Tag Archives: north korea

Life Blog Series (Why I am talking to myself) – Part 12 – ( Lonely Planet ? )

Standard

Caveat: This can just flip you out because you travel and possibly have traveled way less than the guys I’m talking about in this blog. So don’t flip out mi amigo!

Since Google’s Blogspot has no such feature such as reblog for me to write a referral post, I will just copy-paste the content of the article I found amazing and it made me fall flat on my back for a moment and think. The content that is to follow is snapped out of a blog which has been written by 2 German brothers who completed a close to 7000 Kms. of hitchhiking journey through the fuckin’ Silk Route. When I talk about Silk Route from now on, you should immediately keep a reference of this picture (below) in your mind.

800px-Silk_route

Without me even trying to provide you with a vivid and comprehensible way in which they achieved this feat, I will just ask you to delve deeper into how they did this and refer to their blog for more details. Life Blog Series feels proud to have featured this piece.

———————-Content Begins—————————–

7000 Kilometers. 107 Lifts. 5 Countries. 2 Brothers. One Road.

 It’s was bound to fail: Four weeks time to prepare for one month of hitchhiking along the Silk Road – today’s most dangerous and both politically and infrastructurally difficult route.

But yes we did! Thumbing up truck rides in the hottest desert on earth, got lifts with public bus through Kurdish Iraq, hitched a hotel, Germanwings and longtail boat. We put up our hammocks in picturesque moon-like landscapes and onlonely Thai beaches. We hitch-hiked the newest BMW and Indian tractors. We explored Istanbul with crazy CouchSurfers, enjoyed tasty Bakhlava in Southern Anatolia and zero-g-forces in Northern Iran. We played futsal in Shiraz and learned how to wash before prayer with Furkan. We were thumbing the road for more than 5500 kms together. Craig topped the 7000-kilometer-mark hitching to his second home Malaysia.

Everywhere, one of the first questions we heard was: “Isn’t it dangerous?” – No. It’s not. To go by car in the first place is the dangerous thing. Hitchhiking is as safe as you make it: We only go with people with who we feel comfortable. Other questions centered around the feasibility. Despite all adverse conditions (low population density, Iranian don’t know what is hitching) Iran turned out to be the best country to thumb up lifts. Even the other countries were far easier to hitchhike than Germany. With one exception … India.

We had an awesome time hitching Indian tractors etc. but we would rather go for the unforgettable train rides on future trips. Autostop in India is exhausting: Sometimes it takes you more than half an hour to only explain what you do. Other reasons: Extreme cheap public transport and scarce long distance traffic on roads. Can you imagine that one of the four principal highways leaving 20-million-Mumbai is a two-lane (!!!) road?

To all fellow hitchhikers who want to stage the Silk Road and those among them who have the dream of doing a full overland route – like we wanted in the first place: You need far more preparation time, approximately three weeks more than we had. You’d need to be fine with four days of desert only. Trust us: Desert is nice to see – but only for some hours. Another bound-to-fail-challenge: Try to make friends with somebody in the Pakistani embassy to get a visa for overland entry – otherwise it’s currently impossible. Then you’d need to change and expand the route significantly going for China since there is no usable Bangladesh-Myanmar land border crossing and heaps of difficulties to get required permits for India-Myanmar border crossing let alone for the troubled Indian border state Manipur. In plain English: It’s today’s most difficult route to prepare and realize.

Sometimes people ask us if we go with no money. In our opinion the idea of zero-expenditure-travel is nuts and close to scrounging – and that is not what you want your hosts to think of you. It’s also not practical: Perhaps we’d to bribe a border officer to enter a country. Sometimes you are simply hungry and need a Kebab or Samosa 😉 The currency you pay with while hitchhiking is entertainment.

Anyways you can still expect to enjoy a breathtaking fun time with a mini budget. We spent 100€ each to India (museum fees etc.) and another 50€ for Craig to reach Malaysia.

It’s however not our financial situation that inspired this trip. It was our lust for adventure and serendipities: Meet people, see places and go beyond frontiers. As we make friends along the Silk Road we advance cultural understanding and global peace.

We’d like to express our appreciation for all the people who helped us: The gay Dutch, the Thai policeman, Germanwings for the VDB, Hennessy Hammocks for the awesome hammocks, the CouchSurfers, our Mama and Papa, our friends Felix, Dany & Robert, Craig’s Malaysian family and anybody who made this trip possible.

Some people ask: “What comes next?” … Well, perhaps ‘Urban Tourism in the Bronx‘, ‘Parachuting over North Korea‘ or ‘Riding through Mongolia with only a donkey and a fridge‘.

Advertisements

Prisoner of War for 11 Months – USS Pueblo 1968 Incident

Standard

Prisoner of war, Stu Russel was one of those on board the United States Navy electronic surveillance ship USS Pueblo, when it was captured off the coast of North Korea in January of 1968. The ship was fired on before it was taken captive. Survivors were taken hostage in what became a hellish eleven months of abuse and torture, which the Koreans attempted to hide with political propaganda during the diplomatic efforts made to get American prisoners of war back home alive. The propaganda included relaying photos of the prisoner of wars in world media showing how wonderfully these captured seamen were being treated. The story that follows from here is very interesting that shows how stupid DPRK (North Korean) people were in not being able to recognize how these POWs were discrediting the propaganda massively.

To Know more about the incident, Read this – USS Pueblo Incident

To hear to the POW Stu Russel about his dismal experience :-

The following account of their time spent as POWs in North Korea by Stu Russell himself is a substitute for the video if you do not wish to watch the interview.

THE DIGIT AFFAIR – by Stu Russel

In June, we were taken to the Club for yet another film. Unlike the usual fare of feature films of the war movie, labor hero genre, we were shown two short subjects. One was a film about the DPRK soccer team’s visit to the play-offs in London. The other was about a US service man’s body being returned to the UN side at Panmunjom by the DPRK. Two different subjects, but one common action united the two films.

The film about the soccer team began with the North Korean team arriving in London and driving through the streets in a bus festooned with flags of the DPRK. As the bus drove down the street one proper English gentleman complete with derby and umbrella spotted the bus and flipped it off! The man must have been a Korean War vet and he was giving the bus the finger. Whoever was taking the pictures zoomed in on it.

Image

A murmur went through the crew; the KORCOMs (Korean Command) didn’t know what the finger meant. This was further demonstrated in the second film in which a US Navy Officer flipped off the cameraman. They left it in. We now had a weapon! Back in our rooms we were elated, this was one more thing we could use to discredit the propaganda we were being forced to grind out. Several crew members expressed caution, but the general attitude was use it. We had been captured, but we never surrendered. Damn the Koreans, full fingers ahead.

File:Gesture raised fist with thumb and pinky lifted.jpg

The finger became an integral part of our anti-propaganda campaign. Any time a camera appeared, so did the fingers. A concern grew among us that sooner or later the Koreans would notice this and ask questions. It was decided that if the question was raised, the answer was to be that the finger was a gesture known as the Hawaiian Good Luck sign, a variation of the Hang Loose gesture. In late August one of the duty officers asked about the finger and seemed to be accepting of the explanation, but most of us realized that our zeal to ruin their propaganda would come back to haunt us, eventually.