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I woke up at about 5 in the morning. It was still dark, but nevertheless it was interesting to have a look out of the window. I noticed people walking around in the darkness, maybe to reach their place of work.
A map of our trip from Tumangan to Pyongyang:
Slowly it was getting light. The landscape was hilly and covered by maize-fields.
The first photo of the day – a station in North Korea:
My first video inside North Korea:
We approached a town, but due to the delay I couldn't identify it with the help of the timetable...
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Arrival at the station:
I asked the conductors, they told me that this was Kilchu. According to the Russian timetable the train was due to arrive here at 3:58, now it was 6:30.
On the platform there was another train. The conductors said, that it was the Pyongyang – Tumangan train. On the platform there was a booth, where apples and mineral water were sold – the first signs of market economy in North Korea... Also at other stations food was sold at such booths.
Typical seating car:
Also this train had two sleeping cars:
At the rear of the train to Tumangan a helper-locomotive was attached here. Apparently the line is quite steep north of Kilchu.
We left Kilchu at 6:45:
Semaphore: <!--[if gte mso 9]>
The boundaries of the track ballast are usually marked with accurately laid white stones. Every 100 meters a milestone shows the distance to/from Pyongyang. According to them Kilchu is 570 km from Pyongyang. That means that during the night we have done 285 km since Tumangan within 10,5 hours – average speed 27 km/h.
River crossing near Kilchu:
Railway bridges in North Korea usually have no foot-path and no handrails, next to the rails there is just nothing…
Traditional Korean houses near Kilchu:
The whole train:
Somewhere here I made a strange observation: One of the engine drivers opened the door and climbed nearly to the roof of the locomotive. I don't know what he did, he soon returned to the cabin. But that all happened while the train was moving and eletricity (3 kV DC) was in the catenary and the pantographs...
On the roads next to the railway there hardly no cars (only a few lorries, carrying freight and people), but many people walking around. And we also saw many children, obviously going to their school.
7:46 - passing Hak-Sung station: <!--[if gte mso 9]>
7:57 – arrival at Kimchaek:
When the train arrived or departed at a station there were usually masses of railway employees standing on the platform and blowing whistles. Many passengers were soldiers and I assume that due to the "military first"-policy (called "Songun"-policy and introduced by Kim Jong Il after the death of Kim Il Sung, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songun) ordinary passengers were only allowed to get on, if there were free places after the soldiers boarded...
Maize and rice fields:
8:24 – passing Manchun station:
The Eastern sea (Japanese sea):
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8:34 – passing Il-Shin station:
Some propaganda (I assume it tells something like “Great progress in the 21st century due to the wise leadership of Kim Jong Il”…)
Near Tanchon a line to an industrial are (refinery, magnesium plant) branches off (source: Googleearth and http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/download.php?Number=861907)
At Tanchon station (arr. ~9:00, dep. 9:13) we see this former RZD plazkartniy-car in another domestic train (to Hyesan, if I remember correctly). Very interesting!
2nd hand Chinese diesel locomotive:
Double-section electric locomotive:
South of Tanchon the line to Suram-ni via Sangnong-ni branches off:
YOU ALSO WANT TO TRAVEL EUROPE - PYONGYANG BY TRAIN?
Now there is also a travel agency, which can even organize Europe - Pyongyang train trips (but not the route we took). Also I recently found out that theoretically there is a possibility to travel to Rajin via Tumangan legally (but not to Pyongyang).
Click here for more information.
MY OTHER TRIPS
Eurasia 2005: ~35.000 km by train from Europe via Ukraine, Russia and Mongolia to China and back to Europe via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan:
Total solar eclipse 2008: Trip to the total solar eclipse in the Altay mountains (1st august 2008), including a 6-day trekking trip: