Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vacation Pt. 3: Wrapping Up The Cross-Province Shuffle

The new school semester began on Thursday, 16 August.

The summer vacation lasted from 6 to 15 August altogether. EPIK teachers usually get shorter summer breaks and longer winter ones, though 9 days off proved good enough for a break from school.

The Gangneung trip may have been dampened by rain, but it and the rest of the vacation went down quite well. Rochelle and I enjoyed the scenery around the province of Gangwon and she said she'd like to come back to the coast before the year's out. Good plan. It'll happen sooner or later, for we've got until the middle of October before the weather starts getting cooler. Surely we can get some beach action before too long. We still have to get to Ojukheon as well, for that's a lovely historical site. The museum's good, too.

Also, I never did finish writing Daejeon and what went on out there. I was there from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon--the plans originally called for staying until Friday, but I left early and went back to Seoul. This means I never made it to the Science Park and didn't do the city tour either. A few things factored into the choosing to leave early:
  • Troubles with the motel room: the refrigerator and the water cooler wouldn't stop leaking water on the floor after a day. I'd tried mopping the water with a towel, but it didn't work because the water kept coming. Putting a bowl under the cabinet the refrigerator and the water cooler didn't help either because the incessant dripping got irritating. I told the manager about it and he moved me into a different room, which was great, except for one thing: the new room had a computer that didn't work in it. No computer = no Internet. The place didn't have wi-fi either. Asking about a different room didn't help either; either the place didn't have one or they wouldn't give it up. 
  • Lack of motivation to see the Science Park. I know: I came to Daejeon to see it and to wander around the city. It didn't seem like it was worth going to after a while though. I did make it as far as taking the subway to the necessary bus stop though.  
  • Feeling distracted. Maybe it was because I not only went there to wander, but also to relax, play guitar, and get ready for the upcoming semester. And both things did happen to some extent. Walking the streets felt great and so did playing the guitar and looking up bands and songs mentioned in the book London's Burning. Nonetheless, I kept thinking that the trip was only a stopgap before the Gangneung trip because that trip weighed more on my mind than Daejeon ever did.
  • Feeling out of place in a strange and new city. Normally exploring new places equals excitement and good times but that idea didn't hold as much sway in Daejeon. Going there alone seemed especially exciting because I'd never done something like that before--hell, I'd never been completely alone in any new city for more than 12 hours (aside from the long Chuseok weekend last year in Wasu) before going there. The solitude seemed exciting, and for a while, it was--and then the excitement turned to loneliness. Maybe some more practice is needed at this stuff, but a day and a half seemed like more than enough time alone. People were around everywhere but it wasn't the same as being among friends.
In spite of not feeling like doing much there, I wonder if Daejeon didn't get a fair shake, especially when it has some good stuff going for it. It is well laid out: it's laid out like a grid and the side streets don't twist and turn like Seoul's does. It looks like any other Western-style city: wide main streets lined with trees, big sidewalks, storefronts, narrower side streets, parks scattered about. It's also flat and spacious--Seoul's the biggest city in the country, but its topography makes for some cozy neighborhoods and the Han river and various canals section different parts off well. Daejeon goes in the other direction: I never got the sense I was in a distinct neighborhood so much as I was in the western part of the city. The cab ride from the big, yet bright and inviting* Express Bus Terminal across town to the motel confirmed this: Daejeon loudly presents itself as a major transportation hub with its wide roads and numerous under and over-passes.

Here're some pictures of the city:

Some of Daejeon's mile-wide boulevards. They're great for traffic and not so great for crossing on foot.
Taken near the bus stop that gets you to the Science Park. I went to the nearby E-Mart instead.

The Yuseong Stream (Yuseongcheon) near the motel. The biking and walking path looked good.

The spillage.
Above: shots of the Cityone Motel. It's less than 3 blocks from the Yuseong Oncheon Subway Station. The room cost $142.66 for 3 nights. The money got paid in advance and there was no partial refund for leaving a day early.

Not quite sure what the balcony's purpose was because it seemed like it was only good for looking out of the window. It didn't have any chairs and even if it did, the windows didn't come down far enough for anyone to sit down and look outside.

Will Daejeon get another visit? Sure. Will the Cityone Motel? Probably not. It boasts quick access to a bus station (but not the Express one) and it lies near a subway stop for the popular Yuseong hot springs, but the good rooms were marred by leaky equipment. The service was fine though. The managers spoke some English and were friendly as well.

*Indeed it was! Unlike Seoul's overcrowded and overstuffed Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, the Daejeon Express Bus Terminal is spacious and clean. It has an array of restaurants, snack counters, an E-Mart, and a movie theater. The staff's helpful as well.

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