The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.
Here’s the story. My friends and I didn’t hire a tour guide for our trip to South Korea. We only took subways, and for most destinations, we only used our very, very abused feet to get there. Riding the subway was not that much of a problem because by Day 2, we were already accustomed to the subway system. It is crucial to remember the important stations, especially the landmarks.
The struggle for me actually was to find which was North, South, East, and West. But there were also lots of helpful locals who were gracious to help us lost puppies.
Day One: Riding the KoRail from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station
Our itinerary for Day 2 was Trickeye Museum in the morning, Everland in the afternoon. The trip to Hongdae for the museum was a success, but the second one was an epic failure. According to my research, the bus station going to Everland can be found in Seoul Station. What I didn’t know was that the bus routes have changed. And as complicated the subway system was, the bus system is much, much, much more mind boggling.
One of my friends wanted to stop by a nearby mall to buy something his boss asked him to buy. God knows how far we have walked, and we never reached the mall. It was raining, and the temperature dropped to around 4 degrees celsius. We went to a market, I think it was Nandaemun, which was like, gazillion blocks away from the station. For the sake of not going home empty-handed, we settled for a random camera store. My other friend and I were so hungry, and we were already starting to plot murder against the other one. Heehee. Just kidding.
Traditional Court Cake
We were able to experience native Korean delicacies in Nandaemun Market, including the Court Cake above. I’m not sure if it’s really called Court Cake, but it’s what’s written on the box. What amazed us is the fact that the employees speak fluent English, Japanese, even Filipino. They told us that part of their training is to learn ten different languages because they get a lot of foreigners as customers. Watching them create their product and explain it in different languages is truly fascinating. We bought ten boxes with different flavors.
We got to ride the shuttle bus at around 5:00 PM. We knew that we won’t be able to enjoy Everland, with us having only one hour to roam around the park, but might as well just get it over with. What we didn’t know again was that the travel time was approximately 2-3 hours. The park closes at 8PM. We were already half-way when we realized that we will never make it. It was too late to go back. The place is located at a distant province, I won’t be surprised if it was actually situated in a mountain.
Bus ride to Everland, with the culprit in front, me in the middle, and my other friend at the third seat :)
While in the bus, a fellow Filipino approached my guy friend. I forgot his name, but he shared his story to us. He’s actually staying there illegally. Once, he was deported when he got caught. After two years, he was able to go back but he had to change his name in order to do that. I don’t know how he did it. Anyway, the guy was nice enough to help us find a bus back going to Seoul. Apparently, it takes 2-3 hours from Seoul to the Everland Bus Station. What we didn’t know for the nth time was that the Everland Bus Station isn’t exactly where Everland is located. You have to ride another bus to go to the actual Everland Amusement Park, which is inside a village. We didn’t even get to see even just a shadow of the rides.
It was so cold, freaking cold. We were shivering even though it wasn’t raining anymore. It didn’t help that we were starving, and that the bus going to Jamsil took forever to arrive. When we were finally settled inside the bus, we were just plain knocked out. We woke up and voila! We were already in Seoul. How come it took only an hour from Everland to Seoul, yet it took us nearly three hours from Seoul to Everland? The universe played a game on us. Ha-ha.
We were not able to see our desired Everland, and it was somehow frustrating. But despite this setback, we were able to see the streets of Seoul in a different way, something other tourists are not able to experience. On our last day, we passed by the same main road where we crossed going to Nandaemun, and guess what? The mall we were looking for was actually just around the corner. If we turned left, we would have found it. Unfortunately, we turned right when we were there. My friends and I just laughed it off.
We never went back. We just decided to go to Lotte World, which was also a fun experience sans the hassle of riding a bus.
Honestly, I’d rather get lost with my friends anytime than be lost alone.