Journals from Yonsei University, Korea
2009-11-18 Taiwan: 10/21/09
With only one midterm I decided to take advantage of my week off and travel to Taiwan. The following posts are journals I kept during that time.
Oh, the difference 2 months can make. Two months ago I wrote about the disastrous experience of being escorted via airplane limousine to campus. This morning I embarked on my own, leaving from a stop just outside of the East gate for the airport. The trip was calm, no angry bus drivers or confusion. As I rode to Incheon I couldn't help but reflect on how much a difference in my confidence and navigation abilities two months had made. I arrived without incident, the trip costing 9,000W (about $7.40). It almost pains me to think about the $50 experience from hell I endured on my arrival.
Navigating the airport was a bit different. Even though several airlines operate out of Incheon, almost all the flights are actually on Korea Air. This rather complicates the checking in process. I was pointed in 3 different directions by 3 different people, and it took over half an hour to find the right place. The flight was uneventful. Terrible main dish, but I thoroughly enjoyed the pineapple and drink choices (I love the fact they brew green tea in flight!).
Customs was quick and I got around pretty easily on the metro. For single journey tickets they give plastic coins that first scan and are then returned to exit. The Youth Travel Center was extremely easy to find, so in all the first part of the journey went very smoothly.
At the Center I picked up my "Digital Tour Buddy", aka my free cell phone for the week. What a fabulous way to encourage tourism! It has speed dials for translation, hostel and taxi service. Plus an English to Chinese dictionary. It's funny how the addition of this takes the fear of language barriers our of the way and made me much more comfortable traveling on my own.
Finding my rail pass was another trial in itself, but I eventually made it to the right counter. The woman was extremely helpful and made sure I had all the right schedules and directions. I had an hour and a half to kill before my train so I went in search of much needed sustenance.
How fabulous it was to have real Chinese food! No Koreanized dishes, oh it was delightful. I had fried noodles with beef, sesame balls with red bean paste, and Oolong Tea. That meal alone has made this trip worthwhile.
I am writing now from the train, where I have already drawn attention to myself as the hopeless English speaker. As has been my experience before, I think the success of this trip will be due in large part to the kindness of strangers. I was just motioned on the train, and didn't know that there was assigned seating. It basically is like my China experience-Some people have reserved seats and others try to grab a quick seat if no one is there. This was kindly explained to me when the conductor came to collect tickets. I had already been in one man's seat, but the guy next to me gave up his before I had figured out what was going on.
So yay for a week's worth of travel by rail for about $35, but tear for it being standby. The ride is just about 3 hours long, and now instead of relaxing I am watching out at every stop to see if I need to give up my seat. So here's hoping that I get lucky and can keep sitting for as long as possible!
Yonsei, Fall 2009