Spontaneous Travel: Always a Good Choice

in which I go to Daegu with Brittney and Caroline, following somewhat of an eleventh hour decision, and it was awesome.

I really hate to make any firm plans.  For me, the best plans are always flexible ones.  I enjoy reading guidebooks and figuring out where I want to go, but I mostly like to leave the actual decision-making for the last minute.  After all, things tend to come up, and firm, inflexible plans can stand in the way of real adventure.  So when we pondered things to do this weekend, I proposed an overnight trip to Daegu, Korea’s fourth largest city (which really means third largest, since Incheon is really just greater Seoul).  I have a deep, passionate love for all trains, high quality and otherwise, and the change to go somewhere a couple hours away seemed wonderful.  Especially on the high speed (but unfortunately pricey) train that runs the Seoul-Busan line.  Daegu is about 1 hour and 45 minutes down this line, which puts it much closer to Busan than to Seoul.  In fact, I am kind of shocked by just how far south the city is.  See:

south-korea.gif (322×347)

It appears here as Taegu, a different transliteration system.

Anyway, Brittney and Caroline took the bait, and by around 7:00 pm on Saturday, we convened at Seoul Station, bought our tickets for the 7:30 train, and by 10, we found ourselves wandering the streets of a new city.  A good choice on many fronts.

Saturday evening was spent wandering through the main shopping area of Daegu, lazily searching for a place to eat, before settling on a way too filling meal at a place that had a chicken on its sign.  Caroline and Brittney both had hankerings for chicken that evening, it seemed (they had indulged in Lotteria’s chicken fingers earlier), and I was flexible.  Following dinner, complete awesomeness transpired.

During our rambles, we had stumbled upon SuuCafe, an incredibly girly looking place that functioned like the omnipresent DVD-Bang (DVD-Room) that litter every third establishment in Korean cities.  Each baby room came stocked with lots of pink pillows, an enormous teddy bear, a TV with way more capabilities than we were capable of figuring out, a pink carpet, frilly lamps, pink curtains, and an unlimed supply of some food (ice cream, chips, popcorn, and some other things) and non-alcoholic drinks.  It was a bit pricy for Korea–6,000 Won each for 2 hours, but considering that is just a hair over $5, it seemed decidedly worth it.  We spent the first 20 minutes taking absurd pictures.  Look how cozy this looks:

The pinkest place I have ever been!

The pinkest place I have ever been!

And how pink!

See!  Very pink!

See! Very pink!

We then settled to watch a couple episodes of the Simpsons, before leaving to figure out where we were going to stay for the night.  After all, it was already past 1, so we figured it would be a good choice.

So we wandered the streets, and decided, after quickly realising we had no idea what we were doing, that the best course of action would be to ask any white people we passed for a recommendation.  Our first try was a group of clueless Brits who had little advice to offer (not a complaint–we certainly had no clue). Our second attempt, a group of friendly Canadian twenty-somethings, were much more helpful, and directed us to another part of town, where we would have our pick of low-end motels.  And this is how, after a brief taxi driver misadventure, we ended up at the Emperor Motel, a place that brought together class, excitement, sketchyness, and general awesomeness, all for 35,000 Won total (which, at 11-12,000 a piece, was just under $10 each).   My goodness.

For starters, I had no idea how anonymous the Korean “love motel” scene was.  Which, I suppose, makes sense.  But seriously, they asked for no names, no ID, just took our money and directed us to our room.  Check out the next morning was equally easy–just dropped off the key on the way out.   Our accomodations were certainly not luxurious, but our bed was fine, and they brought out a mattress to make it easier for the three of us to share the room.  There was a TV, and then full-sized products–bottles of shampoo and soap, toothpaste, and other things, for our use.  Somehow I don’t think this idea would take in the US.  They even gave us each a toothbrush and facewash upon our “check-in.”

But one of the best parts, aside from the provided condom, occured when we climbed into bed.  Lo and behold!  The ceiling directly above the bed had a mirror-like covering, but darkened.  I suppose so you could watch yourself (yourselves, I suppose) in bed?  I don’t know… It was rather hilarious.  And creepy, in a way.

Anyway, we managed to sleep to the morning, made good use of the free stuff provided in the refrigerator (iced tea, coffee, orange juice) and headed out for our Sunday adventure, which involved a trip to a Buddhist temple about an hour from Daegu.  The temple was situated in some mountains which looked fabulous in the ominous foggy weather.

Haeinsa Temple looked spectacular in the misty mountains.

Haeinsa Temple looked spectacular in the misty mountains.

The temple was really interesting to see, and it was marvelous to travel somewhere else in Korea.  After a few hours there, we headed back to Daegu to wander for a couple hours before taking an evening train back.  I would say the trip, all things considered, was a spectacular “Korea win.”   In true Anna fashion, I loved riding the trains (even to the point that I almost wished Daegu were a bit further afield).  And it was great to have the time to spend with Brittney and Caroline.  So, brief though it was, it was a great way to spend a weekend, even if a bit pricy (tickets: 39,000 won each way (about $35 or so).  And as I looked out over the misty mountains, I realised that I distinctly like Korea.  And I will be sad to finish up my time here.

Though, speaking of which, I now have my ferry ticket to Japan!

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4 thoughts on “Spontaneous Travel: Always a Good Choice

  1. If “love motels” were not anonymous, how would their clients and their lovers stay anonymous?

    As for mirrors on ceilings — well, obviously Korea isn’t earthquake country.

    Otherwise…

  2. At some stage in the future you may be able to get the train from Korea to Japan. There is talk of building an undersea tunnel between Korea and Japan (like a much longer version of the Channel Tunnel between England and France).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan-Korea_Undersea_Tunnel

    But it’s still a very long way off becoming a reality. Obviously it would cost a lot of money to build. So that’s one hurdle. But on top of that there would be political sensitivities to overcome: a lot of Koreans are uneasy about being “joined” to Japan (which is understandable given the history of Korea-Japan relations).

    Of course if (or perhaps I should say when) Korean reunification takes place I can imagine that that would have an effect on grand projects like this. Reunification will cost a lot of money and will require a lot of investment in the North which would mean projects like this become less of a priority.

    Anyway, maybe in 30 to 50 years’ time you’ll be able to get the train all the way from Europe to Japan travelling via China and a reunified Korea.

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