There was an ass breaking incident in the middle of the night. A drunk and ambien’d Jake shuffled to the bathroom quietly, but moments later, it was anything but quiet as the porcelain toilet top crashed to the ground and broke. I found him on the ground, clutching his tailbone. And, well, I confiscated his ambien.
The rest of the morning was spent packing and searching for breakfast food; we had an 11:00 date with the Seoul Train.
Paris Baguette is a chain in Seoul (http://eng.paris.co.kr/index.html), and it’s a pretty awesome one. They have all manner of pastries-pastry wrapped around sweet stuff, pastry wrapped around hot dogs, pastry wrapped around pastry, plain old pastry, you name it. Everything is laid out, all pretty, and you just cruise around, load your selections on to a tray and bring it to the cashier to be rung up.
I became obsessed with these sandwiches (that are sold all over Korea…possibly Japan as well?) composed of white bread with the crusts cut off (ADORABLE) and usually there were three or four different little sandwiches all put together. My favorite was the egg salad, tuna salad, and ham combo. They all had some lettuce and cucumber for crunch, and that was it. Jake was certain that each element of the sandwich was meant to be eaten individually, but I was all about eating the whole mess all together.
They also sell pretty cakes and fancy coffee (or, regular coffee, if you like)
If you are taking the train from Seoul to Busan direct, you want the KTX, which is the high speed rail. The journey takes three hours. It can be kind of confusing, trying to find the booking website, especially the English version. This link will take you there:
We got confirmation emails that we had reserved seats on the 11:00 train. The email stated that we may or may not receive tickets beforehand, and if we didn’t, we simply had to go to the ticket counter with our confirmation and they would hand us tickets. We allowed ourselves extra time to figure that process out, but once there, it was quite obvious where to go, and, it all went the way it was supposed to. We handed them our print out and our passports, they handed us tickets.
Seoul station is really modern and clean.
We were a little concerned, standing there in that main station area, because there didn’t appear to be any food vendors and we were about to get on a train for three hours. I had previously read that bento boxes were available on the train, but I wasn’t even sure that the train I had read about was a Korean train. However, once we left the main room to head to the tracks, we found a line of awesome food vendors at the top of the escalators, each one looking more delicious than the last.
From there we headed down the escalator to the train platform.
The funniest thing goes on there at Seoul station. Everyone, and I mean everyone, shows up and then starts running for their lives with luggage, kids, whatever, in tow. They all look as though they are in the midst of some sort of extreme emergency. It’s like it’s a pre-requisite, that you must arrive at the last second and run the gauntlet.
We found our assigned seats and dug in to the most delicious saucy noodles that we scored up at the Noodle box spot, and gimbap for our predictable friend, Mike. (sorry Mikey!)
The train was nice and clean, with reclining seats, and it left on time; it was no Eastern European torture train. However, when it did depart, we set off to find the bar car (we must have walked through six cars to get to the end of the train) only to find there wasn’t one. We were quite distressed, but, what is one to do.
We made the long hike back to our seats, where we sat and watched the various KTX cartoons that played on the TV. As in, they were cartoons about the train. Safety cartoons and whatnot. I swear, Koreans make cartoons out of everything. Cartoons in the subway station telling you to stand to the right, walk to the left, cartoon’s on the train, even GPS devices and cell phones have cartoony displays and make cartoon noises.
Anyhow, shortly into our journey, this guy showed up, and we were saved.
There wasn’t anything hearty for sale, but they did sell snacks like dried squid and waffles. They also sold beer. Praise the Lord.
The ride to Busan took us through some really green, lush, mountains, lots of farming operations, and the occasional small town. The train made maybe four stops along the way. It was a very pretty ride.
I’m not really sure what they were farming/growing, but these long tube shaped green houses were a constant sight throughout the trip
We pulled into Busan on time, where we were greeted by those insert-your-face-into-the-hole versions of the train’s cartoon characters
And our first clue that hiking gear is serious fucking business in Busan.