BOSTON (CBS) – Winter is setting in as thoughts turn to getting away from it all. Highly understandable. May I suggest contacting a savvy travel agent and booking passage to one of the more exotic and faraway fun spots? Get those bags packed; you’re headed to the far far away Far East!
Allow me to recommend the National— a multi-star restaurant serving the finest in authentic Asian cuisine. At least according to a solitary reviewer who no doubt was staring down the barrel of a loaded AK-47 when he wrote it. Yes, the National is situated in downtown Pyongyang. In case you don’t recognize the name, it happens to be the capital of this season’s number one vacation hot zone—North Korea, at least according to their official Communist news agency. How delightful that the most secretive country in the world with a height and hair-challenged porno addict at the helm is now open up to tourists.
There are indeed lots to see in Pyongyang. You’ll enjoy mountains, waterfalls, parks, wide streets with very little vehicular traffic and an unusually large amount of monuments and statues dedicated to you know who (the aforementioned Beloved Leader).
The locals are pleasant but you are reminded to refrain from interacting with them at any time. One wouldn’t want to pollute their existence with the knowledge of just how much fun it is to live somewhere else—anywhere else. And don’t expect to take any pictures, particularly of people or buildings. Your affable government hosts wouldn’t approve. I-phones, Droids and Blackberry’s are frowned upon. And who’s got time to check e-mail or tweet friends when you’re busy trying to avoid spending a decade or two in a swanky North Korean prison.
The country is mired in a dismal economy with half of the population literally starving to death while the dictator and his army hoard nearly everything. United Nations sanctions only add to the woes. The nerve of the U.N. cutting off supplies, simply because Kim and his associates actively build nukes and export threatening material to terrorists around the globe? It is simply not fair. What’s a struggling people’s democracy to do? What else, but open up the country a crack to let the vacationers in? No Mickey Mouse ears allowed either.
The highlight of anyone’s journey has to be the relaxing tour of the demilitarized zone and a chance to duck sniper fire along the 38th parallel. Now there’s an activity you’ll want to tell your friends back home about. Assuming you get back home.
I have yet to make my 2012 getaway plans. The idea of visiting North Korea, one of the most mysterious places on earth is wildly enticing. But so is cleaning my gutters, re-seeding my lawn or going to The White Mountains. None of those activities raise the kind of concern that tour guides with fixed bayonets and listening devices does.
I wonder if the National Restaurant in Pyongyang provides take out?