We moved out to the outskirts after being around the capital for a few days. We first traveled to this county called Hyangsan. It’s located right in the middle of North Korea and roughly about 2 hours drive from Pyongyang. It was a beautiful day and we passed by fields of beautiful farmland. This county is most famous for it’s Mount Myohyang. It is named after the mystic shapes and fragrances found in the area. It is a sacred mountain site and as according to legend, it was the home of King Tangun, forefather of the Korean people. It’s also a very popular tourist destination for the locals. There are several hiking routes on the mountain and out of the 7 of us, only me and Dione hiked up Mount Myohyang. Fann waited for us at the pavilion halfway up with the others. The view was spectacular. No wonder the people loved this mountain so much. The air is clean and it was a clear sky. Something I have not seen for quite some time, considering staying in a very polluted city of Kuala Lumpur.
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Before we headed for Myohyang-san, we stopped at one of the most important museums in the DPRK, The International Friendship Exhibition. It’s a gigantic complex that houses all the gifts presented to the leader Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il from various foreign dignitaries. According to the guide, this complex was built to show how the world respected and supported their leaders. The leaders built this exhibition complex and made it public so that the leaders could share it with their people. There were two complexes in the area, one was for Kim Il-Sung, the other housed gifts for Kim Jong-Il and Kimg Jong-Un. The complexes were guarded by silver armed guards and the building was huge. Upon entering, we were required to deposit all our bags and cameras at the locker. We were then required to wear these protective bags over our shoes so that we couldn’t dirty up the place. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed so I couldn’t share any interior shots and also some of the gifts they housed. The complex was enormous and the interior was like a maze. There were different sections divided by continents to nations. We were brought to see gifts from our our countries. Malaysia’s gifts to them were basically a huge collection of beautifully crafter Royal Selangor Pewter. The entire exhibition housed between 60,000 and 220,000 gifts, we definitely couldn’t have seen it all. What was most amazing gifts I saw inside were the bullet proof cars, trains and even a private jet gifted by the Soviet Union and China.
We also went to the Pohyon Temple. It’s situated within the Myohyang Mountains. This temple dates back to the 11th century and is one of the national treasures of North Korea. Nearly half of the complexes in the temple were bombed by the US during the war and most of them have been reconstructed. On the next day before heading back to Pyongyang, we went to the Ryongmun Cavern. After traveling quite a bit to China and visiting their caves, this doesn’t surprise me much. But, I was instead drawn to the local guide that took us around the lime cave. The roads inside the cavern was slipperty and quite a walk, but she wore just a sweat suit and were on high heels. I was so amazed by her energy and was imagining how much pain was going through her feet. Instead, she walked all around the cavern as if she was on sneakers. She was busy explaining all the fascinating stories they have created for the rock formations that were shaped like elephants, flowers, cranes, mushrooms and even an old man. Hmm.. the cave was cold but it was indeed quite interesting provided that our guide was funny and looked extremely great in her heels. I guess all girls would envy her feet.