegetarian options will be made available upon request).

Please make sure to pack up your things and bring them down to the lobby the next morning ready to go.

Wednesday, August 12th, 6:30am SHARP.  What’s a trip to China without hiking the Great Wall?  Today we will hit the road early – the bus will leave at 6:45 sharp (the jetlag should have you up and ready by then) – and have breakfast on the bus on our way to a secret (shhhh don’t tell anyone) part of the Wall.  We will hike a stunning, rustically beautiful un-restored section of the Great Wall known locally as Jiankou (but we challenge you to find someone who has heard of it), located about two hours away from Beijing.  The trek will be somewhat demanding and we will be brining snacks with us on the Wall.  Although demanding, the trek is, as said, spectacularly beautiful and we will hopefully be the only people on the wall here, China at its best.  Jiankou dates back to the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and is full of history.  Those not interested in going are welcome to stay in Beijing.

We will have an early lunch-dinner at a local restaurant on our way back to Beijing – the specialty up here is grilled trout for all those seafood lovers – and will make it to Beijing Train Station (北京战 bei jing zhan) for our overnight train to the Chinese-DPRK border city of Dandong (丹东 단동), in China’s northeast Liaoning Province.

The train leaves at 5:30 sharp!  We will proceed through the station together – please try not to wander – it is an extremely crowded, chaotic and confusing place.  I will announce our car and berths on the bus to the station – we are traveling in the “soft sleeper” class.

Incase you cannot find our train or get separated; here is our train information in Chinese (below).  Please remember that our train will depart precisely at five thirty, be on the train no later than five fifteen!

北京开往丹东列车
K27次
出发时间:17:30

Thursday, August 13th, 7:00am.  We will arrive in Dandong early in the morning and head straight for the hotel.

After we check in and get settled down at our hotel, we will have breakfast and make a beeline for the Chinese – DPRK border.  The difference across the Yalu River could not be more extreme; as China booms, the DPRK remains economically static.  Once we arrive we will get our first taste of North Korea by getting to walk on the half-bridge, known in Chinese as the “Broken Bridge” (断桥) that was bombed during the Korean War.

We will drive about thirty kilometers along the border north to the Hushan Great Wall and “One Leap Across”.  Hushan is the furthest east section of the Great Wall and leads right up to the Korean border on the Yalu River.  We will hike the wall (restored – a simple hike) to a lookout tower right over a North Korean commune.  Then we will visit the “One Leap Across” where the Yalu shrinks to a size where one can literally leap right across to Korea.   We will have lunch in Hushan village and then continue some ways further north along the border to allow you the opportunity to see a bit of the “real” North Korea.

Dinner will be at a local ethnic Korean Chinese (朝鲜族 조선족) restaurant in Dandong.  Overnight at Hotel.

Friday, August 14th, 9:00am. Following breakfast, we will first head to the “War to Resist America and Aid Korea Memorial Museum”.  Here, we will have a great opportunity to see the Korean War from the Chinese perspective.

After our visit to the museum we have lunch and then make our way by bus to Shenyang.  Shenyang was formally known as Mukden and was at one time the capital of Manchuria.  We will have a major briefing and discussion in Shenyang before dinner.  Sleep well; we depart for North Korea tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15th, 10:00am.  This morning will be left to your own leisure; you are free to have breakfast at the hotel cafeteria anytime until 9:00.  We will have our morning briefing at 10:00am, our last one before heading into P’yongyang.  Please remember to get in your last minute questions here, as we will not be able to hold briefings once we get to North Korea.

Our group lunch will be at around 11:30 and following lunch we will gather all of our bags and file into the bus to the airport. We will be flying directly into P’yongyang (a 50 minute flight).

Our flight is Air Koryo JS165, departing at 15:00 and arriving in P’yongyang at 16:50.

We will clear Korean immigration and customs in P’yongyang and meet our guides at the baggage claim at the airport.  They will take us into P’yongyang and we will quickly stop at our hotel to put our bags down before being shuffled off to dinner and then immediately to P’yongyang’s May Day Stadium to see the ARIRANG MASS GAMES!

What are Mass Games?

Mass Games can basically be described as a synchronized socialist-realist spectacular, featuring over 100,000 participants in a 90 minute display of gymnastics, dance, acrobatics, and dramatic performance, accompanied by music and other effects, all wrapped in a highly politicized package. Literally no other place on Earth has anything comparable and it has to be seen with your own two eyes to truly appreciate the scale on display.

The Mass Games organizers state that ‘Juche orientated mass gymnastics of Korea originated from Flower Gymnastics, a work by President Kim Il Sung created in 1930, the early days of his anti Japanese revolutionary struggles’. 1961 marked the fist truly Korean style Mass Gymnastics piece with the catchy title of ‘The Era of the Workers’ Party’. Today, Mass Gymnastics represents ‘the ideological theme of the history of the country and nation splendidly through combination of gymnastic formations, backdrops involving tens of thousands of people and music’. The games is not merely a visual spectacular, through the training and performance of the games ‘the ideological theme promotes social development and it trains not only the people’s physiques but also their spiritual power’.

Unlike a sports competition, where the athletes compete for a prize, the mass gymnastics of Korea brings ‘pleasure and satisfaction to the performers as well as to the audience and instills in their hearts hope for the future’.

As Leader Kim Jong Il pointed out in a meeting with the mass gymnastics organizers in 1987 ‘the Korean style of mass gymnastics is a mixed form of comprehensive physical exercises with a combination of high ideological content, artistic quality and gymnastics skill’.

Preparations are visible on the streets of Pyongyang well in advance of the Mass Games with tens of thousands of gymnasts preparing their routines in the city’s open spaces and parks. The 2009 performance will be entitled ‘Arirang’ based on a historic tragic love story but will be adapted to represent the struggle of North Korea during the Japanese occupation and Korean War. Students have been practicing every day since January. The 90 minute performance which will be held every evening at 7pm will feature the ‘largest picture in the world’ a giant mosaic of individual students each holding a book whose pages links with their neighbors’ to make up one gigantic scene. When the students turn the pages the scene or individual elements of the scene change, up to 170 pages make up one book.

Sunday, August 16th, time to be set.  In the morning we will drive approximately two hours outside of P’yonogyang to visit Mt. Myohyang.  Mt. Myohyang is known to be one of the most beautiful places on the Korean peninsula and is home to a bunch of curious monuments to North Korea’s Great and Dear Leaders.  The shrines to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are both located here, in addition to the Hall of International Friendship, where all the gifts from foreign dignitaries giver to the Kims are kept (including the basketball autographed by Michael Jordan given by then secretary of state Madaline Albright).  While on the mountain we will visit a Buddhist temple kept as a relic of times past.

We will have lunch on the mountain and then drive back to P’yongyang.  Once we get back to the city, we will visit the Juche Tower and the Korean War Museum.  We will have hotpot for dinner!

Overnight at the Yanggakdo Hotel, P’yongyang.

Monday, August 17th, time to be set.    In the morning we will drive two hours south to Kaesong (开城 개성), an industrial city bordering the DMZ.  There we will visit the Koryo Museum, then we will venture down to the town of Panmunjom in the DMZ, where we will have an opportunity to visit the North-South Korean border and enter the joint rooms on the border between the North and the South.  We will continue to the Kim Il Sung steel before returning to P’yongyang in the afternoon where we will visit Kim Il Sung’s palace.  Lunch and dinner will be Korean style.  Overnight in P’yongyang.

Tuesday, August 18th, time to be set.    Following breakfast, we will first visit P’yongyang’s riverside parks, Kim Il Sung Square, the Daetongmun (P’yongang’s Arc de Triomphe) and Ryongwanghyong.  After our Korean lunch we will venture west to the North Korean port city of Nampo (南浦 남포) (approximately one and a half hours away) to see one of North Korea’s largest ports and dams.

When we get back to P’yongyang in the afternoon, we will visit the P’yongyang Metro, definitely a site not to miss (it is highly decorated) and the P’yongyang’s Children’s Palace where we will enjoy a performance from the school children there and perhaps even a visit to Kim Il Sung University if we are lucky!  Dinner at a Korean restaurant in P’yongyang.  Overnight in P’yongyang.

Wednesday, August 19th, time to be set.  After breakfast we will visit the “Ten-thousand Years of Life Memorial” and the Chollima (horse) statue in addition to P’yongyang’s old city gate and the China-Korea friendship tower.  Then we will head to P’yongyang Airport for our flight back to Shenyang.

Our flight is Koryo Air JS155 departing at 12:20 and arriving in Shenyang at 12:30pm.

Once we arrive in Shenyang we will visit the old Manchurian Forbidden City, the home of the Manchu emperors and have dinner before our train back to Beijing.

Thursday, August 20th, 9:00am. We will arrive back in Beijing in the morning, welcome back!

Depart Beijing for the U.S. or continue with your own travels in China.  Please note that our program ends this morning, so if you need to leave for the airport you will be responsible for getting a taxi there.  We will be more than happy to provide any travel help you may require.


2 Responses to “Itinerary (August 10-20)”

  1. hi! how much does the trip cost?

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