Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 30th

Early start to the day as we had an 8 o'clock bus to catch. Wendy got up before we left but Alice was still asleep. I had bought breakfast just after 7am and we managed to get to the bus station with minutes to spare. Then I couldn't find any tickets! The ones that I bought yesterday upon arrival so that there would be no trouble getting back to Busan and everything would be organised nicely for smooth sailing. You know, those tickets. Panic set in and I got to the stage where I decided to buy the tickets again and as I made my way to the ticket office I saw the ticket lady waving a ticket to somebody else and I remembered that I had left the tickets in my diary. Crisis averted.

Just over the 50 minute mark for the trip to Busan. The bus driver wanted to shake Yu-Jin's hand as he got off. I couldn't believe that there were only three adults and one child on the bus - total fares of 14000 Won - that's as much as the bus pays to use the Expressway alone. Yu-Jin counted 67 trucks that we passed, on our side of the Expressway, but there were quite a few that he missed. He's suddenly picked up this thing about counting. The other day he asked me how many people in the world and when I replied, "six billion" he wanted to count up to six billion.

That's what I call a bus terminal.

It was relaxing to catch the subway at Nopodong as it is the terminus and no-one was on the train. No need to try to find a seat or have to stand. Nobody trying to sell us anything either, at the moment. Saw an add for a bank inside the train and it was in Korean, Chinese, English and Russian.

Out of the subway station in Busan we took the wrong exit, had walked down to one end of the station, and I was beginning to think that maybe we had alighted at the wrong station. Kept walking until I noticed Eun-jeong's apartment. Eun-jeong bought tickets online, to get herself some reward points, for the slow train to Seoul which was to take a tick under five and a half hours. She then gave us a ride to the station to see us off and help us with our mountain of luggage.

Busan station was very busy. So busy in fact that you could only enter the platform within 15 minutes of your train departing. That's fairly well organised but I guess these Koreans know how to deal with large numbers of people. The station wasn't too friendly for foreigners-with-too-much-baggage, I must say.

Nearly five and a half hours of nothing to do. Played knuckles with Yu-Jin after his two and a half hours sleep. He loves the game, a little bit too much. Saw a few burial mounds near the railway line and a few KTX trains fly past. We stopped at Seoul Station to change trains and for a toilet break. Yu-Jin went to the toilet first so that I could hold his jacket and then I went but while he was waiting for me some guy wanted to put his jumper on and gave his jacket to Yu-Jin to hold. When we walked out of the toilet the man gave Yu-Jin 1000 Won and I didn't have a clue what was going on as I hadn't seen any of it. Just a tad worrying at the time until Yu-Jin explained the situation.

With great difficulty, and the kind help of a fellow commuter, we managed to get our luggage down the stairs at Doksan Station. Then the first taxi driver refused to take us but the next guy did. Finding Miky's friend's apartment wasn't easy as it was dark and all the apartments look the same. Got the driver to drop us off. Wandered around and asked a few people without much success. Apartment no. 1017 was not near 1015 or 1016 but near 1103. Don't ask me why.

Nice to see Young-in, Jeong-yoon and Seong-hoon again. Went out for tea and the restaurant was so beautifully decorated with artwork it was amazing. The owner was an artist and he had many collected works - masks, figurines, clocks (Victoria Station), paintings, statues, etc. Ventured to Outlet2001 to get some snacks for the kids and then bakery products. Young-in is looking much healthier than last time we saw her (had a newborn back then) and she doesn't have a Seoul accent but her son, Seong-hoon, sure does. Not sure about Jeong-yoon's accent. We plan to take the kids to Seoul Land on Saturday. Bit of a late night with much talking after Young-in's husband, Gi-young, came home.

Young-in, Gi-young (back row), Yu-Jin, Seong-hoon, Jeong-yoon, Miky (front row)

The Men.

Real kim chee.

View from apartment, sans snow.

View from apartment, sans snow.

View from apartment, sans snow.

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