Local Bus Hospitality
7/20/07 - 7/20/07 -17 °C
On Friday morning we packed our bags and checked out of our hotel. We hoped to make it back to Seoul in time for a honor guard presentation at the War Museum. A city bus picked us up on the main drag through Daecheon Beach. There were several seats available for the 15 minute ride to the Boryeong bus station. Not wanting to hassle with taking off the large backpack Stacy and I were sharing, I sat sideways in a seat and let the pack rest against the window. The next seat back was occupied by a small elderly Korean woman with dark hair and a weather worn face and smile. While most Koreans we encountered seem almost shy, it wasn't long before she was chatting away in Korean - not a word of which I could understand. I pulled out the cartoon tourist map we got of the area and pointed to the bus station. She seemed amused, but that clearly wasn't what what her interest was. After a short pause she tried again. I shrugged my shoulders and gave her the "I'm sorry. I'm clueless." look. Some of the other passengers were chuckling and making comments to her - probably something like "Give it up. He doesn't speak Korean." When a third attempt to communicate with me similarly failed with me smiling helplessly, she let her frustration show with curt comment and an open handed wallop on my shoulder. I couldn't help but laugh. Ben and Stacy were across the aisle and stifling snickers themselves.
All the while the bus continued making stops, quickly filling up the remaining seats. As older passengers got on, younger passengers were quick to give up their seats. At the next stop I took my chance and let an older gentleman take my seat and removed the backpack so as not to club any of the other standing passengers. My new guardian would have nothing of this. She climbed out of her seat and in no uncertain terms ordered me to take her seat. Using my lone Korean phrase said, "thank you", and sheepishly sat down. For the remainder of the trip her five foot minus frame stood guard over me and my assigned seat. Soon we arrived at the bus station. I quickly thanked her again and escaped off the bus.