Friday, September 16, 2005

Chusok is nearly upon us...

. . . and Koreans are gearing up to pile into cars, buses, trains, and the odd plane for a yearly pilgrimage back to their hometowns to celebrate the annual harvest festival.

When an entire country hits the road, expect a few traffic problems.

My wife's family home is Daegu, so we usually head there and suffer both going and returning. Last year, we went but made the mistake of taking a bus because we'd already made the mistake of trying too late to purchase a train ticket. We almost got stranded in Daegu because even the buses were filled to capacity with the tickets all sold out. Fortunately, one bus company decided to run a special late-night bus back to Seoul, and we packed onto that for what would ordinarily be a three-hour trip.

The driver must have had a hard day because in working the graveyard shift, he nearly landed us all in the graveyard as he three times nodded off and drifted into other lanes during a fourteen-hour trip.

By the grace of God and cups of coffee, we safely reached our Seoul home rather than our eternal one, but I wanted no more rides on The Celestial Omnibus and told my wife: "I will never again go to Daegu for Chusok unless we take the terrestrial train."

So, we're not going this year.

Which explains why we went to Daegu last weekend -- as you may have noticed if you were alert and not too cartographically challenged.


At 3:23 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

During my brief visit to South Korea last year, my buddy and I drove from Seoul to Gyeongju (and back) at the end of the summer holiday season. It was a long drive and traffic was bad, but what made it worse was the fact that the road map provided by our hotel did not reflect the recent and apparently quite comprehensive renumbering of the major Korean highways. How we made it back to Seoul I'm really not sure...

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That sounds typical of Korea, but it could also happen in the States.

In 1976, I rode my bicycle from Talequah, Oklahoma to Waco, Texas and nearly died of dehydration one day because the map showed a highway that didn't yet exist and never did come into existence. (I know because I drove that route once some years later, and the highway still wasn't there!)

If I hadn't been astoundingly fit back then, I wouldn't be here entertaining the public . . . uh, okay, entertaining myself . . . today.

Anyway, I learned to be sceptical of maps.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Indeed! As a tourist, I found that South Korea pretty much had its act together with regard to providing information for foreign travelers, so I didn't see the foul-up as a specifically Korean phenomenon. Besides, it gave us a chance to test our navigation skills in a country that was already somewhat disorienting to us.

Glad you survived the bike trip. The inaccurate map sounds like the work of--well, I won't say his name, but he reportedly has hands of wire...


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