"Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination. I felt transformed, as the memories of the journey were stronger than the feeling of happiness," says Anita Ngai.
Traveling can be a cathartic experience, with the journey often lending time for introspection. In a globalised world, the exchange of both people and ideas, has become the norm. However, few nations still remain shrouded in mystery. North Korea remains terra incognita for most travelers. Anita Ngai, Chief Revenue Officer at Klook, managed to secure a passage to the hermit kingdom. This is her story.
My passion for discovering the unknown secrets of a destination had only made this trip possible. So, here’s my story to a strange land, North Korea. I have heard much about the stories of this state and the secrets of it intrigued me on planning a trip there. When I was studying for my masters in international relations, I specialized in developing economies in Asia, and because of my childhood dream to be a spy, I was mesmerized by the mystery of North Korea.
A visit to the world’s most isolated nation, where cell phones, internet, even cameras remain relatively unknown, exploring the popular attractions is a challenge. But, the reason the city is one of my favourite destinations is that it taught me how lucky I was. Travelers can only visit the country when they’re part of a state-approved tour company - this was quite an amazing experience.
The most unique experience was touring in a stipulated area where you have sight of seemingly staged local North Korean people. The two-hour long morning tour in the mausoleum was quite a different story where the travelers are not allowed to even smile. I was there for a week and I became a big fan of the rules! I learnt the peaceful art of patience and respect.
And it is also important to keep in mind that checking of images clicked on your phone or cameras upon exiting the country is very normal, to avoid disrespect to the Korean leader. So, for those who travel there, know that this will easily take up to 5-6 hours of your time. However, there’s always a way out.
That’s how I traveled back learning the true meaning of ‘yours to explore’ and realised how independent travelers can actually be bonded around travel tours and packages, and you don’t always need to jump off a plane to learn the meaning of adventure.As told to Anusua Banerjee by Anita Ngai.