Friday, May 17, 2013

Keeping cool during the traffic delays - The return to Gangneung, part 1

A childhood of long car rides across the Midwest has me stoic about multiple hours spent in transit. "We'll get there when we get there," goes the mantra, for getting angry only makes things worse. That said, a day like today taxed our patience and ability to stay positive.

The bus journey that R and I embarked on should have taken around 3 hours took over 6 because every Korean with a car or the ability to steal one took to the roads today to experience the wonders of gridlock. Getting out of Seoul proved exhausting; usually the city presents the usual traffic jams, but today even news reporters were mentioning clogged freeways. Once we were on the road, we wished we'd never gotten on. Of course, turning back wasn't an option. Our journey, however delayed, would not be complete until our toes touched the sand at Gyeongpo Beach and our lips tasted grilled fish.

Despite the protracted time, the trip did have its highlights: I finished my book and R learned to never check Facebook after something scintillating happened on an episode of a favorite TV show she hadn't watched yet. We both enjoyed gazing at Gangwon-do's endless green mountains and hills, too. The bus's stopping and starting prevented any iPad/iPod action, so took a respite from technology for a while. But around the time we stopped in Hoengseong, I thought "Oh well, what the hell" and started tapping away on the iPad. As I was out of stuff to read, writing something sounded appealing. Whether or not this resulting post about spending a working day aboard a bus holds any appeal is up to the reader.

Yet while we may have been disappointed by the delays, they were expected to some degree. Holiday times are usually poor times to travel, and Buddha's Birthday proved no exception. The two of us learned the hard way to either travel as early as possible or just leave the night before. We'd thought that leaving at 8:50 would serve us well and it didn't. We weren't the only ones though. Plenty of other travelers got caught the trap too. Lesson learned: Buddha's Birthday brings the crowds. Sunday drivers and anyone who's shaky with a stick shift need not apply for driving on this day.

More to come soon...

*In honor of today's post, here's a quick Korean lesson:

The base verb form of wait is 기다리다, or gidarida (gi-da-ri-da); "I am waiting" is 나는 기다리세요, or gidari seyo.

*People of the Internet: Keep the spoilers to yourselves, please.

* The trip did get off to a good start, for I successfully bought bus tickets in advance by writing everything in Korean and handing the ticket girl the Post-It. I would've simply spoken everything, but I got tripped up on saying the 9 in 9:20am  because of how telling time works in the Korean language. It didn't really matter though because she told me in English that the 9:20 was sold out, so I opted for the 8:50 bus instead.

*Korean uses two sets of numbers: pure Korean and Sino-Korean. Clock time is spoken with pure Korean hours and Sino-Korean minutes. Sound confusing? It is at first. 

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