I’ve been lucky to see some cool sights around Cheonan, but I was itching to get out of the city. I didn’t move to Korea to just hang out in the same town all the time.
So I picked a Saturday that wouldn’t be too cold and gross and hopped on a bus to Seoul.
I’m fully aware that you can’t see Seoul in one Saturday, but you need to start somewhere.
From Cheonan, you have several transit options. I could take a high-speed KTX train. I could take the subway. Or I could take an express bus.
I knew some other teachers took the express bus into Seoul and they said it was a simple option. They also said you could buy your tickets at the bus terminal right before you wanted to leave.
I could have gone to the ticket counter and ordered tickets the old-fashioned way but I saw everyone else using the touch screen kiosk.
Naturally, the kiosk for buying tickets was only in Korean. My strategy was to push every button until I found something that seemed correct.
I found a button that said “Seoul” and pressed it because that had to be the direction I needed to be in. A screen popped up with a time table and I picked the next available time. It showed the cost of the bus ride and the duration.
A one way ticket to Seoul from Cheonan was 5,400 won or $5.40. The bus ride was one hour long on the dot.
The bus itself was comfortable. There was a big screen tv at the front of the bus playing news, but it didn’t have sound. The chairs were soft and you could close the curtains over the windows. My seat mate was snoozing, so no bus chatting for me.
And most importantly, it was clean.
I got into Seoul at 11:30 am and the first thing I did was find a Kimbap Nara and chow down on lunch. I know Seoul has countless delicious eateries but I didn’t really want to spend too much money on food in case I found clothes that actually fit me.
Now this trip didn’t showcase my planning expertise. I also didn’t have a phone plan at the time so I couldn’t just use the internet freely, I needed to leech off whatever free wifi I could.
I knew the places I wanted to go to were all on Line 2 of the subway. The Seoul bus terminal was connected to a subway station. This particular subway station was not on Line 2 so I needed to take the subway to a station where I could transfer.
Fortunately subway stations in Seoul are filled with English signs for clueless foreigners who didn’t bother to download maps. I just followed the giant signs for the subway that said it was going to Konkuk University.
Of course reading Korean helps, but if you are just visiting Seoul, you could probably get away with just reading English.
Konkuk University station is on Line 7 from the bus terminal subway station and is also on Line 2. If you look at a subway map in Seoul, they tell you which stations allow transfers.
I already know I prefer subways to buses in Korea. No one is holding on for dear life and no one has to run for their seat before the driver guns it.
Once I made it to Konkuk University station, I transferred over to Line 2 (which was easy to find since a giant sign told me where to go) and headed to Euljiro-3-ga Station.
What is at Euljiro-3-ga Station you ask? I was there to see the Cheonggye Stream.
It wasn’t crowded since the windy winter is not the ideal time for hanging out by a body of water. I will have to go back in the summer.
I enjoyed getting to walk around without the crowds but I didn’t stay long, I wanted to see Hongdae.
I continued on Line 2 to Hongik University station. The area surrounding Hongik University is called Hongdae. I wanted to stop by Ehwa Women’s University too, but I ended up loving Hongdae too much.
Hongdae is the young, trendy hipster oasis of Seoul. It surrounds Hongik University. Since Hongik University is known for its fine arts instruction, it makes sense Hongdae is an artist mecca.
You just walk out of Hongik University station in any direction and you will see vendors selling key chains, clothing that was way to small for me, cell phone cases, and every other kind of artsy accessory. Street art was everywhere, and I mean art. Why can’t all street art be this charming?
Hongdae is where Korea’s indie bands and artists go to perform. I didn’t go to any clubs, but there was a guy rapping in the middle of the street to an enthusiastic crowd.
While one half of Hongdae seemed like party central, the other half was a quiet residential neighborhood with little independent coffee shops and clothing boutiques in and around the houses.
I only stayed in Hongdae until 5 pm. I walk on the wild side, I know. I was worried that I would miss the last bus to Cheonan and then I would be stuck in Seoul for the evening.
Although that probably wouldn’t be a terrible situation.
But I dragged myself back to the bus terminal, ate a snack and made the return trip to Cheonan. I know I will be back to Seoul sooner than later. There are only a million more neighborhoods I need to see