I assumed that I have watched enough K-dramas that I would be able to survive there. I thought having used to listening to Korean songs would be an advantage.
But not. Definitely not.
As you might know, I recently traveled to South Korea in March. Talk about spine-chilling surrounding plus it was the end of winter. Haha, no regrets though. Surprisingly, I liked it.
For now, let’s begin with the typical first day. The one of a kind excitement you can’t help but to show it to others. No worries, I am just like you. I took selfies – acting cool all the time – and I just couldn’t resist my affinity in observing people. Should I knew the surrounding was intriguing, I would have brought my DSLR. In fact, little did I expect from Korea – I only expect the joy of being in the same time zone with my idols. Nothing more.
March 9, 2014 – 2200 hrs
Since the guesthouse I’ve booked was just near the Busan Station, my friends and I happily wandered around the train station – killing some time to get used to the surrounding, and FYI, the temperature was negative at that time. HAH, no wonder none of the selfies I captured were beautiful enough, guess whose hands trembled? 😀
Travelling around Korea by public transport requires T-Money card. You know the tapping thingy? Tap-and-you-pass. And that T-Money needs to be reloaded with money. Where to reload? Obviously, that was the question of that day! After a few minutes, I spotted a bright yellow signboard of a convenience store and I proudly boast to myself that the time has come for me to apply my so-called basic Korean language. It’s showtime! Ok, maybe not.
And guess what? I spent almost 20 minutes talking to the cashier (he’s cute btw)! And no, not Korean language all the way. It was a mixture of Korean + English + body language + telepathy (I failed it). It was a pitiful wreck. HAHA I felt ridiculously annoying to not being able to convey the term “reload T-Money” to that cashier. It later turned out to be tiring until I was on the verge of giving up. But then, came the saviour! Indeed, the cashier was the best. He took out his smartphone and later browsed Google translate! Smart, isn’t he? And the night ended happily.
March 17, 2014 – 0100 hrs
Since we were departing to KL from Busan, we took an overnight KTX train from Seoul – and I wasn’t impressed at all. It was undeniably fast, saves time but I had a hard time sleeping – thanks to the small legroom. I personally prefer the Mugunghwa train– wider legroom and amazingly cheap. Long story cut short, we arrived at Busan at 1 am. The lights were still on at the station, but we felt insecure. I suggested to just wait there since the subway heading to the airport only operates at 6 am. But majority won. We decided to hire a cab to the airport. Little did I know that the horror had just begun.
It was me who talked to the taxi driver. I had to pretend that I understood, haha I even tried Busan accent! – I felt incredibly stupid and at the same time sorry. From the start, I could sense my instinct telling me that things weren’t to work out well that cold night. Did I tell you that I am intuitive? The ride took us 40 minutes and woah the road was totally clear! And then there was a strange oldies song playing on the radio.
Later, the signboard directing to the airport were in sight. Finally, let’s go back home, I thought. The surrounding was pretty dark and there were no signs of aircrafts landing/departing at that very hour. Weird. Yes, the airport was closed. It was 0245 hrs. Screw you airport. Stopping at the main entrance, the taxi driver went outside only to find several guards telling him to leave. And I was there too. I tried to work out a few Korean phrases but hell no, it was a mess. I later returned to the cab fuming. Money were wasted, and so does time! Most importantly, our safety. Some badass thieves could appear from nowhere and rob us and maybe hurt us.
But thankfully, the ahjushi was indeed our hero at that moment. He knew that he had to ensure our safety. And after a few minutes of discussion (not really, I talked less), he kindly dropped us at a 24-hours café which looked safe enough for us to spend a few hours there. And luckily, it was perfectly situated near a subway station which is heading the same way to the airport. May God bless you ahjushi.
My final words would be brace yourselves for those mind-boggling moments which will drive you crazy. Trust me, travelling is all about exploring beautiful things outside your comfort zone. And yes, there will be tough moments – delays, money loss, scams, bad weathers, stalkers, etc – But always bear in mind, beautiful things exist too – great locals, scrumptious cuisines, scenic nature views – but often not much appreciated. All you need is a tinge of courage to brave the road and perhaps a Lonely Planet guidebook? 😀
And one thing, language barrier sucks. Go learn their national language unless you feel like communicating using sign language. Definitely, no regrets. You’ll thank me.