Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 18th

On the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon (Seoul) I went to the toilet as breakfast was being was being doled out and almost missed out. Quite difficult to get the atention of any hostess at that stage. Wasn't really worth the effort as the teriyaki fish was not too tasty. Overall, service on this flight was much better than the one to Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps it had something to do with the cute Korean hostesses.

I have noticed that Koreans rush to the gate in the departure lounge whenever an announcement is made is English. I'm sure that their excuse is that they don't understand but it is more like they don't listen. Same thing happens in Korea but the message is in Korean then. Not that they would've been able to understand the Malaysian guy anyway as I had great difficulty.

During the landing I noticed lots of people playing golf at Incheon Golf Club - it's only 3 degrees C. Immigration don't muck around but were more than a little surprised that I could write in hangul (Korean script). My favourite hostie, Nam Ji-na, had asked me if I lived in Korea. Obviously impressed with my grasp of Korean. [Editor's note - Stop fooling yourself boy. She was just being polite.]

Golf courses everywhere. Taxi driver waiting at the airport covered one nostril and blew heaps out of the other. It is time to introduce the "snot rag" to Koreans.

Incheon Airport Tollway. Busy place.

They have seatbelts in the bus now. Don't want any bad publicity to keep the tourists away I suppose. Korean bus drivers are notoriously bad. Took a Limousine bus ride to Central City Station which wasn't without incident. We nearly hit some bloke who cut in and the horn was sounded a few times to tell him so. Everybody on the bus, who were trying to sleep, sat bolt upright to see what the fuss was about. Helpful security guy in the Central City Market helped me with directions and another guy coming down the stairs asked where I was going and showed me to the ticket office in the subway station.

Build 'em big and beautiful here in Korea.

The zipper broke on the handle cover of the suitcase. Typical. Koreans need to install elevators for those of us who have to carry 21.1 kgs of luggage up all of the stairs, not including my carry-on luggage. I found the Nambu Bus Terminal ok. Bought some fish cakes and water without too much hassle. Only fifteen minutes to eat before my bus departed - just enough time. Delicious.

Nambu Bus Terminal.

Lunch - o deng.

Bought the wrong ticket as I tried to explain to the ticket girl, I think she was talking about fast bus or not, and I said "five hours" so she gave me a ticket for 16:30 - obviously thought that five hours translated to five o'clock. Got another ticket for the 12:30 bus. Rang Miky - still the wrong ticket. An express limousine bus left at 11:00. Got the correct ticket ok.

Apartments as far as the eye can see.

Korean rest stop. Big, isn't it?

First stop for a rest and the bus driver came back to me, grabbed my watch, and said "Sam ship o bun" - 45 minutes. Meaning at 12:45 the bus would be leaving if I wanted to stretch my legs or go to the toilet. I hadn't planned to but it was a good idea.

Construction is full steam ahead in this country.

The phenomenal amount of apartments being built make me think that if China is pushing world growth then it must be an incredible sight over there.

Speedy Gonzales the bus driver.

My driver sits on 115-120 km/h on the Expressway although the speed limit is 100 km/h for cars under 1.5 tonnes and 80 km/h for vehicles heavier than 1.5 tonnes. Every kilometre or so there is a police radar and he slows down to 110 km/h. The number of vehicles that fly past at 140-160 km/h is quite surprising. They slam on the brakes when the police enforcement area appears only to zoom past again. Pretty damn pointless I say.

Watch out for that hole in the mountain ahead Mr Bus Driver.

Bus driver was a bit casual in my opinion. He didn't wear gloves, was speeding the whole way, spent a bit of time of his mobile phone and saluted other bus drivers in passing - even if his other hand was occupied with the mobile phone!

Fuel is 1479 Won - approximately A$1.90/L. There is a huge amount of roadworks going on. One tunnel that we travelled through was 3.5 km long. I already feel more relaxed in this country and can leave my bag on the bus while I stretch my legs and not worry about it getting pinched.

Welcoming party.

Great to be greeted by Miky and Yu-Jin after my five and a quarter hour bus ride. Miky looked great and Yu-Jin has grown taller. Straight outside of the bus station I spotted two foreign women - thought that I would be the only foreigner in these parts.

We went to the yeogwan (cheap establishment that passes as a hotel) so that Yu-Jin could get changed into his taekwondo gear and caught a taxi to the taekwondo class. Some of the kids are very disciplined although there was a kid with a red belt who looked as though he had no idea. I was a little disappointed that Yu-Jin couldn't do all of the exercses like the other kids but he is one of the youngest. He did some quite well though. Videoed a lot and my battery went flat. Just before I could get a photo of Yu-Jin with his sang sam nim (teacher). Dammit.

Yu-Jin's taekwondo class.

Caught a taxi back into the city and shared it. The taxi driver didn't appear to know where he was going and didn't give the right change - bastard. Had BBQ pork for tea which was delicious. Damn cold at night time when just walking around. The bath at the yeogwan was too small for myself and I had to share it with Yu-Jin. Damn these Koreans for being such short people.

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