Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

DAY 624: DISMEMBERMENT 16.09.10: So I disembarked (hilariously described on the ferry’s website as ‘dismemberment’)... ...onto the native soil of country number 169, South Korea – a place at pains to remind you that it’s the only divided country in the world.  Which it is.  If you ignore Cyprus/Northern Cyprus. And Ireland/Northern Ireland. And Israel/Palestine. And North Sudan/South Sudan. And Somalia/Somaliland. And China/Taiwan. And Pakistan/Bangladesh. And Mongolia/Inner Mongolia. And Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. And Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia. And Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh. And… But pedantry aside, North and South Korea have been officially at war for over fifty years now (there was only a ceasefire, not a peace treaty) and now we have a crazy situation in which the southern half of the country is one of the richest and most progressive in the world, while the northern half is a basketcase and something akin to George Orwell’s 1984,…

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Day 623: Guten Tag!

15.09.10: So Qingdao , what are you famous for?  Ah, you were a German concession town were you?  And you’re where the Tsingtao brewery is based?  Excellent.  I’ll have a pint.  What’s that?  It’s 50p? I’ll take two.  Ahh… My love affair with China (so much easier to navigate than anywhere in Africa, the Middle East or India ) undiminished, I arrived in Qingdao hoping to take the ferry to Korea today.  Seriously, if this was India, I would have had to give five months notice, spent three days trying to find the correct window and drafted a memo the length of the Gettysburg address to explain exactly why I wanted to get on the ferry (as well as supplying the mortal remains of my great grandfather to prove I’m not of Pakistani descent).  But this is China , so I just asked for a ticket, paid the money and got the ticket. Super. So I…

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