North Korea is one of those countries you can barely call a tourist destination. Our idea of it is limited to the picture painted by words of people who have been to Pyongyang, and the photos sanctioned by its own government.
Tours are mostly restricted to the capital, and can only be done through state-owned travel agencies. What many people don’t know is there are ways to see at least three more North Korean cities — the parts the North Korean government doesn’t want tourists to see.
Using my iPhone 7 Plus and the Ztylus Revolver M Series Lens Kit, I got to peak at and capture Sinuiju, Uiju, and Chongsu in North Korea by going along the border city Dandong, as well as the Yalu River, the body of water that separates the two countries.
The 6-in-1 lens system offers the following combos: wide-angle + telephoto, fisheye + telephoto, and macro + super macro. Just to get it out of the way: I don’t find the macro and super macro lenses to be as useful since the phone needs to be pointed at subjects really close — less than one inch away — for the camera to focus.
The best I could do were these small flowers and insects from around Dandong that don’t really say much about the place. The bokeh on these photos is cool, but I’d much prefer a portrait lens especially when traveling.
The wide-angle + telephoto and fisheye + telephoto combos are great though, especially because the telephoto lenses provide up to 4x zoom without losing quality, while the wide-angle and fisheye capture so much more than the iPhone 7 Plus’ main lens.
Three bridges connect China to North Korea but only the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge is being used. Majority of North Korea’s international trade is done between Dandong and Sinuiju through this bridge.
Beside it is this pedestrian bridge that any tourist can use but ends in the middle of the river. Both bridges were bombed during the war, but this one was never repaired. On the other side of the river is a ferris wheel, water slide, and people playing basketball.
Dandong is where the Great Wall of China starts in the east and it sits across a mountain called Hushan.
When climbing to the top, there are a few of these passageways that you can use as resting points.
From one of the windows you can see the remainder of the wall that you need to climb.
Getting to the top is no easy feat but it’s worth it since you get a good view of Uiji county.
Here’s Dandong, China on the left, and Uiji, North Korea on the right.
You can go down through the other side so you can get a closer look at agricultural land and some houses in Uiji.
At the foot of the mountain are signs prohibiting people from crossing the border…
… as well as some North Korean products like ginseng, tiger bone liquor, and soap you can buy as souvenirs. They’re also selling North Korean Won, but they’re most likely counterfeit.
Another way to see North Korea is by taking a van further up Dandong. Speedboats cross the Yalu River past this broken bridge, and bring you to an area that’s already North Korean territory.
Up close you can see houses and buildings in Chongsu, North Korea that look abandoned.
But as you go along the river you’ll find signs of life: cows, farmers walking around, and occasionally, their pet dogs. I even saw a lady doing her laundry along the river.
This is what most of the houses I’ve seen look like. Unlike Pyongyang that has plenty of signs of urban development, this part of North Korea remains mostly rural, with agriculture as one of the main sources of living.
Before the boat turns around, you’ll see this bridge that locals use to cross to another part of North Korea. I saw some kids swimming in this area, and a few people on their bikes wearing clothes that look like they’re from the 1980s.
On the way back, the Chinese guide will try to sell you a North Korean bill, which, again, is probably fake.
Apart from the usual North Korean souvenirs I’ve seen in other shops, the ones sold at the wharf include Matryoshka dolls, plush keychains, and selfie sticks.
These photos don’t tell the whole story, just like a Pyongyang tour isn’t a definitive representation of North Korea. For sure there’s a lot more I didn’t see, both good and bad, beyond these border cities; but seeing North Korea through a different lens, no pun intended, without the state-organized tours is one of those life experiences money can never buy.
Before this trip, I thought I’d see heavily barricaded cities with soldiers constantly patrolling the border. Instead, what I saw were North Koreans living their lives as normally as possible, enjoying the outdoors, looking up and not down on screens like the rest of the world.
Are Roblox, MLBB, Call of Duty, Genshin Impact on AppGallery?
Huawei’s App Library gets deeper
Is it on Huawei AppGallery?
This is the question we get asked most when people are curious about a Huawei smartphone.
It’s no secret to anyone the challenges that Huawei faces. But they’ve done a wonderful job beefing up their own library of apps. The essentials are there. And now, we’re happy to report that they also added these apps for your mobile gaming pleasure.
These are: Roblox, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Genshin Impact.
Here’s how easy it is to download these apps through the Huawei AppGallery.
WATCH HOW TO DOWNLOAD HERE.
Roblox describes itself as “the ultimate virtual universe that lets you create, share experiences with friends”.
It appears to be very popular with kids. And some K-Pop groups have even launched partnerships with the game during their mini album releases.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang or simply Mobile Legends is a game many of you should be familiar with, especially if you live in Southeast Asia.
It’s become the de facto MOBA game for many in the region. So much so that huge tournaments have been held over the past few years.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty is already a popular franchise on its own. It also found huge success in Asia with its mobile version.
Call of Duty is no stranger to seasonal content as even their flagship titles operate in the same manner year after year. This is likely why players keep coming back.
Genshin Impact took the world by storm when it first launched in 2020. The anime-like art style along with the engaging gameplay and story made it a huge hit.
HoYoverse continues to provide fresh content to this day, expanding the already vast world in the game.
Why the next-gen Ford Ranger is a Spartan-approved vehicle
Packed with creature comforts that make driving and being a Spartan easier!
A few years ago, I was only dreaming of becoming a Spartan. I took a leap of faith by taking on a Spartan Race back in 2022 in the midst of a hurricane, running through a 10-kilometer muddy trail.
In case you didn’t know, Spartan Race is the world’s premier obstacle course race hosted across the globe. It tests the limits and grit of an athlete, transforming anyone to be their strongest and most unbreakable self.
Three races in and I’ve clocked a total of 36 kilometers, ending the year as a full-fledged Spartan. A 10-kilometer muddy trail in Vermosa; a 5-kilometer trail run inside Timberland Heights; and a 21-kilometer mixed trail in Alviera.
As the 2023 season begins, I was dead-set on taking my first Age Group (competitive) category and a back-to-back race on the same day. All my gears were Spartan-ready, and all that was left was a vehicle appropriate for a Spartan.
In my quest to prepare for my most enduring race yet, Ford lent me the Next-Gen Ford Ranger. The Next-Gen Ford Ranger arrived in a Blue Lightning colorway, emanating strength and speed. It was instantly a head-turner, catching the attention of other commuters and passersby.
Everything about the Ranger screams Spartan. The vehicle exudes the same ethos we live for. It’s battle-ready, extremely durable, and insanely powerful.
Not to mention, it has striking looks — which I always exude whenever I take on a race. How can you get noticed by event photographers if you won’t play with colors, right?
It looked strong and it made us feel powerful. “Us” as a collective because the emotional state doesn’t just pulsate with the driver, but also with its passengers. One weekend with the Ranger and we felt like warriors. Ready to take on any challenges that we can conquer.
Made for Spartans
Just because I’m a Spartan doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the creature comforts the Next-Gen Ford Ranger brings. In fact, I am trained to be uncomfortable but the vehicle’s features allow me to pursue the Spartan lifestyle.
Call it a paradox but we take the convenience of having a comfortable ride and/or drive so we can train our minds and bodies to be familiar with pain and discomfort. As a modern-day Spartan, life isn’t all about battles and preparing for war under the heat of the sun.
We wage our fights through our day jobs, balancing our personal lives, while also developing our bodies to be ready for sports.
Having a tech-infused vehicle enables me to freely pursue the life of a Spartan. If you’re familiar with Ford’s driving experience, which we have mentioned several times here in GadgetMatch, it’s always buttery-smooth.
Even with a humongous body, I can maneuver the steering wheels easily. As someone who drives small cars, I felt the heft and the pain of driving a bigger automobile. But the features packed inside the vehicle made driving smoother — both for rookies and seasoned drivers.
When a smartphone and a vehicle match!
With every technology update to Ford’s lineup of automobiles, it’s becoming more of a tech machine each year. The Next-Gen Ford Ranger is no exception with the ability to use FordPass Connect. If you’ve been living under a rock, FordPass is Ford’s newest technology utilizing remote control functions for the vehicle through an app.
When I was in a hurry and I couldn’t locate my keys, I used the FordPass app on my iPhone to remotely unlock the Ford Ranger. Through the app, I was able to remotely start the vehicle so I can turn on the air conditioner even before I step in. I was also able to stop the engine, lock the car, and check the fuel level — all in one space.
What I like the most is the vehicle locator feature, which allows me to find the Ford Ranger in crowded parking areas. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use the feature when the Ranger was parked in Vermosa’s gravel lot since I was the only one with a vehicle in a striking blue colorway.
Aside from FordPass, the accessibility and ease of use of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allowed everyone to connect with the vehicle to help in navigation and music playback. We sang “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus while on our way to Alabang so we can hopefully shake our pre-race jitters.
I personally love the bigger, best-in-class 12-inch portrait touchscreen that allows me to see an overview of the map, adjust music playback, and even have a space for responding to calls and messages.
The perfect companion for an endurance race
For a pick-up truck, the Ranger offers extremely comfortable space for its passengers. We picked up Alison — my friend, a teacher, and an elite athlete — partaking in the first race of the weekend. Alison competed with elite and national athletes, hopefully qualifying for the national team.
Alison, together with other competitive athletes, gleefully took some rest in the back seat while in transit. They loved the leg space and the coziness the couches offered. The same experience goes for the front passenger seat, which I took as I was playing with the car’s features while my friend Betty took on the wheels.
When female Spartans are lovin’ it
Perhaps, the people who enjoyed the Ranger the most are Spartan women that I befriended after my first race. Jomi and Betty, competitive athletes who are consistently part of the Top 10 of their respective age groups, took over the wheel while I was exploring the Ranger’s features and technology.
Recently, I have learned that the Next-Gen Ford Ranger is officially the best 4×4 and pick-up according to the Women’s World Car of the Year judges. It won for a multitude of reasons; the same reasons that Jomi and Betty loved when they experienced driving the Ranger.
From excellent ride and handling, a suite of advanced driver-assist technologies and other safety features, an upgraded chassis and suspension, and the bold and confident look that resonates with strong, independent women. What more can they ask for?
Fostering a sense of community
What I love about the Next-Gen Ford Ranger is how it builds a sense of community, the same way a Spartan race brings people together. Parked in the gravels of Vermosa, the Ford Ranger became a holding area for my friends and teammates.
We used the cargo box to house our bags, equipment, and food. We were able to gather behind, passing jokes and drinks after an exhilarating day.
I used to do things alone and now, I’m surrounded by like-minded people — which was the best plot twist I’ve had so far. And even if it’s just for a weekend, I’m grateful that the Next-Gen Ford Ranger helped in making my first competitive and back-to-back race memorable.
Even with an aching body, the Ranger offered a smooth, safe, and reliable ride on our way home. It’s definitely a Spartan-grade vehicle, made for modern-day Spartans.
The Next-Gen Ford Ranger comes with a 5-year warranty. The longer warranty offering will cover the Next-Gen Ranger for up to 5 years or a total mileage of up to 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.
For more information, visit the Ford Ranger page on the website to reserve the next-gen Ranger through www.ford.com.ph or check your nearest Ford dealer.
Exploring wonders and falling in love with Barcelona
Spectacles of the cosmopolitan capital through the lens of the OPPO Find N2 Flip
Barcelona was never quite the city I wanted to fall in love with. But that’s the beauty of love, isn’t it? We don’t get to decide whom we fall for.
With its quaint abodes, cobblestone streets, fine architecture, evergreen trees, and naked branches — the sights are perpetually picturesque.
Everywhere you look is a marvel; buildings glimmering from the sun’s glow. But there’s something about its nook and cranny that are filled with love and charm, and it only shows up when you take the time to get to know the city.
In love with the streets of Eixample
Every street in Eixample brims with magic. It is, after all, one of the busiest districts in Barcelona known for its iconic grid pattern and octagonal blocks.
It’s dubbed as the trendiest neighborhood — home to streets of stylish boutiques and restaurants.
It’s impossible not to feel wonderstruck when you wander, most especially when you cross its main thoroughfare, Passeig de Gracia, and my favorite street: Rambla Catalunya.
Sunny days around Fira Gran Via
Every year, technology journalists from around the world convene in Barcelona to cover the annual Mobile World Congress.
This year, I was able to join other delegates from the Philippine press. The annual technology conference was set at Fira Barcelona Gran Via, a contemporary exhibition and trade center.
The majority of our days were spent in and out of this area, and I was lucky to experience sunny days around Fira Gran Via even in the middle of winter.
The sheer cold was balanced by the heat of the sun’s rays, allowing me to admire the district amidst the busy crowd.
A blend of architecture across Barcelona
Barcelona is home to towering pieces of architecture — contemporary, art nouveau, and historic landmarks blending in the beauty of the city.
These pieces of architecture stand the test of time; a wish we all make for the connections that we have in our lives.
In most explorations, I accompanied my friend Nathan as we dilly-dally around Barcelona, hoping to stumble upon undiscovered gems.
Unexpected beauty of Plaça Reial
Going past Mercado de La Boqueria, we found ourselves wandering La Rambla to get to the Gothic Quarter — the historic center of the old city of Barcelona — until we discovered Plaça Reial.
Believe me, I was only looking for a beautiful cafe so we can sit and sip some good coffee when we came across this paved square with towering palm trees.
I was astounded by its lampposts designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the man behind historical landmarks such as Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà.
Plaça Reial, in a way, reminded me of how love works. It catches you when you least expect it. A risk and a gamble. What’s waiting for you can end up being the best decision you ever make.
Now, it’s my favorite spot in the city of Barcelona, so far.
Midnights became my afternoon
With my companions, the city was alive and well by midnight.
I’m still reeling from the number of dinners I attended, filled with stories and new memories to bring home.
The highlight would probably be the old and new faces I met, and the shrieks of laughter passed in between.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities to stand in good spots, overlooking Barcelona from different destinations.
While I find myself in awe, I still took the time to be grateful for the beauty that unfolds in front of me.
Gratefully, I had the OPPO Find N2 Flip to capture the spectacles of Barcelona. It’s a city I didn’t expect to fall in love with. And a place I’d be glad to come back to in the future. Hopefully, with someone to hold hands with in the middle of winter.
All photos were taken using the OPPO Find N2 Flip.
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