Published: June 14th 2012June 13th 2012
Seoul station protest
street vendors apparently making a noise
I started the last post on the train to Cheosan. Getting to Cheosan could have been on two ways, all actually three ways, if I wanted to spend 2 1/2 hours on the subway/metro going all the way to about the seventh last stop of the incredibly long line 1. Instead it took me an even hour or so on the aforementioned Saemaeul express train. I could also have gone by bus but as there are about four bus stations in Seoul from which buses for various cities leave, I decided it was easier to change one subway station and go to Seoul Central Station. I decided to buy a ticket from the machine, which you can at least persuade to work in English . I discovered then that I could get the really fast KTX train for about 30 minutes to another city, wait there 30 minutes, then come back 10 minutes on another train . The idea of going directly on a somewhat "slower " train leaving in 90mins obviously appealed more.
With the wait I went downstairs to see the details for the airport train which I will get when I go to leave. They have an
in-town type check in, as they do in Hong Kong, but although I am on an Asiana plane, it is on a Qantas ticket so cannot check in down there apparently. As there was also a traditional style Korean restaurant down there I decided I might as well have a late lunch of rice porridge (congee?) with alleged abalone (some bits very chewy but I have never eaten it before).
Arriving in Cheonan soon realised that outside Seoul English speakers somewhat drop off. Managed to communicate what direction hotels might be in and was pointed to the west side of the station. So I ended up at what is apparently a "theme" hotel as you will see from the photo. I expect to be staying in a lot of them and the standard price is around 35-40,000Krw ($30-35Au roughly). My room appeared to lack any themes so maybe I had to arrive with a girlie in tow or know how to ask for one. Nevertheless it had the standard big TV screen and own computer (but no wifi).
In search of dinner up and down the street and found what seemed a good BBQ place. The locals must
think so as well as people kept coming in in the 90 minutes or so that I was there. The presence of the rather large yellow Harley of the owner also indicated that it was doing well! As he spoke no Korean I simply pointed at some 7,000Krw prices on the wall almost at random, wondering what the hell I would actually get. Fortunately it was marinated beef which was cooked over the charcoal brazier set down in the middle of the table. The waitress kept charge of the cooking and chopped the cooked meat into pieces with scissors. You then wrap meat in lettuce leaves with the sideplates of kimchi etc. The place was really well run and they all seemed to work very well as a team.
The only real reason to go to Cheosan (apart from of course having a very good bulgogi style meal) was to go to the Independence Hall of Korea,, which unfortunately is about 14 kms out of town. I had noticed the information office on the other side of the station and she was able to produce a brochure in the English, although she did not speak it. This indicated that
bus 400 went there (the Lonely Planet had indicated other numbers). I had clocked the bus stop location the previous night so was lucky that a 400 bus already full of pensioners came along shortly. I had shown the bus driver the name of the hall in Korean (on my tablet, so modern!). It happened that a tall young Korean guy from Seoul more or less standing next to me was going there as well, as he asked me where I was going.
This meant that I had someone to tell me when to get off the bus (although the tall spires are fairly distinctive to spot) but more importantly to ask the bus driver in Korean whether the bus returning actually went past the railway station. His English name was Jay (you can see why he would not want to use Kim as every second person in Korea is called that). He had just come out of the compulsory two years in the Army. Anyway we walked around the 6 halls of the museum which are mostly very earnestly patriotic about the independence movements mostly against the Japanese during the 20th century. In that respect it is not
note the distinctive fan extraction
that dissimilar to the Nanjing Occupation Museum. Then he kindly got me onto the right bus back into the city. Back to the hotel to get my bag than a taxi in rush hour traffic to the bus station to get the bus to Gongju, next stop.
There are more photos below