Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Korean trains...like airplanes but on the ground!

Sitting on the KTX train from Seoul to Daegu at half 8 on a Friday evening, whilst listening to Jennifer Lopez’s classic hit single ‘Ain’t it Funny’, I suddenly think to myself - well, ain’t it funny! Wise words Jennifer, wise words indeed! I remember it was just a short 10 months ago that I decided to make this move over to Korea, and now here I am, travelling across the Korean countryside, enjoying the view and the use of the trains free Wifi, and its just brilliant!

KTX High Speed Train

I’ve been here for approximately 2 months now and I have certainly had my ups and downs, but as I sit here, on this high speed train, surrounded by Samsung phone noises, people with no spacial awareness, and Koreans eating absolutely anything that smells even remotely like dog, it hits me: I’ve made it. I’m in Korea! Moving to a different country is certainly not the easiest thing to do. There is literally hundreds of pieces of paper to be filled out, signed, sealed and delivered, and most of it is in a different language, so it’s good to know that its all done now and I can just sit back and (much like this train journey) enjoy the ride.

I started my journey at Seoul Station and let me tell you, it was a minefield. So if you’re planning a trip from this station in particular then leave plenty of time. It took me about 2 hours just to walk from the Subway to the main station. Londoners - imagine the connection at Charing Cross and times that by 10. Craziness. Obviously I'm exaggerating slightly, it was probably only about a 15 minute walk, but still, long enough to watch 3 episodes of the popular 1980’s TV show ‘Acorn Antiques’ (click here to watch the first episode - you won’t regret it)

 Seoul Station! Looks better in black and white, trust me!

Although the station was huge, everyone was really helpful and getting my tickets was extremely easy. I had previously booked them online at letskorail.com so when I arrived I just presented my passport and eticket and that was that. Simple. I found the platform with ease as the giant screens flashed up the information in both Korean and English, and then I eventually boarded my train. Easy.

I’m on my way down to Daegu, or Dongdaegu (to be precise) to see my best friend from the UK. He moved here over a year ago and seeing his own journey was one of the things that made me seriously consider doing it myself, so I couldn’t wait to see his FACE. The train I was on, reached speeds of up to 300km which is about 150mph for anyone who wasn’t sure on the conversion. Lets just say it was pretty fast, but the funny thing is, I could barely feel it move. The trains over here are like airplanes. There’s a TV above your head, those tiny slots on the arm rests for your headphones, free magazines, and also vending machines on the end of every carriage carrying treats such as Cocacola, and Coffee in a can. It’s wonderful, well not the coffee in a can, that just tastes bizarre. 

 Standard train vending machine...so many options!

Free Magazine! WIN!

This will be my first time out of Seoul....well on my own and not with an organised trip anyway, so as you can imagine, I am quite excited. That’s the thing with living in Korea, everything is always so new, even getting a train is a joyful and quite thrilling experience. The journey takes around 2 hours, which is almost the length of the entire country. South Korea is really quite a small place. Daegu is down in the South end about an hour away from Busan, whereas Seoul is in the north. The distance from Seoul to Busan is around 200 miles, so yeah, its not massive.

On the whole my first experience of using the KTX trains in Korea was great, the only thing I would say is that it was DAMN HOT. The temperature outside at the moment is around 15/20 degrees, but for some reason they still insist on having the heating up full blast which is just horrific. Other than that though, it was delightful and I’ll definitely be taking this form of transportation again soon. So let my mini adventure in Daegu began. Lets see what this weekend brings.... 

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