Unsurprisingly after our somewhat momentous night in Yanji and our first day in Rason, we started day 2 having all had quite the sleep the night before, and thus fairly bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Stop one of the day took us to the Rajin revolutionary museum. Most major towns have a revolutionary museum, which except in the case of Pyongyang tend to highlight the military achievements, or revolutionary part that the particular town played in the part of the revolution. In the case of Rason that it liberated itself before the arrival of the Ruskies and that of the “slogan trees”. Slogan trees were trees where revolutionaries wrote, as you can probably guess, revolutionary slogans on trees! Also that President Kim Il Sung, and General Kim Jong Il, visited quite a few times. In fact General Kim Jong Il was quite instrumental in the setting up of the “zone”.
We then visited the bank! Doesn’t sound interesting I grant you, but in Rason you can change hard currency (usually RMB) for Korean Won at the real market rate, in this case 1 RMB gets you 1,300 Won, and most importantly you can spend it freely.
Following this we went shopping in a regular store. Now I realize this might sound for want of a better word a bit shit, but in Pyongyang this is simply not possible. We were in the shop for quite a while buying local stuff freely in local currency, its amazing sometimes how great the simple things in life can be.
In the afternoon we visited the foreign language school for teenagers and got a chance to have a free chat with the Korean kids, something myself and guests always enjoy. Talking to kids really lets you see what people are really like, and really how much people really are just the same.
Again highlights are a funny thing in that they are rarely what you expect them to be, so when our guide suggested we go rollerblading with the kids, we thought why not, and thus our afternoon was spent rollerblading, buying (local) fast food from the shops, and weirdly watching a cartoon on a big screen in a cold park with a load of kids.
(original story courtest of Gareth Johnson’s blog)