Eastern Asia
The DPRK, or as it's more commonly known, North Korea, isn't high on many people's "must visit" list, but after visiting South Korea; standing in the Demilitarised Zone and looking over the border, I knew I had to find a way to visit. Luckily, it's not as difficult as it might be thought. Through Koryo Tours I arranged to visit the country and see if the rumours about what it was like were true. What I found was a fascinating country of friendly and patriotic people. While I only saw what I was allowed to see I still came away with a more positive impression than I went with. I spent most of my time in the capital, Pyongyang where I saw the incredible Arirang Mass Games, the Military Circus and the National Day festivities. I was also able to see the cities of Nampho and Kaesong and visit the Demilitarised Zone again, from the other side of the border.
I entered Mongolia on a Trans-Mongolian train from Russia. My first impression was of the sprawling countryside, seemingly untouched since the time of Ghengis Khan. From the capital city of Ulan Bator I got to explore the city, meet local people and see how they lived in their traditional gers on the outskirts of the city. I visited a national park and spent the night, far from civilisation in a ger.
After travelling along the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways through Russia, Mongolia and China I flew to South Korea to spend a few days exploring Seoul. The city is a spectacular high-tech metropolis, but it has also preserved its history with stunning palaces and remembers it's more recent history with museums and memorials dedicated to the war with the north.
I stopped in Taiwan on the way home from India and Nepal, rather than just change planes, I decided to stay for a few days. At the time Taipei 101 was the worlds tallest building and dominated the city skyline. I spent most of my time looking around the Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek memorial halls.
When I first went to Hong Kong it was under British rule. I was curious to see what the differences were under Chinese rule, but the only difference I noticed was that the buildings had gotten taller. I explored the Central neighbourhood, took in the view from the peak and visited the Po Lin Monastery.