25.09.2012 24 °C
Tuesday 25 Sept
Had an interesting breakfast of ham, spiced sausage, scrambled eggs and fried rice. That's not too strange but it was all the salad items that you could choose from, the steamed rice and about 3 hot dishes containing foods that did not have labels on so we weren't game to try.
Google is a wonderful tool to use when away. Google maps lay our path from the hotel to the bus stop, told us which bus we needed to catch to Gubongsan (our destination today) what time it left and returned. There were several buses that could take you to Gubongsan but some required changing buses and that seemed to hard so I just followed the 216 that went directly there and get several return times depending on how long we were gone for the day.
Google a few useful phrases and we headed off, walked down the street, looked at each other blankly and returned to the hotel to ask reception which direction we needed to go. Brought up the google map and she put on us the right path. A few streets later and there was bus 216 sitting at at stop. We hurried up to the door, 'Shillayhamnida, dul chapyo Gubongsan' (excuse me, two tickets Gubongsan) , the driver muttered something to an old bloke sitting on the bus and then both were saying 'ye, ye' and the driver waved us on. Chris took out a 10,000 won and the driver shook his head and waved frantically 'na na'. Chris fumbled looking for something smaller and I grabbed a handful of coins which he started counting out until Chris found two 1000 won notes. He took them and four 100 won coins and gave them to Chris to put in the box. Much like Australian buses with the touch on and off system but if you pay by cash the driver takes it and will give you change. Here you need the right change as the driver is only the to drive. We were lucky that our first public bus ride was on an older bus where the driver is not enclosed and we were able to talk with him and that we were at the beginning of the run so he had the time and patience and no other fares.
On our way, we pulled out the map and tried matching up the Korean names on the bus stop chart on the glass beside us with the ones on our map. Problem with an English map is that it's in English. Decided next time we get two, one in English and one in Korean then when you ask someone for help they can read and direct on their map and we can match it up on ours. They just give blank looks when presented with the English one, turning it around, trying to match up things they know and end up looking as stupid as we do.
Anyway, the bus stops at the lights and the driver dashes down to us and points to the stations on the glass, 'Hana, dul, se, ne, daseot, yeoset ...' He counts up to 10 then keeps pointing at several more stations and keeps his finger on the 11th one, and tapes away with his finger and talks rapidly in Korean but we got the idea that that was our stop. Interesting he stopped counting at ten, as that is as high as I can count in Korean too! As the stop came close, he called us to the front of the bus and pointed to what looked like the entrance to something we assumed was the park and we got off at the next stop.
We walked back to the entrance and it read something about a school? We walked up the path and eventually it separated and one did go to a school and the other up into bush land. Several walkers walked past us so we gather this was our destination. Still not sure even now if we did get to Gubongsan, a mountain which the Korean tourist bureau recommended to seeing the autumn colours but we had one huge walk.
It was fairly steep with lots of exercise equipment dotted throughout being well used by the locals on their exercise routine. We noticed that all the walkers were coming from the other direction and as before they tend to give you a fleeting look and continue on their way. One man gave us a cheery hello so we assumed he must have travelled a bit and was used to foreigners. We got to the top and the view was of a huge city of buildings, crazy big. We had a break in the gazebo structure before heading down the other side. Mmmmm, now we know why no one was walking this way. So steep. Slow progress down with the trees being used as poles for balance and to stops us sliding down on our butts.
It was not what we expected at the end. Straight out onto a river bank, a city across on the other side and what looked like the backyard belonging to some hoarder. If the view was disappointing, the toilets were not. Clean, clean, clean, with music playing, automatic tap and heated dryer. We wandered a bit like lost lambs wondering where we were and what to do but there was no choice. Back we went up and over the mountain again. Definitely easier to go up the steep bit than down. Did I say easier? Ha, what a climb our knees and thighs complaining and my face like a beetroot. Having fun yet. Think we would have passed out in the gazebo if others weren't up there, so we put on a brave face. Thank goodness we had taken plenty of water. Food would have been nice but then we weren't expecting to do the walk twice.
The rest of the journey was easy. We knew what we were doing now. Got back to the bus stop and crossed the road for the return journey, the bus arrival was counted down on the electronic sign, we had the correct money and we walked on board deposited the money in the box and sat down. The bus was pretty full so we felt pretty good, no dumb foreigners here. Even went for a late lunch (3pm) in the food hall we had dinner in last night. We knew how this rolled to. Ordered food, via pictures, at the counter and got our number. Wash our hands at the wash station in the middle of the food hall, opened the little fridge and took out two metal cups and helped ourselves to cold water and deposited the cups back in the holding tubes waiting for collects to be washed. I went off to get a smoothie leaving Chris to wait for the number for our lunch to flash on the screen. I returned to a very puzzled looking Chris with two fried rice meals decorated with mussels, squid ring and prawns. Pretty sure we had ordered pork.
Not sure what went wrong but we ate up politely and Chris ate my prawns for me. What a trooper. It was very nice and exceedingly spicy hot. One smoothie was not enough and I had to take off for another.
We returned to our room about 4pm hanging out for a shower and spent the late afternoon sampling 3 varieties of Korean beer, Cass, Hite, Max. Quite surprising I can type this at all really.
There weren't any autumn colours either, too early