Saturday, October 24, 2009

Busan Ferry

Of Interest: downtown Busan, including the Busan Film Festival (October)
Lodging: not within sight, but if you walk to the main road there are some within 10 minutes. Ask at the tourist office
Tourist Office: yes. Also a good travel agency
Int'l ATM: There is a branch of the Busan Bank in the terminal
Restrooms: Clean and recently remodeled

I had a roundtrip ticket, but I missed the return date. I was STILL able to use the ticket. People often tell me that the plane is more expensive than the ferry, but discount ferry tickets are as little at 100,000. There regular tickets are good for six months and you don't even have to call if you miss your boat. (I suggest that people do call and cancel, or the company might change that policy.) They are almost the same price as a discount plane ticket which cannot be changed at all.

I took the Beetle/Mirejet high speed hydrofoil ferry that runs to Fukuoka. Kangsan Travel sells tickets and travel packages for this ferry.

There are also overnight ferries to Fukuoka, Shimonoseki, and Hiroshima. Most English speaking travel agencies do not sell tickets to these ferries, although there is a travel agent in the ferry terminal that does. If you can speak a little Korean, it is worth it to check out a regular Korean travel agency for tickets and ferry packages.

If you walk straightish along the road that leads away from the ferry terminal, you will run into a major thoroughfare. From there you have two choices. Turn left for one of Busan's downtown areas (there are more than one) or turn right for Busan Station and KTX trains. There is a subway station at the intersection. It is probably a good idea to get a map from the tourist office before you leave the ferry terminal.

The center of this downtown area is a semi-pedestrian shopping area.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Songtan (Pyeongtaek)

Of Interest - Osan Air Force Base, foreign restaurants, stores with foreign goods
Lodging - several hotels near the main gates of the air force base
Tourist Office - no
Nearest Int'l ATM - I would think there would be one nearby, but I don't where

Most people coming to my site from a google search are looking for Osan. While Osan is a nice little town, I don't think that is what they are looking for. I think they really want to go to Osan Air Force Base which is one subway stop to the south in Pyeongtaek.

To the west of the station is Osan Air Force Base. To the east is the town of Songtan.

The Air Force Base is a fifteen to twenty minute walk from the station. Follow the signs (in English). Between the station and the base are a wide variety of small shops and restaurants, many that serve foreigners, not just Americans. The last time I was there, I ate at a Pakistani restaurant that had an almost entirely Pakistani clientele.

The town of Songtan is a typical suburban town. The area is more modern looking and the buildings are generally bigger than those near the base.

Songtan is on line 1 of the Seoul subway, but I wouldn't go all the way from Seoul on the subway. Take the train to Pyeongtaek and then change. That is usually the quickest way whether you are coming from the north or south. Some trains do stop in Osan, but not many. The nearest KTX stop is at Cheonan-Asan. Go to Asan subway station to change for these trains if you are going to south to Daejeon, Daegu, or Busan. It will probably not save you time to take the KTX to Seoul. Asan is near the end of line 1, and not all subway trains go that far. Only trains that say they are going to Sinchang will go stop at Asan.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fighting Climate Change - a good thing

Here is a short essay on why fighting climate change can make us all happier based on examples from my own life.

In other words, here are the good things that have happened to me after I decided to only travel by public transportation, especially the train.

1. I met my first Korean friend the first time that I got off the train here.

2. I discovered a direction for my writing. (I do most of my writing on the train.)

3. I discovered a really interesting historic site with a fort that is over a thousand years and a building called a hanggyo. I was curious as to the meaning of "hanggyo" so I wrote is down. Later I read an essay where hanggyo were explained, and I remembered what they were. Which is good because the explanations on the tourist markers are wrong.

4. On a trip to visit my parents, I saw a canyon in the Rockies that is only accessible by train and river raft.

5. By randomly taking a bus from an old job, I found a lake that none of my co-workers knew about.

6. I am less sensitive to cold and heat.

7. Which led to me having a fantastic trip by train to the Grand Canyon. No air conditioning. In summer. Actually, perfect. (The Grand Canyon is not Phoenix, however.)

8. I was one of the only people who didn't complain about the heat on a group trip to Hawaii. (By the way Waikiki is a fake beach. There are much nicer beaches on just about every island.)

9. I will eventually think of something else. (See below and Netflix Origami.)

I want to give a shout out to the Sanyo Electric Railway for turning off the lights during the day. There was so much sun that I was getting sunburned with sunscreen on (and I do know to reapply). Also, to the train that had fans instead of air conditioning. Especially since the passengers could turn them off. Which they did. It was cold in northern Japan this summer. I was freezing and then I would get on the train and the air conditioning would be on.

Update: Here is someone who thinks that Americans don't think of bicycles as a form of transportation because they are too much fun. Fun in the Snow

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Of Interest: downtown of a small town
Lodging: no
Tourist Office: no
Nearest ATM: Nong-hyeop Bank next to the station plaza (There is also a Nonghyeop grocery store.)
Computers in station: no

I went to Sintaein, and there was nothing special there. I had a great time. I didn't find any particular tourist sites, but I had a good lunch and a good walk. The town spreads from one side of the station, and the whole place is walkable. Most of the residents are older.

While I was wandering around, I found a street of traditional style houses, many of which had the same design on their roof end tiles. The design looked a lot the crests that were the symbols of the old samurai families in Japan. This is the first time that I have seen something like this in Korea. Further research is needed.

Sintaein is on the Yongsan - Gwangju/Mokpo line in Jeoneup-si.

Photo or photos will be added as soon as my computer problems are fixed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Of Interest: cheap (but good) fruit, downtown Hachinohe
Hotels: yes, scattered. Good prices.
Tourist Office: no
Int'l ATM: There is a post office in the station

One of the meanings of "hon" is origin, and Hon-Hachinohe is the original Hachinohe Station. It serves downtown Hachinohe. The city is scattered so there is a lot outside of downtown including the current Hachinohe Station.

The area in front of city hall is used for community events. To get there exit the station to the north, then walk up the street that is slightly to the left of the exit. I attended part of the local summer festival, Sansha Taisai. There were food vendors from many local restaurants in front of the city hall with local performers entertaining us on a stage to one side. A big part of the festival is the floats that go to different shrines during the festival. There was a booth explaining how the floats are made. I got to make my own miniature float.

Next to the station, there was a store selling fresh fruit for really good prices. Cheaper even than in Korea. There is also a local products store in this station and at Hachinohe Station.

Only one JR East line serves Hon-Hachinohe Station, a local line that serves the Hachinohe area.