Friday, December 11, 2015

Parky in Pyongyang

     In choosing to attempt to travel to every nation in the world, I realize that visiting some countries will involve some difficult decisions due to safety issues, isolated locations, transportation/lodging expenses or, as in the case of North Korea, political controversy.
      Although there are legitimate concerns regarding economic support for the DPRK government being provided by the few who travel there as tourists, there's also a difficult to quantify impact on those living within North Korea that can be contributed to these highly censored interactions.
     There is no way to put into written words the experience of observing North Korea society, architecture and geography - even from a guarded distance. Here I've included a few photos of Parky and a short, poor quality, hastily edited video to give you a small glimpse of the images that I saw, but only in person could I ever begin to try to explain this experience.

Parky in the DPRK
           Parky in Pyongyang International Airport                   Parky in the Pyongyang Metro
           Parky in Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery                                      Parky in the DMZ
             Parky in Pyongyang by day                                          Parky in Pyongyang by night

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Marshaling on through the Marshall Islands

     My arrival in the Marshall Islands was much different than my arrival in Pohnpei, where I had prearranged an airport transfer. Flights to Kwajalein Atoll land on Kwajalein Island, which is controlled by the US military. Security on Kwajalein is tight with measures including prohibiting photos during landing and not allowing onward passengers from deplaning. Immigration and military inspections are carried out immediately on arrival and those without orders to stay on Kwajalein then board a shuttle bus to another building to wait for the ferry to the island of Ebeye. This process is confusing for new arrivals, of which I appeared to be the only one.  It is even more confusing for officials and other persons faced with someone who appears to be obviously going to the military base, but is actually trying to get to Ebeye. The officials repeated asked for my orders. The shuttle bus drive asked "What's your address?", assuming I needed a ride to my house on the military base. A friendly lady, who had been living on Kwajalein for 4 months asked, “Why are you going to Ebeye?” and then tried to answer her own question with the only reasonable answer she could imagine..."are you a missionary?” Eventually I made it to the pier, waited over an hour for the ferry and arrived on Ebeye after dark - happy to find that it was indeed a simple walk from the dock to the only hotel on the island, as I had been reassured by everyone I had asked.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Taking the Plunge in Pohnpei

     I'm always amused by the little ridiculous moments associated with travel. After saying good-bye to my family in Honolulu, I dropped off the rental car and went to check in. I was particularly proud of myself for finding a one-way frequent flyer ticket from Hawaii to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands with a 13-hour stopover that allowed me to visit Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. However, it wasn’t until I printed my boarding pass that I fully realized the extent of travel planned for the next couple days. When I clicked on "print", the boarding passes just kept coming…FIVE in total!
     My first transit was in Guam and there I had one mission…find cookies. I was determined to get Chamorro chip cookies for the people from Guam that I work with and despite a short late-night stop, I was successful. The next stop was Chuuk (a little more exotic, or maybe rustic). It was a short 40-minute stop for the "island-hopper" and only two of us chose to deplane and join 3 others in the departure hall. When time to reboard, the airport agent proceeded with a very formal announcement, pausing and waiting after calling out each boarding zone - even though none of the five of us were disabled, traveling with children, military in uniform, business class or in zones 1, 2 or 3.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Parky's Pacific Postcards

     Once again I've had the honor of sharing my travel experiences with, and having the support of, my fellow Parkies...including "Parky".