transportation


On Sundays I’ve been hearing horse hooves and neighing outside my window. Strange but true, there was a horse drawn carriage trotting through my neighborhood.

It turns out that the local church provides rides for its members.

The one day we venture outside in the cold we actually hailed two lady cab drivers. The first one drove fast and furious, trying too hard to keep up with the “guys.” The second one was dressed in hanbok, traditional all the way down to her shoes. I had to take a picture to memorialize the day (not a holiday) and the outfit.

Lady cab drivers are rare, probably accounting for less than 10% of taxi drivers in Seoul.

Tuesday September 22nd is a “Day Without Cars” in the city of Seoul. There are signs everywhere to mark the day. It begins with free rides on public transportation before 9a…to encourage you to “leave your car behind.”

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There are new bicycle lanes on the sidewalks of Gangnam. They were installed at great expense to help “green” the city of Seoul. Rather, this legitimizes the use of the sidewalk by wheeled vehicles in the minds of Korean drivers (automobile drivers and motorcycle drivers). Pedestrians must step aside for honking drivers who now claim half of the sidewalk.

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Moped parked in the bicycle lane, cars parked on the sidewalk.

There are many ways to and from Incheon International Airport.  Hire a taxi for around 50,000W and you get door-to-door service.  Take the new subway line for about 8,000W.  Ride a limousine bus for around 14,000W.  The turquoise KAL airport bus stops at major hotels in Seoul, the driver handles your luggage and you can read in-flight magazines along the way.  The red airport bus costs less and has more stops ~  popular bus stops, central subway stations and major landmarks in Seoul.  The BTW, getting dropped off by a friend isn’t cheaper since the highway toll to Incheon costs nearly 15,000W each way plus airport parking fees.

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Airport limosine bus stop is easy to understand in any language… and you don’t need to be flying KAL since the airport is a manageable size to find every airline counter upon arrival.

Korean taxi cabs convey their availability using a red light located in the top center of the windshield. The red light reads “빈차/empty car” ~ the ‘taxi’ marker on top is merely decorative.  FYI: black cabs are “luxury” and rides start at 4,000W; basic fare in a standard taxi cab (white, silver, grey, tan, etc.) is 1,900W (less than $2USD).

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Cabs are readily available and a bargain when you split the fare with a friend.  They are often equipped with DMB television among other entertaining electronics (e.g.: 노래방/karaoke).

There is a bus for everything in Seoul. Kids ride a special bus to the hagwon/학원 (tutorial center) or to taekwondo/태관도. The local gym/헬스 has a bus for members.  Sadly, the library bus does not take you to the library/도서관. Instead the bus itself is the library.  And I don’t see it with much regularity either.

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Korea really needs a system of public libraries in buildings, not buses.

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