Transportation in Korea

Transportation in Korea is just like any other foreign country where language is a barrier or the uncertainty that creeps in BUT once you get over that fear, it’s actually a pretty convenient place to be at. Fear not, at most just alight, spot nice looking people on street, smile while asking for directions and at this point, an ADDRESS to which area you’ll like to be at is VERY important (so always keep a name card of your hotel with you all the time), the last thing to do is to thank them. Who knows, you might meet extremely nice and helpful people who would even take the effort to go with you just in case you get lost.

Yes, we met very nice people and I’m thankful for that! So to the random strangers that we’ve asked for directions, YOU ROCK!

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There are a total of 4 different kinds of buses available in Korea that serves different purposes. Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. I’d check out what the actual differences between these coloured buses and post in another entry instead.

The width of the subway trains are larger as compared with what we have in Singapore or even those in Thailand. It allows commuters to stand in 2 rows yet have ample space for people to even walk pass thus making it easier for those who do move in and not hog the door ways.

But as all country it has it’s ‘fiercer’ people who does jolt their ways into the subway trains, so do keep a look out. Generally it really depends on which area you’re in. But do expect a little jostle – makes the trip more authentic right?

Taxis are generally expensive in Korea but if you’re travelling in a group + if the distance isn’t that far (of course you have to make your own calculation in terms of distance through maps), my advice is to just take the cab instead. The good thing about taking the taxi is that it saves a whole lot of time trying to ask for directions and which exit you’re supposedly to be at.

Koreans take their bicycles really seriously! I see bike riders on a daily basis (but I was shy to take a photo of them because some of them were cute looking people) on the streets, even on subway trains. You see them everywhere! Which is a good thing, SAVE THE EARTH!

On our way to Hongik or also known as Hongdae area in the bus! Take note at the 2:20 mark where the nice lady’s voice makes the announcement of which bus stop we’re at. I must commend Korea for having such a feature especially in a country where language and reading is a major problem to tourist. All you need is a pair of ears to listen out on which area you’ll like to be at and listen up.

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This concludes photos taken on film by the Olympus MJU II for the Korean trip to which the next post onwards would be solely digital shots from the Canon G10. I had fun shooting on film but I guess I have to be totally stocked up the next time I travel and I’ve also learnt to work with the camera.

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Daejeon 대전

Daejeon 대전 is quite like Seoul still filled with many shopping malls but I think it’s a little quieter as compared to the city. You must be wondering, why Daejeon? Well, we wanted to experience the KTX train ride (since I’ve never taken a bullet train per se) and with a time/price limitation, Daejeon was one of the safest choice. I wouldn’t say that it was a regret coming here instead of Busan, which was our original plan. But in some sense, I think we should have been a bit more brave to venture out (Definitely the next time round I visit Korea, I’d love to drop by Busan).

The only difference that I noticed is that the width of the subway train is smaller as compared with those in Seoul and people seemed to be nicer. Since we started the journey a little later than planned, we had to cut short our trip by merely exploring the city area instead of the outskirts which might take about an hour to reach. There is a Science Park since Daejeon is famous for it’s Science and Technology or Research universities especially like KAIST which I had to give it a miss, well, science and me doesn’t go quite well together. ^^

Not too bad for a short trip out of Seoul – had fun walking and exploring the streets for fun stuff. And I can finally say “I HAVE SAT IN A BULLET TRAIN…. WHEEEEEE!’

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Sights seen from the KTX train.

View from the Daejeon Station – even the air’s way nicer and the sky’s clearer than Seoul, which I think it’s a ++ point.

Excitement!!

KTX Korail Train.

My all time favourite shot of the trip – Introducing my Mom. :D

Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁

A quick continuation on my Korean travel – This is Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 which is one of the major attraction within Seoul itself. I had loads of fun exploring the interior and intricate designs at each ‘palace’. Mind you, the area is HUGE! Like really huge! And I didn’t even get to explore all of the different smaller palaces within this huge compound. I can only say people living during this era has got to have 1. Strong legs 2. Healthy heart 3. A WHOLE LOT OF PATIENCE!

If you have the stamina to walk all the way in, I believe that you can actually reach to the foot of the mountain? That’s what Mom said so and she was serious about really want to walk up THAT mountain! I almost had a heart attack!! Hmm, but correct me if I’m wrong about Gyeongbokgung Palace being connected to that mountain?

This is one of the reason why I love Korea too – how this amazing country can fuse modern vs old together and they seem to work well. In Singapore, our town area is usually filled with only modern architectures which is why I think I had lots of fun exploring Korea too. Made myself lookout for interesting stuff instead of taking things for granted.

Jongno 5-ga (종로5가역)

Jongno 5-ga (종로5가역) was the area that I stayed in during my trip to Korea. I personally liked how oldish the area was, filled with mostly pharmacies (like tons of them, so fear not if you’re not feeling that well), loads of food eateries to choose from, and I mean LOADS to eat from. But not all is old, there are also a handful of cafes located around.

It’s also conveniently (might take about ~10-15 minutes to walk, 5 minutes if you’re taking the bus and less than 5 if you’re in a cab) near shopping areas like Dongdaemun which has loads of malls for you to shop NON-STOP + till the wee hours in the morning (they practically close at 5AM).

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Gwangjang Market (광장시장) – I totally adore and I think I can spend up to days just exploring the area. It’s quite an underrated market which I think it has lots to offer. I’d go into details in another post with more photos from the digital camera.

On weekends where most of the shops are closed – this area might seemed like a ‘dead town’ but I love how quiet and calm it is in comparison of the bustling city of Seoul (Dongdaemun, Myeongdong).

The stretch that we walk in/out daily from our hotel. On a Monday – Friday basis, this place is basically filled with human traffic all day long because of the eateries and noraebangs that are located within this whole stretch + there are loads of offices around this area.  You’ll never get hungry when you stay in Jongno-5 ga other than the weekends which most of these places are closed.

Lock/Key smith shop with very nice Korean Typography.

The front of a convenience store with the nicest ahjussi who was always smiling. Our daily trips to his mart (that sells basically everything) left us becoming friends and we started talking about how fun Korea is – though at some point he begs to differ. I guess it’s definitely different when your agenda of visiting a country as a tourist vs a permanent stayer.

Concrete Sights

Seoul’s a pretty cosmopolitan country filled with many buildings which is pretty much like Singapore – not a good/bad thing. But it seems like the buildings in Korea are more structured – ❏❐❑❒. Maybe it’s just my illusion but I don’t seem to spot any round buildings? Have you?

Let’s play “Spot WALLY”.

Clear skies + geometric building @ Daejoon Station; Korea.

My daily scene while waiting at the bus-stop at the main road of our hotel. I’ve always watched Korean shows with the scene of the actors/actresses heading up to the rooftop to chill/chat – which leaves me wondering what’s up in such roofs?

Seoul x Night

Korea in general is a country filled with many night scenes even on a weekday which I think it’s awesome. It keeps me wondering, don’t these people need to sleep and work the very next day? It’s a daily scene where you’ll see working adults hang out till late drinking + feasting on BBQ meat all night long and then they will end up heading to a Noraebang (Karaoke joint) to sing their hearts out. Maybe I should compile a TOP 10 things you will see in Korea real soon. This is Part 2 of my Korea Travel Adventure which I’m still slowly but surely updating on, do drop by soon. If you’re interested, here’s Part 1, which is a simple update.

Night view from a high peek at Namsan Tower. It’s amazing to see the whole landscape of Korea from this view.

Bus rides were VERY fun! Though most bus drivers drove like it was the Formula 1 race! *gulps* I had to hold on TIGHT just in case I ended up on the floor. Plus because of the awesome weather (which I CANNOT stop raving about), NO A/C is needed – natural cooling air comes right in with windows open. *thumbs up*

I could sit in a bus and get whizz around all night long. Seoul is a very colourful place which I LIKE! It’s like a huge canvas of colours everytime you sit and stare and something. Ps, I’d update with more bus rides experience.

Caffe Bene (카페베네) is like the fastest expending coffee joint in Korea. Like you’ll spot it in almost every other street away. Maybe because it has like ‘celebrity endorsement’ like a famous drama show ‘Secret Garden’. But let me warn you, it’s not really a ‘pocket/wallet’ friendly cafe for drinks/food but maybe what you’re paying is the ambience.

Coffee wise, I think they are different from what we have in Singapore – their taste is pretty weak unlike our Kopi-GAO. Most coffee in Korea taste weak unless you tell your barista that you want something ‘stronger’ thus the extra shot or two.

From what I heard it’s because most coffee joints serves pastries and they do not want the taste of each to over power one another. How true is this? Any Koreans would like to enlighten me on this?

Words of squares x boxes x circles.

Breathe in Breathe Out

Just got back 2 rolls of film from my recent trip to Korea and here’s the first post. I assure you it’ll be one of the many more post to come along which I am excited about! I’d let the images do the ‘talking’…

Maybe it’s because it’s Spring time when I visited Korea, most of the tress were either lusciously green but without any flowers or they were entirely bare which made the trees look ‘skinny’. During the day time, it was mostly sunny but with good wind and in a range of 18’C – 20’C. While the nights were as cold as 12’C – 15’C. Even as I type this, I’m already beginning to miss the awesome weather of Korea. Please teleport the weather over to Singapore or better still teleport me OVER to Korea now.

*Ps the first 3 images were taken with an older Solaris 400 film that was in the camera for about a year old while the other was a fresh new film used. And I noticed that my Olympus Mju ii has this light ring at the side of some of my images, can anyone enlighten me as to why is that happening? Thanks!!