Tuesday, June 7

Trains, Taxis, and Busses: Our unexpected tour of Korea

Yay! Almost to the beach...or so we thought
We had a long weekend, thanks to Monday being Korea's Memorial day, and Leigh and I's original plan was to attend his friend Grace's birthday party on a west coast beach.  They'd rented pensions and we were excited to spend some time on the west coast.  Little did we know, we would learn all the holes in Korea's public transportation.  Ironic, considering how my last post was complimenting the transit system.
What followed was a 10 hour tour around Korea via trains, taxis, and busses.

The day in review: We woke up a little later than we expected on Saturday, rushed to Gyeongju and caught the KTX (which is the fast as lightning train that goes around 300 km an hour!).  2 quick hours later we arrived in Daejeon.  We called our friends to get directions to the pensions, which were only about 60 km away.  We took a taxi to the bus station and Leigh bought us tickets to "SAEchon".
Proof we were in Daejeon

He's typically the navigator since he's been here longer, knows more Korean than I do, AND I'm severely directionally challenged, and usually it works out perfectly BUT...this time it didn't.  3 hours later, still on our bus ride to what we thought was Saechon, we knew something was wrong.  We tried desperately to read any signs the bus passed, we used Leigh's smartphone to Googlemaps where we were - then we realized that we had just completely negated the KTX train ride we came up on, and had now driven 3 hours SOUTH coming close to where we started this ordeal, but not close enough to get home. The bus has made a few short stops, but we hadn't even noticed that they were real stops. Apparently "SOEchon" was one of those stops. This is the point we realized that we, ahem I mean Leigh, had made a tiny pronunciation error that resulted in us getting on the SOEcheon bus rather than the SAEchon bus. The bus's last stop was Tongyeong.  At this point we've invested $62 each for first class KTX tickets and $14 each for the bus ride, we've spent quite a bit of money and been riding around for 8 hours. We were laughing and trying to make the best of it.  We'd already spent too much money to try to get to the birthday party on the west coast and we decided we might as well explore Tongyeong. The first thing we needed to do was secure a place to sleep for the night. We tried 2 taxis and at the mention of motels, they yelled at us like we'd said a bad word.  We were a little confused and fearful at the idea of not having a place to sleep for the night.  So, at that point, we knew we had to leave.  We hopped on the last bus to Busan, where our friends Mary and Tyler live, and we knew a Sand Festival was going on.  We got in to Busan at around 11:45pm - tried to catch the subway, but had missed that.  So, we found a place to sleep for the night, and considered the day a complete wash :) We kept our moods in check all day, and managed to not bite each other's heads off, and even learned a thing or 2 like: the importance of showing the bus cashier the Korean word for your desired destination! :) Next post will include how the rest of our weekend turned out in Busan :)

Making friends at the KTX Statio

Thanks for Reading! Em

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