February 23, 2024

Yes, we took the train from Busan and not the other way around that is the zombie movie, “Train to Busan”, of my favorite Korean actor, Gong Yu.

A two-hour trip on the Korean Train Express that was precise to the second in its arrival at Seoul Central Station, South Korea was an adventure we took while we were at Busan, Korea on a business trip on Rotary International sister club Saechangwon Rotary Club’s invitation.

We boarded the bullet train at Changwon City at 12:55 p.m. The marvelous impressions of Korean efficiency in Busan was about to end after some 48 hours with our generous hosts and we were about to embark on another 24 hours in Seoul before our flight to Manila from Incheon Airport.

Booking the tickets was a breeze because we asked secretary Lee Sun Cheol to book us on the train which was an equivalent of 60,000 won per head.

At the train station in Changwon, our send-off party that included president Choi Yongsoo, past president Shin Myung Kwan, and president-elect SeoEunsoo, and Cho Yeonggeae were always worried about the sub-zero temperature outside. We were led to the small heated passenger waiting area for the five minutes wait.

Then we were escorted to our car no. 4 and our bags left in the corridor before they finally said goodbye and of course we couldn’t stop saying “kamsamida” or thank you for the hours of fun and the formal meeting for our joint global grant project.

The chairs on the KTX are comfortable and have wide leg rooms. The windows allow a full view of the scenery on both sides of the train which to us was a treat, we were of the impression that we would zing past everything in the 320 kms distance to Seoul.

This whole trip would take two hours and 41 minutes at the speed of 305/kms. per hour.There are about five train stations along the way with an average of five minutes for passengers to board or get off. The train wasn’t full but one could see that the riders were of upper income status in business suits and well dressed, after all, this train comes with a handsome $71 dollar fare per person.

One is awed by the well-groomed countryside of Korea that represented much of the agricultural areas that are fallow perhaps due to the sub-zero temperature of winter. There were some greenhouses along the garden patches but most land were brown and neatly flattened. There are city centers that are scattered along the way with high rise condominiums and busy roads. There were some zones that looked like industrial sites, much like what we witnessed at Changwon where manufacturers occupy a common site.

It wasn’t boring at all since we would pass areas in 10 seconds, the other bullet trains going in the opposite direction would whirr past us in five seconds. Those were the only signs that we were indeed running fast without a bump or hump.

Reaching our destination, the Seoul Train Station was almost like the airport with tubes that led you out into a gargantuan lobby where everyone was off in different directions and floors to catch their trains.

The Pinoy probinsyanos could not read the Korean signages and had to go via information center to find the taxi stop where we would catch a ride to our hotel in Myeong-dong for the next adventure in -7C. The taxi drivers are courteous and charge only what the meter reads. We were happy that our Skypark Hotel was a 7,600 won trip from the train station.

To those who will seek the similar adventure, we warn you that you cannot use your phone in the train and neither can you eat. So, that’s discipline we don’t have.

No zombies on this train from Busan. – Nonnette C. Bennett