On my way home, I usually take a nap in the bus. The bus ride takes 30 to 40 minutes, and I come home late, sometimes 10 or 10:30 P.M., so you can just imagine how exhausting the trip is. Last year, I was sleeping like a log and didn’t realize that I have missed my stop. I was awakened when the passenger seated beside me woke me up, because she had to get off and I had to let her pass. Thank God, she woke me up! When I looked out the window, I couldn’t recognize the place. I knew I missed my stop. I was in panic, because I didn’t know how to get home from that place. I got off right away, but there was only the bus waiting shed and some stores which were closed, as it was late that time. There was no one to ask for help. The ajumma who got off before me walked so fast. I got dizzy searching the route map for a bus going to Janghyeon, and found the number of the same bus I’m taking, but that bus didn’t come. I got tired of waiting for the bus, and that place scared me… it looked like a ghost town. Finally, a young man came. He seemed to be waiting for a bus. I asked him where I could get a taxi, but we couldn’t understand each other. I couldn’t speak Korean well, and he couldn’t speak English at all. Finally, I decided to call my knight-in-shining-armor, my husband of course. I told him that I was lost and asked him to pick me up. I didn’t know exactly where I was, so I walked a few blocks to find a sign or a restaurant that’s easy to spot. I found a hagwon that has a big sign and next to it is a tire shop. Across from the tire shop, there is another bus stop. I stayed there, described the location to my husband and waited for him for about 15 minutes. When he came, he was smiling and motioned to me to cross the street. When I saw that Omonim was with him, I was embarrassed.
That wasn’t the first time I got lost in Korea. I got lost in Guri once when I took the bus instead of the subway. One of my co-teachers told me that I could ride a bus from Deokso to Guri, so I didn’t have to take the subway. She told me that the bus would take me straight to the bus stop where I can wait for bus 88 or 1 going home, but it didn’t take me there. It went the opposite way. That happened two years ago, when I could barely speak Korean. I took a taxi and told the ajossi to take me to Lotte Department Store. My plan was to get off there, and walk to ‘my’ bus stop. I am very much familiar with that route. The ajossi took me to Lotte Mart, not Lotte Department Store! When I told him that wasn’t where I was telling him to take me, he seemed angry, kept blabbering and saying “몰라” (I don’t know.). I didn’t want to argue with someone who couldn’t understand me, so I paid the fare and got off the taxi. I didn’t want to ride another taxi, because I had already spent almost 8, 000 KRW (7.44 USD) (305 PHP) on the first taxi that brought me to the wrong place, so I decided to walk and find a bus stop where buses 88 and 1 pass. Fortunately, after more than 20 minutes of walking and touring bus stops and getting a migraine from searching bus route maps for a bus going home, I found the place where my parents-in-law work. I figured it would be better to go home with them than try to prove ‘independence’ by finding my way home on my own. They were surprised to see me. I told Omonim what happened. She always has a way of understanding my ‘broken Korean’. That was the first time I got lost here in Korea, and I vowed to myself that it would never happen again… but just the other night, I did it again!
We were so busy with the seminar and open house in the hagwon. I had been coming home really late. On Wednesday, I was able to ride the bus at 11:40 P.M. (If wonjangnim had not taken me to the bus stop in Guri, I would have missed the last bus.) I was so beat that I fell asleep right after I took my seat. In fact, my husband called me twice and I didn’t even hear my phone ring! Again, I missed my stop. When I woke up and realized this, my first reaction was, “Ugh! Not again!” I didn’t get off the bus right away. I’ve learned from the first experience of missing my stop, so I got off where there was a shop open and somebody who could help me. This time, my husband couldn’t pick me up, because he works until 2 or 3 A.M., so I had to get home by myself. I searched the bus route map for a bus going to Janghyeon, and waited for that bus for almost ten minutes. It was freezing! I knew I was far from home, because I saw the hotel where my husband and I stayed after our wedding party, and I remember how far that is from Janghyeon. I thought no buses would come anymore, because it was almost 1 A.M., so I asked the ajumma in the shop right next to the bus stop where I could get a taxi. I spoke Korean, and though she knew from my accent that I am not a 한국 사람 (Korean), she understood me. I am not fluent in Korean yet, but it helps to be able to speak the language somehow. When I got lost in Guri, I could barely speak Korean, so I had a really hard time asking for directions. The ajumma who works in the shop was very helpful. She told me that I could walk two to three blocks to where the taxis are, but advised me to wait for a taxi at the bus waiting shed, as they pass there sometimes and it’s very cold to walk. She stayed outside to help me call a taxi and we had a little conversation about where I’m from, how long I’ve been in Korea, why I’m traveling alone that late, etc. Just then , a taxi came. The ajumma waved at the driver. I thanked her for helping me. Not all ajummas are mean and scary, after all. ^^
I told the driver the name of my apartment in Janghyeon. All taxis in South Korea have navigations, but he kept asking me the way to the apartment. I told him to use his navigation, which he did; then my phone rang. It was my husband. I didn’t want to tell him I got lost… again, but it was obvious that I wasn’t home yet, so I told him what happened. “How can you get lost again?”, he asked me. I told him I was exhausted, fell asleep, didn’t hear his calls, blah-blah-blah.
Well, that was the third time I got lost… and I hope it won’t happen again.
- An Unnerving Encounter with a Drunk Man (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- The Annoying People You May Meet On Your Commute (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- Thursday’s Bus Strike in South Korea (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- The Taxi Stop (ttcguy.wordpress.com)
- ʜᴀᴜʟ ✿ Shopping at Lotte Mall Jamsil Store (잠실점) in Songpa-gu, Seoul (runawaymaria.com)
- Highway code misses crucial road rule (confused.com)
- How My Mommy Saved Me… (owonderfulwonderful.com)