Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Lost in Seoul

Here's the story.

Mr. Lee, my School Director, gave me fairly good directions on how to use the subway here in Seoul. He didn't however, give nearly as clear of directions as to how to find the subway. Minor detail.

I start out on my trip Sunday morning, walking, walking, walking, thinking, the subway should be closer than this. I remember seeing it as we drove past it the other day. (Note, distances in cars may be shorter than actual distances in miror, I mean, on foot.)

With some more vague directions from some people on the street pointing and saying something in Korean, I'll assume it was "the subway is over there" and not something else like, well, you know. ;-), I eventually arrived at an entrance. Now, it should be said that as I was walking looking at the sites around me, I walked right past a subway entrance. Not sure how either, kinda hard to miss, but, if it can be done, I'll find a way.

The entrance that I found was on the other side of a busy road and I needed to cross under an over pass. So I thought, should be easy enough to remember when I come back out and find my way back home. Fatal error # 1.

I went down the stairs, most subways are underground you know, and was given a most wonderful english map of the subway system by a worker, and I was on my way. All of the signs are written in both Korean and English so I could find my way with relative ease. Relative, hmph. I had to transfer trains a couple of times but that was no big deal. All was going well until I got to the split in the line on train route 5. It goes north and south and depending on what train you are on determines which direction you go. Well, as fate would have it, I was on the wrong one. I thought, no big deal. I'll just get off at the next station and catch a train that goes north.

Suffice it to say, after transferring three times, (going north and then heading west back towards home again, getting off and going east and then south again), God sent an off duty engineer my way who put me on the correct train for my destination. See, the trains destination is written in Korean. I don't read Korean, do you? Ya, exactly. :-)

I finally made it to the church, though I missed 3/4 of the service. I"ll write later about the service. Then, after the service, I spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with Mr. Lee and his family. At around 8:00, he walked me to the station entrance, and back on the train I went. I now, thanks to my earlier experience, knew how to distinguish a trains destination by the little symbols on it. They call those funny little symbols Korean. Go figure. All went very well with my return trip.

Then it happened. I arrived at my exiting station, and I had no idea what exit/entrance I had used to enter earlier that day. I took that one that said Sinsadong, which is where I live, and hoped for the best. Well, if what I discovered was the best, I would have hated to see the worst. It makes me shudder just to think about it.

Now, I have never been lost before in my life. I've tried before, seriously, just to see what it would be like, but I have never been able to do it. At best, I've only been temporarily confused. I even went into the Alaskan wilderness by myself for 4 days and 3 nights without a compass. I didn't even come close to getting lost. I had a topographical map and the sun, no watch, and that's all I needed. It was fun by the way.

But when I stepped out of the stairway coming up from the station, I had no clue, let me rephrase that, NO FREEKIN CLUE, where I was. I was lost. Completely lost. It wasn't that bad actually. I didn't freak, I did pray though. I walked around for a bit hoping that I would see something familiar. Ha! fat chance. You see, there are 6 entrance points for this particular subway station. I had no idea which one I had used. Oh, and that busy road with an over pass, well lets just say that it's more common in Seoul than trees are.

So I thought, no prob, I'll call Daniel, one of the other teachers, and ask for directions. No answer. Ok, call Mr. Lee, even though it's hard to understand him over the phone, it's better than freezing to death. My phone died. Great! Now what. Oh good, a taxi driver. Excuse me, "Could you take me to this place, Singu Elementary School". I hand him my home made map from Mr. Lee. "No, you have no idea where this is." Ok, thanks, and thanks for just driving away like that.

Hmmm, some people come over and tried to help me as yet another Taxi driver was clueless and drove away. (I thought taxi drivers were supposed to know everything.) These really nice people are just as clueless and call a friend who says there is a school just down the road from where I am, but it is a midle school not an elementary school, so I know that it's not the way to go, inspite of there insistence.

To there dissapointment I climbed into a taxi who's driver was sure he could get me where I needed to go. He called his base and they gave him directions. Funny thing is, he ended up getting lost, and I told him how to get me where I needed to go. Ha. Once we got going, we turned a corner onto another busy road and I began recognizing things and had to tell him where to turn. Go figure.

So, I actually was lost for the first time in my life. Moral of the story, I have no idea. I just know I made it home a ok. I have to say that to keep my mom from having a heart attack.

Me :-)


At 6:39 AM, Blogger Ken Schrock said...

Yes I know, "to there disapointment" should be "their"

oops, what can I say. I didn't catch it until after I posted. :-P

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Darren B said...


To finish the story... you went out and bought a map of the area and started memorizing the subway symbols so that next Sunday you could attend the _whole_ service :-)

Good to hear that you made it home.

Also, interesting to hear about the spacious living quarters that Mr. Lee has.
Do Koreans aspire to own homes the way that North Americans do?

Ok - tell us a story about your class and how it goes and what the kids think of you.

Thanks for the update,

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous SALLY said...


At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Ken said...

Well, I'm still working on the map thing. After last week though, I pretty well have things figured out. At least in my area going to the Subway. The next Sunday I took SPECIAL care pay attention to what I was doing. And I made it there and back with little incident.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Al Menezes said...

Good read bud! Like I told you before you weren't lost, you were temporarily disoriented. Green people do not get lost.

At 2:49 AM, Anonymous Ken said...

I hate to say it Alan, I was lost. Completely lost. I didn't however loose my head. That's why I made it out ok. I had no freakin clue where I was or where to go. I've been clueless before, (shut up Angela) but I've been able to figure things out. Not this time. I was gone gone gone. I had no, NO, idea which way to head. In fact, if I would have lost my head, I still might be looking for it. :-)

At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Mr. Blog said...

Mr. D,

I've done some more research on the house thing. I'll address it in a futer "Myth Buster" posting. Thanks for the comments and questions.



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