Monday, January 01, 2007


Okay. Time for a lesson in navigating the Korean public transportation system.

Lesson one: Buy a T-Money Smart Card. With these nifty little inventions hidden in your wallet, you can wave your pocketbook towards a counsel and have your fare automatically deducted from your account. These cards work on buses, taxis and the metro.

Refilling the card is a snap and can be done at the subway stations. It is a contactless smart card and can be used in the greater Seoul, Kyunggi-Do and Incheon areas. With the use of these cards you also get a discount to ride the public transportation system. If a typical subway fare is 1100 Won, with the smart card you might only pay 1000 Won.

Lesson two: Bring a book. Subway and bus rides can be long. Spend the time with a good author.

Lesson three: Forget personal space. Koreans have a natural tendency to ignore personal space but this complex seems to magnify itself on the public transportation system. Just cozy up to the nearest Korean and enjoy the sometimes pungent aroma of garlic.

Lesson four: Stuff pillows into your shirt. Koreans often times fall asleep on the subway. Be nice and offer your shoulder as a pillow (see lesson three if you are uncomfortable about this idea).

Lesson five: Give to charity but don't make eye contact with the sales people. Often salesmen and saleswomen will ride the subway and loudly tout their product. Unless it is something really cool just bury your nose in your reading material (see lesson two).

Lesson six: Enjoy the workout. Not always will you find a seat. With the sudden stopping and starting of both the buses and the subways you'll get a pretty good workout for your thighs, hips and biceps (clinging to the hand rails to stay upright).

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