The Quick and Dirty Guide to Seoul City Buses

27 10 2008

Since apparently I can’t make it two weeks without falling ill to some horrid cold or stomach thing, I’ve taken to riding a lot of public transportation lately. Taking the subway tacks on an extra 20 or so minutes to the trek to work, so I prefer the bus. If I weren’t such an impatient thing, though, because the bus requires a little extra strength in the morning. Let me explain…

Waiting at the bus stop seems innocent enough. I usually read a book, but most people bob their heads to their music or simply stand patiently. The moment the bus pulls in all hell breaks loose. Everyone starts trying to gauge where the bus is going to stop and push their way to the front. Believe it or not (if you’ve ever been to Seoul, you’d believe it!) the old ladies are the worst.

Once the bus doors open it’s a mad scramble to allow the departing passengers through while simultaneously struggling to jam your body in an already full to bursting bus. Overcrowded doesn’t do the situation justice. If I manage to get my body in instead of backing off and waiting for the next bus I invite strangers closer to me than most guys I’ve dated (just kidding, but seriously, it’s intense). It’s a good day if my head is only in the armpit of one of my fellow passengers. I realized this morning that taking a banana in my purse was a catastrophic mistake without one of those sweet banana cases.

In addition to the sardine can-like conditions, Seoul buses are notoriously nausea-inducing. For whatever reason (traffic, *coughbaddriverscough*) Seoul city buses lurch around like the brake was only invented for near collisions, and the gas pedal must be pumped at all times. This creates a lovely sensation that a lesser stomach might find unbearable. Not to mention at high traffic times finding a handle (if you are too shy to subject a Korean to your armpit, at least) can be a daunting task. Learning to ride the bus is harder than learning to surf, and I can attest to that!

In any case, I’ve compiled a few of my tried and true tactics to handle the (sometimes) unfortunate necessity that is the Seoul city bus.

1. If at all possible, wait for the next bus. My bus tends to come pretty often in the morning, and to try to jam onto the first available can be quite stressful and uncomfortable. Give yourself some extra time!

2. Set your stance wide. It will give you just the slightest bit of room to do things such as maintain blood circulation and keep track of your belongings.

3. Try not to let people breathe on you. As wonderful as your Listerine might be, others won’t always extend the same courtesy. Just the other day I had a man belch in my face. Thanks for that, sir.

4. Swipe your pass well before the bus comes to the stop. Most likely it won’t make a difference in fare enough to matter, and that way no one will give you the death stare or attempt to slice off your arm as you try to swipe and exit.

5. Maintain a good attitude and patience. There will always be that obnoxious person behind you trying to get closer to the door when you need to get off too, but there’s nothing gained from acting like an asshole. Plus if you are one of the two or three white people that EVER ride the bus it’s good to show a little respect for spreading the love between cultures and whatnot.

Despite the pains of the bus, it’s well worth the time saved in getting around the city and can open up many more places that you might not be likely to discover via subway. Plus you get to see out the windows!

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2 responses

29 10 2008
Kris

Better you than me girl!! You’ve got a lot more guts than me to experience a bus ride in Seoul!! I think I’ll take Iceland over Korea any day! Sorry to hear that you keep on getting sick – better keep up the vitamins! Take Care – love hearing about your adventures! Kris

3 11 2008
Nomadic Matt

if you are sick, eat kimchi….cure all for everything….doctor prescribed in korea!

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