Thoughts of a relentless mind

Roaming around in South Korea

Even after spending 5 months in Korea, I still couldn’t figure out how to check for the bus that I need to take. Google Maps helps me to some extent. But even that is not sufficient since majority of the names are in Korean language. Google Maps even suggests the appropriate bus route, a great boon for non-Korean speaking folks.

If you’re not able to figure out the right bus to take, you have no other option but to use a taxi. Taxi fare in Korea is very cheap compared to Europe. I don’t remember a single instance where I had to pay more than 6000 Won (around $5 to $6), and I have used the taxi here a lot.

One tip for non-Korean folks who intend to use taxi in Korea. Always carry the address of the destination address in Korean language. I always carry a number of business and visiting cards of colleagues, restaurants and other shops. Quite helpful when dealing with taxi drivers.

It’s always helpful to carry the T-Money card in South Korea. This is a prepaid card which can be bought from the local GS25 stores or in the subway station. You can load some money onto this card and use this for travel in bus and metro. Using raw cash for travel is a real pain and you’ll struggle to find out where to get the ticket in the subway station. If you wish to use the bus service using local currency, you need to drop certain amount in the money-holder machine next to the driver seat. AFAIK the max amount is 1000 Won. Consider yourself lucky if the bus driver understands whatever you ask him in English 🙂

21/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Subway in South Korea

Public transportation system in South Korea is very well organized. However the ease of convenience doesn’t feel as good compared to the public transport system in Germany.

Having used the S-Bahn in Germany, I expected similar kind of system in Korea too. The subway trains are on schedule most of the times. But the real turn-off is the fact that there is no subway map shown in most of the stations. The S-Bahn system was very convenient to use mainly dude to the availability of the S-Bahn map in almost all of the stations, and the demarcation of various places into zones. The English version of the subway map of Seoul can be found in:

Advance planning is required if you intend to use the subway since you won’t have the map in the subway stations. You can get a hard-copy of the subway map in the tourist information centers for free. Folks from Suwon can make use of the tourist information center just next to the subway station on the outside. It is located just right to the station.

A copy of the subway map is available on almost all of the mobiles here. But the irony is that all these maps have station names in Korean language, which makes it difficult to use for outsiders.

21/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Help for foreigners in South Korea

Outsiders really have a tough time in South Korea. Life gets hard when you can’t communicate with others.ou run into this kind of problem.

I found out a free interpretation service in Seoul that you can use when in need. The number is 02-120. I have personally never tried this service, but got to know about this from a friend of mine. And yes, this service is absolutely free !

There is a helpline number for tourists too. Dial 02-1330 to reach the helpline number of Seoul, and 031-1330 for the helpline number of Suwon.

20/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Life in South Korea

I have been in South Korea for quite some time now. Have visited few places and am getting more and more comfortable with the people and the surroundings.

One thing is for sure: South Korea is not such an easy place to live compared to other countries. This uneasy feeling comes because as an outsider you find hard to interact with people. Most of the localites here do not speak English. Even few of them who do speak English cannot put across their opinion and take annoyingly long time to understand what we say. The main reason for this might be because of the fact that the people here give huge importance to their native language.

I have been told by my colleagues here that the situation is fast improving. Children here are being taught English from a very young age. And since Korea does not have many good English speaking people, schools are getting teachers from other countries to teach English here. No wonder I get to see people from many nations here.

20/06/2011 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment