I made it back to Seoul on Saturday! I had plans to do something else this weekend, but they were cancelled. I woke up Saturday morning deciding to stay in, but I suddenly thought I should go to Seoul! Of course I was not 100% sure how I would get there, but I remembered what are told me which was “the worst thing that could happen would be for me to get lost and if that happens all I have to do is call a taxi to take me somewhere I know.” I don’t know how I suddenly got so brave.
In 30 minutes I was out the door and soon taking the city bus to the Iksan Bus Terminal. This bus terminal allows for people to travel outside of Iksan to Seoul or Daegu or Busan or even smaller cities nearby like Gunsan (where I went last weekend). Once I arrived there, things got tricky. There is a special place in the building just for buses to Seoul and I wasn’t exactly sure where that was. Luckily I paid attention to the signs and found my way. It was almost too easy and in a few minutes I was on the bus.
I was so so proud of myself I took pictures of my accomplishment haha! When you are in another country, the little victories make you smile.
It was a more than 3 hour bus ride and a little traffic made it a little longer. And then I was at the Express Bus Terminal subway station in Seoul. I had forgotten how crowded Seoul was I tried my best to navigate through the crowd and head to the transfer line that would take me to Myeongdong (a big shopping area in Seoul).
Taking the subway, I was literally pushed onto the train and we were packed in so tight there was no need to worry about falling or even moving. I had to push my way out when it was my turn to get off.
Soon I was in Myeongdong! This was the first thing I saw when I came out of the exit. Not sure who these characters are.
Anyway I went shopping. I bought some socks, a backpack, 2 skirts and 2 shirts. I think I did well, but being a cheap person, I feel maybe I spent too much… Oh well. I won’t be shopping for awhile!
Then I went to Anam where my old school is, where I studied abroad; Korea Univeristy. I was thinking I would be able to meet a friend there because she was at a seminar. I waited for her in a shop where you can buy snacks and eat, but it was getting late and my phone was dying. And I got kicked out of the shop so I wasn’t able to meet her. Next time when I actually plan out what to do it will go better.
I made my way back to the Express Bus Terminal arriving at around 8:30pm and totally overwhelmed by all the people once again and also a little confused about where to go and how to buy my bus ticket home. But one really great thing about Korea is that the people are pretty friendly.
I’m wondering around the terminal not sure exactly which ticket booth counter to go to when an older Korean man steps away from his 2 friends and comes up to me. He asks where I’m going in Korean. I say Iksan and he points me to a ticket booth counter. He even points me to another line when the first line moves too slow haha. I get my ticket. The earliest departure is at 10:10pm. Pretty late, but I take it. Then the older men again ask me where my gate is. I show them the ticket and they point me to the right gate. They were so helpful. And they just seemed to be standing around doing nothing as if their job is to help confused foreigners. Gotta love Korea!
I waited for the bus. My phone died right before I boarded. I really felt like I was on an adventure then! I slept on the bus and when I woke up we were in Iksan. In 2 hours! Getting to Seoul took over 3 hours. We made 2 stops (which confused me) before we came to the final stop at the Iksan Bus Terminal. Now during the day I would take a city bus closer to home, but it was a little after midnight and I knew the buses stopped running so I would have to *gulp* take a taxi!
Feeling indecisive about what to do and how to approach this situation I hesitated and then finally took the 3rd taxi I saw.
I asked him to take me to my apartment and once he seemed to understand I got in. There was a bit of confusion during the drive. I think maybe he was unsure how to get there or didn’t know exactly where my apartment was so I had to really try my hardest to use my terrible Korean skills and communicate to him that my apartment was near a popular store in Korea, Homeplus. I even said taking me to that store would be fine. But he was able to understand and find the apartment. Again I felt really proud of myself. I paid him and thanked him so many times and walked into my apartment before 1am. Wow such a long and adventurous day. I really feel like I’m getting used to this place.