Apr 222024

Thursday was another early start.  Look, this wasn’t a vacation, ok? When we go to Korea, it’s a pilgrimage. A voyage.  A journey. It’s hilarious too because this time around, I said, “Well, it will be our third time there. We can go at a slower pace. Relax.”

Pahahahaha. Ok as if I just lightened up overnight.

Anyway, this time we were departing from Seoul Station and heading to Gyeongju, a city that used to be the capital of Korea waaaaaay back in the day when there was only one Korea. The Silla Dynasty, I believe? The appeal was twofold: it’s home to burial mounds and so much history that it’s referred to as the Museum Without Walls; and there’s an amusement park there called Gyeongju World. LOL – we had to get some coaster credits on this trip! It’s tradition and it’s also where we officially because coaster thoosies.

But first we had to get up around 6:30am, get ready and then head out to Seoul Station, where I had my second injeolmi latte at Dunkin. Yo, this was one of the best bevs I had of the whole trip, not even a slight burp of hyperbole in that statement.

Anyway, Him Man the ‘Meri Can decided to use the ordering kiosk instead of going up to the counter but then he was flailing when it came time to pay and I was hissing, THERE IS SOMEONE WAITING BEHIND US CAN YOU PLEASE PAY YOU’RE SO EMBARRASSING.

At this point, he was scratching his head, really unable to figure it out so the lady behind us leaned around him and tapped on the screen and then gestured for him to put in his card. She basically had to hold his hand from there.

And then when they called our number, she signaled to us that it was ours because my mind was still trying to translate and Henry didn’t hear it at all, I’m sure. I thanked her in Korean approx. 8 times and she smiled and nodded but I’m sure she was like PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE NOW.

It was really nice to have someone help without asking though!

We also got some breakfast breads at Tous les Jours – their salt bread was ok!

This picture is so weird but I kept it because it illustrates what was definitely a moment of Henry mockery. Our favorite sorts of moments! The most memorable moments. We were mad because Henry didn’t read our brain waves as they were generating silent demands for napkins so when he didn’t immediately fetch them for us, we had to actually USE OUR VOICES and order him to get off his ass and get us napkins before the train departed. JESUS!! Way to know how to meet our needs.

“Oh, Henry is so wonderful, he does so much for you two!”

Does he?


Anyway, don’t cry from him, Gyeongju-tina, because in order to obtain napkins, he “had” to buy kimbap from one of the train station food stalls, what a fucking martyr.

Don’t worry, I helped him eat it.

I didn’t write anything on the train. I know that I read my book for a bit and slept a lot because it was a dreary, rainy day. A good day for napping on a train, if you ask me. (Ask me anything in the comments, seriously! I live for talking about Korea.)

The first thing I did when arriving in Gyeongju was PEE. I had to pee so bad. I have actually never used the bathrooms on the KTX trains because it’s never been dire enough for me to get up and go so I don’t even know what the bathrooms are like. But, since it’s Korea, I’m going to guess they’re pretty good. I mean, you can pee in the subway station restrooms without any concern. (Although, you have to check the signs on the stalls though because some of the stalls don’t have toilets, but these ceramic urinal things in the ground that you have to squat over. It was major culture shock for me on our first trip when I opened a stall and was like WHERE IS THE COMMODE AND WTF IS THAT THING??)

(Just some fun Korea facts for you! I’m not sure if any other Asian country is like that. I didn’t use any of the bathrooms in the Tokyo subway stations!)

ANYWAY! I took a picture of this sign because the water in the toilet was indeed yellow.

After this, we had to buy umbrellas at Story Way because it was a torrential downpour out there. I don’t know why this stands out as such a solid memory, but afterward, Henry was like ME GO FIND GARBAGE CAN and as soon as he walked away, I saw one literally right near where we were standing so I walked over and threw my stuff away while Henry traversed the whole train station for no reason. I told Chooch and we cackled like hyenas while watching Henry meander around like a Sim, bumping into walls, getting turned around, all with trash in his hand hahaha. Henry, ya doof.

But then he finally made his back to us and we were like hahaha there was a garbage can right here and he cried, “I DON’T CARE!” and then his face was all screwed up in anger while Chooch and I mocked him and he made empty threats about us being on our own, us having to catch our own bus, etc.

It’s a tale as old as time, you guys. Or at least as old as 2002.

The bus came almost as soon as we ventured out of the station, and it was mayhem. There were so many people trying to get on it! The three of us ended up having to stand in the middle of the bus by the door, and it almost killed us every time it opened. Oh Christ, that bus ride was CHAOS – people falling into each other, luggage banging into people, the bus skidding around corners at breakneck speed. There was an Australian solo traveler standing behind us and we kept making eye contact and cracking up.

“It’s an adventure!” she said, and it was one of Those Moments that I will never forget because I am a crazy person when it comes to latching on to the smallest of human contacts.

She also chuckled when Chooch and I told Henry, in sync, that he was so embarrassing.

But! It got us to where we needed to go, and then it was just a short walk in the rain to our guest house which was cutely called Ah Ha! We couldn’t check in yet, but we were able to stow our bags (Chooch and I just had our backpacks, and Henry had his man purse lol). We chilled in the shared space / kitchen area for a few minutes while we got situated and Henry figured out which bus we had to catch to Gyeongju World.

Henry and all of our cables, his life’s burden.

Anyway, somehow we managed to get on the correct bus, the very first try, to Gyeongju World. The rain had stopped by this point and we were hoping that it wouldn’t be too bad of a day. The website said it was opened, regardless, and I didn’t want to switch it to Friday because Friday was BURIAL MOUND day and I wanted to see that stuff in the nice, sunny weather, which is what Friday was calling for.

A very wet Gyeongju World! Of course, there was NO ONE in the courtyard or in the ticket lines but we still thought, “OK, this is fine. Yes, let’s do this!” The girl at the ticket booth was very friendly but didn’t speak English. She handed us a map and showed us a list of rides, and some of them had a rain cloud next to them.

“OK?” she asked.

I looked at the map and to me, it seemed like that was saying the rides with the rain cloud were closed for the day because of the rain. None of the coasters had this next to them, so I said, “Sure!” And we paid.

Then when we got to the entrance gate, the girl there took our tickets and held up her phone, which said, “These are the only rides that are open today” and pointed to rides that had the stupid rain cloud next to them. IT WAS THE INVERSE OF WHAT I INITIALLY THOUGHT! So basically it was the carousel and three or four other kids rides that were running – none of the coasters.

I was like FUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK as we walked into the park. I let myself panic and freak out for approx. one minute before saying, “OK, I am going to try to see if we could get a rain ticket or something and just come back tomorrow.”

You guys, they were soooo accommodating and pleasant about the whole thing. I didn’t have to beg, I didn’t have to talk to 7 different people. The girl at the gate smiled and called up her manager on her headphone, said, “No problem!” The manager arrived and walked us back to the ticket window, we gave the girl there our credit card, bam. Refund. No questions asked! I didn’t feel bad about it because we knew that we would just come back the next day, so they would still get our money in the end. I feel like in America, they’d be like tough titties, babe – you walked through the turnstile. Your ours now. Grab a mop. Earn your keep.

Since we were there though, we walked around the resort area and looked at things because you know tourists gon’ tour. Look at this cutie magpie!! I love magpies.

We walked over this stream to get a better look at this place which is apparently just a corporate event hall but sure looked cool. I’d like to have an event there. Maybe a future pie party, once I make more friends in Korea which is my new life goal because on my next trip, I’m having a fucking sunset picnic on at the Hangang, you hear. And it better not just be Henry and me. Lame.

A dreary day anywhere in Korea will always be better than a dreary day in Pittsburgh.

I don’t know what this is but Chooch was the one that pointed it has the same shape as the aforementioned tower cut out of it and then we were wondering if there is a certain vantage point where you can see the tower through the building perfectly but we were getting hungry and lost interest.

Then my favorite part of the day happened! Henry had us waiting for a bus that was apparently never going to come but we didn’t know it until after we spent 30 minutes waiting for it. I was so hungry during this that I made him cross the street (he fucking jaywalked like a straight-up Yinzer, I was so embarrassed) to get traditional Gyeongju snacks from a bakery.

They were good but I was still so hungry and now I was just turning into a little fucking bitch.

Out of focus because my eyes legit can’t tell anymore.

Anyway, it was after this that a young couple strode over and got under the little bus stop shelter with us. At first, it seemed like they weren’t paying attention to us but then I started to get the sense that they were possibly talking about us and I was on high alert because please please please don’t make fun of us, I know that Henry alone drags us down like 87 pegs on the Coolness Ladder without even opening his mouth but I promise that Chooch and I aren’t dumb Americans if you just give us a chaaaaaaance-uhhhhh.

Then, they approached.

“Excuse me, what bus are you waiting for?” the boy-one asked, so Henry was all, “Uh, um, mmmmmm…..numbers.” and Chooch was ready to step out into traffic, I think. Anyway, long story short, at first I thought that they were trying to ask us for help regarding which bus to catch and I was like, “Um….” but it turns out, they were concerned for us because we had AMERICAN STOOPS written all over and they were pretty certain we weren’t where we needed to be.

“So, that bus isn’t coming for 2 hours,” they said, and I wanted to fucking kill Henry but I couldn’t even verbally eviscerate him because I didn’t want this nice Korean couple who literally were so beautiful and sweet that I could have died, to think that I was a monster. So I held it in.

Anyway, once they were determined what we were trying to do, they were like, “You need to catch the bus that will come on that other street” and after thanking them PROFUSELY, we booked it down the street and back toward Gyeongju World where we JUST MADE IT to the bus. Like, I mean WE JUST MADE IT – the bus was pulling up to the stop just as we crossed the street. God bless those sweet kids!!!

I need to point out also that Gyeongju World is kind of out in the cut too, and there were NO PEDESTRIANS walking by us while we were at that bus stop until they randomly showed up, because it just wasn’t the type of area where people are out and about. So, we got really lucky that they were dropped in our laps by the spirit of Korea’s reigning king, Kwon Jiyong in this our year of the dragon 2024.

Sometimes, people can be really nice for no reason. Another moment of our trip that I will never forget!

OK, more Gyeongju Day 1 later.

  2 Responses to “3/28/24: Train to Gyeongju”

  1. I have a picture of a “ceramic urinal thing” in Shanghai when I was like, “hahahaa isn’t this funny?” only to then use one a few days later. Wasn’t bad.

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