Day 111

Sunday | June 17th, 2012


I woke up with a nasty set of teeth this morning. No amount brushing got out the meat; makgeoli; chinese, belgian, and Korean beers; the vodka bombs; or the ramyeon I used to pack it all in.

I kept thinking I’d get some food to make my tummy all better, but I didn’t make a bee out of the hotel to the kimbap joint and no horn of plenty was at Cheongju Station either. I thought I’d eat a belly of noodles at Shingyeongju, but Meow and I had a noon appointment to take the dogs to a new peep’s house for some freedom.

At Cheongju Station, mid-lull, to my left and to my right above the platform. Then the scene from below (top).

Train stations have this lull-time that is all their own. Things are quiet and desolate (save for the annoying Korail updates) where you stand and sit around the platform staring at steel tracks or, if you’re lucky, other trains. This lull might be part of why I love taking the train so much.

Most Korail concourses have the same futuretactile architecture of Buckminster Fuller inspired triangular beams but shrouded in modernist glass paneling. The second shot (middle) typifies some of this, but much more cohesive examples would be Seoul Station and Incheon International Airport. The view from the end of the concourse (left) was a cornucopia of not-noodles. On the platform, finally, there was a good train to wait with (right). Unfortunately, Daejeon Station (below), where I transfer to the high speed train that would take me home was not as interesting. (Maybe it was too much big city for me.)

Two things impressed me about the trip:

  1. the countryside is very beautiful regardless of the season, I took some great pictures even from the train.
  2. Korea’s transportation infrastructure bests every place I’ve ever been. Korea’s transportation infrastructure makes America look like Mexico.

I write this on a bullet train cruising a 300km per hour, what is impressive is that there is another bullet train also going my direction, on the same track, roughly nine minutes ahead of this one. That’s badass.

The only reason I’m not on the forward train is I didn’t want to miss the transfer at Daejeon. The local train is sometimes late, even between Cheongju and Daejeon, we came to a full stop on a bend (I think the engineer took a piss). On the trip to Busan last weekend, our train was more than twenty minutes behind because it sat at a Hogye Station while they polished the brakes. Even with the delays, there are so many trains and buses at all the transfer points and most stations, you don’t really wait around to get anywhere. If you do find yourself waiting, it’s due to lack of travel planning—you didn’t get a ticket.

I really only had time enough to pee in Shingyeongju before getting home to drop stuff and help Meow our appointment. In the bathroom, the urinals have these stickers that when you pee on them the pink flames change to a smiley face, like a game (to “help” you not pee all over yourself or the floor). It’s hard to not want to pee on the fire. It’s pretty clever.

It turned out that before we would take the dogs out to MS’s country house we would score noodles. I think another ten minutes and my stomach would have crawled out of my gut and sought a new home. I don’t care for hangovers, but I do enjoy the utter completeness and sense of prolonged-then-achieved-fulfillment with hangover foods. Noodles are never more satisfying than after a few too many drinks.

The house (left) was tucked away in a mini-valley with tons of privacy and greenery—the kind of place Meow and I hope to have some day. Both dogs smelled everything and found moving things to bother and stagnant things to chew on. The both also disappeared almost constantly on the property and had to be hunted down. A few times, I would go behind the house where there was a small field searching for Naughty, only to find that he’d nearly passed out in a crevice of one of the buildings. Other times he was snacking on piles of ancient ddong (shit; at least one of us found his plenty for the day). Twitchy gallivanted about chasing birds and butterflies. She, too would disappear, but was better about coming back to us.

Before we left, we took a walk down the road and met the cows and goats. It was a big change from a few hours before when I scampered up a ladder to scope the lay of the drinking neighborhood.

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