Monday, 10 May 2010

The Long Ride Home

I was returning home from Daegu. What was supposed to be an hour and a half bus ride to Andeok turned into a horrible, horrible experience.

I remember it well… Getting my bus ticket from the booth at the Dongbu (East Daegu) Bus Terminal felt like routine. I was greeted by the man sitting beside the turnstile, checking tickets. He immediately recognized me after past countless times of “Andeok? You mean Andong, right? Why do you want to go to Andeok?” This time, however, he just smiled, punched a hole through my flimsy ticket, and let me pass.

I was heading towards the bus that was labeled ‘Yeongcheon and Andong’ – my usual route. The driver, who was smoking a cigarette on the bench beside his bus, shouted to me, “Where are you going?” I shouted back, “Andeok! Not Andong…An-DEOK.” He nodded, yelled back a Yeeaah! (the Korean equivalent of yup) and I proceeded to get onto the bus.

The bus stopped first in Yeongcheon, which seemed normal to me. The bus I usually take always stops in Yeongcheon. I was satisfied that I didn’t have to stare out the window to make sure of where I was going…so I dozed off for a little bit.

When I opened my eyes, everything was fuzzy. For a few minutes, my eyes were glazed over and I couldn’t distinguish blur from blur outside the window. When I could finally make out the word MOTEL plastered on many of them, I started to get suspicious. Everything looked out of the ordinary. I glanced up at one tall building and thought that I saw the word Pohang in big, vibrant, blue letters. Shaking it off, I waited until I could see something that I recognized. I went over the securities I had set before I entered the bus – I had confirmed with the bus driver that I was heading towards Andeok and that the bus onto which I was boarding was labeled ‘Yeongcheon and Andong’.

The bus stopped. The bus driver started coming down the aisle, collecting tickets along the way. I handed him my ticket and he studied it intently. Then there was the shouting. The driver was screaming at me and I had no idea why. Of course, I found out seconds after the foam had disappeared from his mouth. This bus was directed towards ‘Yeongcheon, Pohang, and then to Andong’. I countered his screaming with the fact that I had confirmed my destination with him, twice. He didn’t listen. Frustrated, he continued down the aisle, until he had collected all of the tickets, went back to his seat, and continued driving.

Only a few minutes had passed when we stopped at the next bus station – Pohang. I was far east of my destination, an hour and fifteen minutes away from home, and the last bus to Andeok had left an hour earlier. As I exited the bus, he snatched my ticket from my hand and shooed me off of the bus. Thanks Mr. Bus Driver. You really screwed up my night.

Now, I could’ve stayed in Pohang for the night. I could’ve slept in a motel and enjoyed the luxuries of a moderately-sized city. But no. I wanted to be at home, relaxing with Ken and watching a movie.

As I was trying to reason with the women at the Pohang ticket booth, a bus moderator tried to help me with various routes that I could take back home. Each potential option was shot down by the women…it looked like I was stuck in Pohang.

However, the sweet old moderator grabbed my arm and wasn’t going to give up. He was determined to get me back to Andeok. He explained my situation to the manager of the bus terminal, I was soon swarmed by five men, all trying to find a solution to my predicament. I don’t know how they did it, but after twenty minutes of talking on their cell phones, they found one taxi driver who was willing to drive me to Andeok for 40,000 won ($40). I was flabbergasted that they had arranged this for me and I was also a little scared that a stranger was willing to drive me an hour and a half northward to Andeok.

The taxi ride wasn’t too bad, except for the eerie silence that lingered throughout the car. The mysterious darkness of the countryside and the vast emptiness of the farmlands kept me wide-awake for the entire duration of the trip. My hands were quivering, ready to strike at the eyes, or throat. My feet were shaking, ready to kick the groin of anyone coming too close to my personal bubble.

Luckily, I didn’t have to maim anyone. Except for the unforeseen situation where the driver tried to charge me 10,000 won more, I arrived home safely, learning my lesson to never put my trust in bus drivers again. This experience will not happen a second time around.

- Jess

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! What a terribly, nasty busdriver...I wonder who pee'd in his cheerios in the morning? I'm so glad that you made it home safe and sound to Ken.