Arriving in Korea might have meant I was out of the sky and back on land, but walking through the airport arrivals lounge I could’ve sworn I was walking on air! I collected my luggage (coincidentally from the same luggage carousel as on my first trip) and wandered off to find somewhere I could wash up. After getting a little bit lost in the three floors of arrivals, and failing to find the showers that the kind lady on the information desk directed me to, I locked myself in a disabled toilet and managed to somehow wash up and change my clothes…only to walk past the showers twenty seconds after leaving the toilets. Doh!
All freshened up and dress appropriately for the muggy Seoul summer weather, I went to the station to take the train into the city. There were two trains I could take; the airport express train which goes direct to Seoul Station, or the all-stop train which takes a little longer but is about half the price. I know this now, but on arriving at the station I had no idea there were two different types of trains available to get into Seoul, so I walked up to the first ticket machine I saw and bought a ticket to Seoul Station. It turns out I bought the ticket for the all-stop train and after a few minutes of freaking out about how long it would take and then finding out that it’s only about 20 minutes longer than the direct train (and half the price!) I went down to the platform and parked myself on a seat for the 1 hour journey.
Once at Seoul Station, I had to walk for a little bit and ask for some help from a station employee to find the main train lines, but eventually got to the main concourse. It’s a large place, but not very confusing. I had already booked my train to Busan online about a week or two before I left for my trip, so I took my passport and my booking confirmation to the ticket desk and collected my train ticket. It was really simple and easy and didn’t even need to worry about talking all that much because they knew exactly what I was there for. I then stopped at a convenience store (hello Chilsung Cider, my old friend), got some food (hello Lotteria, my old friend that I realised I’m not such a huge fan of or maybe it was just that one burger that wasn’t up to standards, I’m not sure) and sat down on my suitcase in front of the train departures board waiting for my platform to be called.
When my platform was announced, I headed down to wait for the train to arrive. It didn’t take log for it to get there, and when it did I was right in front of the correct door to my carriage thanks to the handy signs on the platforms marking where you should wait for each carriage on each different type of train (there are three types). I got on, found my seat and a space for my suitcase, and only then did I decide to check with the conductor that I was indeed on the right train. I was! So I popped myself down in my seat and settled in for the five hour journey to Busan. I took the mugunghwa (the slow train) which is why my journey was so long, but it was half the price of the KTX (the fast train) and it arrived at a convenient time for Brittany to come and meet me so I figured it wasn’t that bad! It was relatively comfortable and well air-conditioned so I was pretty happy, but I was in an aisle seat and it was a little annoying to keep getting up to let my changing neighbours out. I’ve realised that Koreans are stickers for keeping to the assigned seat on their ticket – when we were two stations away from my stop there were very few people in my carriage thus lots of empty seats, but a man got on and woke me up so he could sit down in the seat next to mine. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed! But we soon arrived at station after getting a great view of Busan at night while crossing into the city!
After arriving at Gupo station, I got a taxi to Hwamyeong, Brittany‘s neighbourhood and wandered around trying to find some free wifi to contact her. I got a message through from her telling me to go to Paris Baguette (a popular café chain) and she will meet me later, so I went, and as I turned around after ordering a drink I saw her standing at the café door. I abandoned my suitcase in the middle of the walkway and ran to her, as she ran to me, and everything was right with the world. Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was so incredibly good to see my best friend again after so long apart!
This is a post in my South Korea Second-Timer series. Read the others here!
My Holiday Bucket List
Part 1: Plane Panic and, um, Personal Space Please?
Part 3: Hwamyeong, a Temple and Being Spend Happy
Haedong Yonggungsa 해동용궁사 – The Water Temple
Beomeosa 범어사 – Temple of the Nirvana Fish
Gamecheon Culture Village 부산 감천문화마을
Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁