Random Mumblings II

Have you been waiting for this?! Okay I decided that my musings SHOULD be organised topically. Therefore, today's one shall be on Public Transport.

1) Pushing and shoving is absolutely common on the trains and buses here. People shove past you to get out. People push you to get in, so on. But then again, you don't really fall because everyone's just packed together like sardines. I was squashed in the middle of 5 middle-aged ahjusshis on the way home 3 days ago. VERY miserable. Some lady was staring at me in pity. I stood in the very same position for 4-5 stops. Note to self: If I ever work in Seoul in the future, I should learn how to drive.

2) People don't really say 'Excuse Me' to get out of the train. Just plain pushing. PS says they say "잠시만요!" (Chamshimanyo/Literally 'Just a moment!') most often, but then again, I don't hear that much either. I tend to use "죄송합니다!" (Chwesonghamnida/Somewhat like 'Sorry!') most. But I realised it's a bit too polite. So okay, I guess you can use "잠시만요!" then.

3) They have designated seats at the corner, 6 total on each end, for the elderly. NEVER EVER sit on those. Or if you must, maybe when the train is absolutely empty. Our first week here, we got shouted at by some ahjusshi, presumably because we were sitting on those seats. They are for the elderly. And they really do give you dirty stares if you misuse it.

4) Bringing me to my fourth point. Because of the presence of such elderly-priority seats, the youth never seem to give up seats to the elderly. Apparently they do! Haha. Every time the few of us give up our seats, most of the elderly are very nice about it and refuse, asking us to sit down instead. If they do take it, they'll be thanking us profusely, leading me to think such occurrences probably aren't very common.

5) The train can be MAD packed and everyone will still be reading their papers, watching their mobile TVs and reading books. WTHBBQ. We were dying of space constraints yesterday while taking the train with our huge backpacks, but everyone around us were just doing the above-mentioned activities. Amazes me how some actually read the papers on the train. Papers are like how big can?

6) They sell almost anything on the trains. Back braces, shoe polishes, lottery tickets. Usually less than 2000 KRW a piece. Infamously known for their lousy quality though. Buy at your own risk.

7) Beggars are very common on the trains. Usually its a few visually-handicapped people blasting some tune and walking down the train. Most people just ignore them. Very common to see a few within a day. A few days back, this ahjusshi handed me a piece of paper. He seemed like a beggar but I couldn't make out what he wrote. Think it was to ask for contributions. I left the paper on my bag and listened to my mp3. A few minutes later, he came back and collected the paper to reuse on another train. Wish I knew what the paper said.

8) When it is about night time, especially during weekends, the train reeks of alcohol, usually from all the ahjusshis returning from their after-work drinking sessions. Stay away from them. Some of them can be pretty drunk. Usually they are very, very red. It's quite amusing actually.

9) Korean bus drivers drift like no tomorrow. When on a bus, PLEASE hold tightly to the rails/handles/whatever you can get your hands on. The way Korean bus drivers drive, it's crazy. But then again, bringing my point back to the sardine theory. Since the bus/train is usually mad-packed, even though you might sway like crazy, you won't actually fall because people will be there to cushion you, lol.

10) Most of the buses in Seoul only have one entry and one exit card reader. Don't get why they don't have two. It doesn't make sense. Therefore people get on the bus VERY slowly and get off VERY slowly. The thing is, the bus driver waits for people to get on, but he rarely leaves the door open long enough for people to get off. When this happens, just remember to shout "아저씨!" at the top of your voice to let the driver know that you are still there and haven't gotten off.

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