EDIT: This book is currently an Amazon Best Seller in both the job hunting and adventure travel categories. It’s taken months of work but I’m finally a best selling author! — Hey everybody, I have a brand new book up this week. Below is my description from the Amazon.com page. Basically, I’m selling it dirt-cheap, and it’s about how to make money on the road and live to your full potential. Continue Reading
All photos were taken in April 2013 and are copyright to Cyrus Kirkpatrick, all rights reserved.
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The spirit of Pyongyang (“city in the flat-land”) has endured for thousands of years, and despite being continually shattered by warfare, it always springs from the ashes in some unique way. The form the city has taken in the last century is perhaps the most peculiar in its 5000 year history; it is now a city of forbidden sights – a showcase capitol of a socialist utopia that never quite achieved its promise. It is a city filled with lights, grandiose monuments, amazing breweries, high-quality restaurants, hard-working people, and dark secrets.
This current upload suffers from some problems. I was hoping KVOA would have better people scripting their website because I’m cut off toward the end in mid sentence! Nonetheless special thanks to Ryan at KVOA for making this really cool package about the North Korea trip that was featured this morning on Channel 4.
Presenting 15 (+1.. 16!) of the more interesting photos I pulled out of my huge archive of pictures from the 2013 North Korea trip. There’s a lot more pictures left to post, but these are just a few of the ones that seemed to jump out at me. Please wait while this page loads.
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A waitress serves DPRK party members in a busy restaurant.
New buildings in Pyongyang.
Our government guides take photos of us.
An upscale North Korean watches people with a cigarette.
A girl from the industrial city of Kaesong poses for me.
A Pyongyang traffic girl and a rundown truck.
Members of a wedding party.
Myself posing with two guards on the DMZ.
A woman at the Pyongyang bowling alley around 8 PM at night.
Farmers somewhere to the north
A man attends a class in the Great People’s Study Hall
A woman attends a class in the Great People’s Study Hall
A military cycle on the streets of Pyongyang
A crowd assembles in Kim il-Sung Square
Juche Tower rises above the city.
The Pyongyang skyline.
CNN caught up with three of the guys from our group in Beijing after returning from this year’s trip into the DPRK. Featured on the video are several of my buddies: Josh, Patrick and Joseph. The segment does a great job expressing our feelings about the trip and the contradictory nature of going into this country.
There are pictures of me and the rest of us featured in the group shots that are shown during the segment.
This is must watch!
Was Oprah Winfrey once in North Korea at the town of Nampo? Was she really hanging out with Patrick Stewart and “Bond”?
Could “Bond” be Sir Sean Connery?
That would be barrels of awesome.
(Edit; Some have pointed out that “Bond” is “Bono” which makes more sense. The “o” is curved inward a little bit, so I thought it was a “D”. Here’s to hoping it was Sean Connery).
I found this guestbook signature at a rural hotel in the depths of the DPRK this week. It could be a prank by another wandering adventurer, or it could be the real deal. Either way, this unusual guestbook entry gave me and my group a double-take.
What do you think? Is there any information out there about Oprah Winfrey coming into the DPRK? Does the handwriting match her own?
If so, it wouldn’t be the first surprising signature found in the country. Another member of our group, Michael Bassett, signed a book near Kim Jong-Il’s mausoleum with Dennis Rodman’s signature right above it (no pics were allowed in this place unfortunately).
For those who arrived at this page for the first time and do not believe I was in North Korea this week (March 30th – April-6th 2013) in the height of all these tensions, here’s my pic. I’m an American.
Hot in the middle of the latest tensions, our group set sail for the secret country. Included in the crew was Captain Joe Ferris of an American in North Korea fame, Jordan Harbinger from The Art of Charm and Rebel Tribe Tours and plenty of new faces as well. Everyone thought we were crazy to go into the reclusive country smack dab in the middle of what the media is portraying as the gradual buildup to nuclear war.
There is a lot to post, and a lot to talk about, with countless really amazing photos. The most memorable experiences, in my mind, was hanging out with some top-brass in the DPRK army, including one regiment commander near the DMZ who frequently meets up with groups like ours, and remained very friendly and nice even a group of what some would believe to be his sworn enemies – Americans.
The mood in the country was much more tense than before, with many more restrictions in place, yet at the same time the tensions were nothing that overwhelmed anybody. In fact, it was more-or-less background noise; the North Koreans were as friendly as they ever are. In addition, I got to see many new places including the pastoral area of Kaesong, the former capitol of the Chosun Dynasty and now a city of disused skyscrapers and poverty.
To top it all off, Joe Ferris our trip organizer was interviewed by CNN after he returned to Beijing. Reference to the few tourists who were bold enough to venture into North Korea in the height of media-induced tensions was mentioned on the front-page of CNN the same day I returned.
Stay tuned to this blog page with plenty more updates coming out of the DPRK, including editorials and photographic tours.
Next week I return to the mostly frigid conditions of Pyongyang and the regions around the infamous “Central City”. This trip is marked by political turmoil and what appears to be another extended winter, with freezing conditions at night and a chilled air in the daytime. Will the skies be gray and filled with a dwindled sense of hope after international sanctions, or will it be the same happy and bustling place I experienced during the jovial 100th anniversary festival last year?
My expectations lean toward the former. This is one of the more turbulent periods in the North’s history, and I don’t know if there’s going to be the same charm I experienced the first time around.
But what I am excited about is the opportunities that accompany this trip. A major focus for me is the creation of new media out of the country to further cast a light on the people of the North, and this can be done through film and photo. Challenges include the same issues I faced last time, namely working with limited production equipment and trying to edit together a video when it’s all finished. However, with new lenses and hopefully better audio equipment, I aim to make this project a bit higher quality.
As usual, I am hearing a lot of negative feedback from friends and family, as North Korea is not your typical destination, and most wonder why I would choose to ‘vacation’ in such a place. The truth is that this is not a vacation. While I really enjoy being an adventurer, I am trying to do some type of work that I hope somewhere, somehow, pays off – whether through increasing awareness of the plight of North Koreans or perhaps even to eventually help fund an existing charity.
Personal, Mental Notes:
- Bring more backup camera batteries this time.
- Fill out my antibiotic prescription and take it with me. Last time I lucked out, but eating North Korean food can be a gamble. However, it’s still not as bad as Thai street food.
- Be thankful I can walk. I broke my leg almost 5 months ago now. It’s still harder to walk up stairs and do certain movements, but I am mostly healed.
- If I can find a second digital polaroid between now and tomorrow, that’d be great. Jordan’s was a big hit last time, and it’s needed to help lighten the mood, especially if I am trying to take portrait style pictures of locals.
- Keep some pictures on my cam from Arizona to show my guide and others who have maybe never seen / heard of saguaros before.
On the 6th of April I’ll be back in the USA, and I’ll begin the process of unloading all of the media produced from within the DPRK. Stay tuned.
The humid, coastal / tropical conditions of the gulf of Thailand is beginning to get to me as I start to miss the lovely Arizona winter climate. Out here, it’s 85 fahrenheit every-day, and when I step outside my face drips with sweat.
But, I also realize I am on the swan song of my months in Thailand, and I’ll probably miss a lot about this country, including even the atrocious weather. I only have so much time left to make an impact with more cool photos and videos, while simultaneously I have to start thinking about my next job abroad and where else I can adventure (aside from my return to North Korea at the end of March).
It’s hard to leave a country you’ve adapted to. To leave means I must say goodbye to my girlfriend who I’ve been with for months through various arduous trials. She was there when I broke my leg in November, and helped nurse me back to health. Today, as I walk normally after a surprisingly fast recovery, I cannot take for granted that a few months ago I thought I’d be leaving Thailand in a wheelchair.
I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences out here. From the awesome friends I made in Bangkok, to my not-so-awesome experiences at an office-based job that completely fell to pieces. I’ve dealt with crazy farangs (that is – crazy British expats), crazy bar girls, and crazy Tuk Tuk drivers. But, even the crazy stuff has helped define my experiences in a positive way.
From going deep into Isaan, to the giant Buddha art of Ko Chi Chang mountain, there’s a lot of sights to see in this place. But, to understand Thailand you have to look beyond the tourist nonsense that everyone is over-saturated with, and get to know the Thai people – whether through new friends, or maybe a new lover. The Thai people are enigmatic – lots of smiles, but most certainly a level of poverty that influences their behavior – sometimes in a very negative way. But, nobody is perfect, and it’s impossible to leave this country without a ton of new friends and family.
I never really thought much about Thailand before my opportunity with a travel company brought me here. Now, inevitably, I will return here. The low cost of living is a major draw, but my need to stay in-touch with new friends and surrogate family ensures my eventual return.
My last chapter involves going to Phi Phi island in the pristine Phuket region, one of the nicest places on Earth (which means it will be swarming with tourists). After that a final reminiscent week in Jomtien / Pattaya, then back to America.
As some may know, I am returning to North Korea in just over six weeks from the date of this post.
It’s admittedly an unusual time to go, given their nuclear detonation this week. Some elements of the DPRK government remain completely outside the realm of logic and reason. I wonder how much the latest sanctions and provocation will affect their tourism industry.
That being said, aside from the strange political time to enter Pyongyang, this trip is going to be very interesting for a lot of reasons. The first reason is because we will be accompanied by a very well-known TV channel. That is all of the details I can disclose about this, but there’s going to be some very interesting material being produced about the country very soon, in particular during our trip.
The trip is also bound to be memorable as I am again going with famous dating coach Jordan Harbinger from The Art of Charm, and renown North Korean photographer Joseph Ferris from An American in North Korea. Odds are, it will be another crazy and eccentric good time.
Post Your Requests
All that being said, if you found this page from Reddit or elsewhere, I wanted to provide an opportunity for people to post requests (within reason) and I’ll see if I can fulfill some of them.
This may include pictures of specific things in the country, or how you’d like to see me interacting with locals.
For space reasons, I cannot make large purchases for you. But, if there’s a specific item like a North Korean magazine or one of their many souvenir books about their eccentric Juche philosophy, then contact me ahead of time at the below e-mail. I would need payment ahead of time to make the purchase after I am in North Korea, plus shipping after I return to America.
If you want North Korean shampoo, I may be able to smuggle one or two little bottles out of the Yangakkdo hotel for you. It’s surprisingly high quality.
I won’t be able to fulfill every request, but I can definitely handle a few. Don’t be angry if I can’t or am unable to complete a request.
Pattaya, Thailand is an extremely unusual city, and thus contains a large amount of colorful characters. From bikers, to sex hungry professors ditching their wives in England, to people from across rural Thailand who are attempting to redefine themselves. I’ll try to do my best to represent some of these faces.
This Vice.com trip into the Playboy mansion is, like a lot of the site, cynical and pretentious. And also hilarious.
For the record, my favorite type of journalism is that which involves going to a remarkable place and taking pictures of the bathroom.
I am sure the Playboy mansion is a little bit more exciting than how this guy is portraying it. However, he makes a convincing case that it’s fairly commercial and ‘stale’ in there.
You can prove this report wrong, Playboy Mansion, by inviting me in for a photo-tour. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.