When I arrived in Korea, it was subtly suggested by my then Hakwon director, well meaning though it may have been, that the bus would suit me best. I wondered what he meant. I took offense to it because I believed that I should not be dissuaded from making any decision. Self determination is the order of the day around these parts. Anywho, I followed his suggestion, rode the bus and made my way to Pohang where I worked and lived for two years. No Biggie!
Fast forward to this past weekend when it was suggested again that I take the bus — another suggestion I followed. This time I wasn’t eager to take the train, so I didn’t feel that I was being dissuaded. Although, the KTX (Korean Train Express), would save me time, it is always the more expensive option. I prefer it though.
After following the suggestion, I arrived in Iksan at an unfamiliar part from which I was not able to call or even hail a taxi easily. The taxi service was not helpful either. They weren’t familiar with the area it seemed. My Korean not being sufficient for their likes the call service operator requested that she speak with a Korean at a local business. I suppose she wanted to verify my location and check that I would not request a taxi and then bail. From where I was calling it seemed that few taxis traveled their regularly. Sketchy may describe the area best. Dilapidated buildings. Closed restaurants. Not many signs of life outside the gas station where service attendants waited. Bleak. Lonely. Run down.
I would not have taken the bus were it not for these suggestions.
I learned where the airport limousine bus drops people off in my city, Iksan. I learned that it is a great distance from the university and quite far from the train station and the other bus station at which I was dropped in the past. Thus, I will never ride the airport limousine bus again. All in all, it is useless. I got a ride from my colleague who when I asked if he could pick me up, obliged. He told me one of our colleagues was told to take that bus too upon his first arrival to Korea — an awful suggestion. He’s a white male so I am less offended by the suggestion that traveling by bus suits me. It seems a little misguided to assume that taking a bus will always be cheaper. Had my colleague not picked me up I would have had to take a taxi costing about twenty dollars to get to my destination. Compared with the train, I would have been better off forgoing that extra taxi ride by paying a slightly more expensive train ticket.
I will continue to ride the train. Or take the bus that arrives at the terminal. I know for the next time. In the mean time, miss me with your suggestions.