1. Cheongju-Wonju, 2 hours.
2. Wonju-Busan, 4.5 hours.
3. Busan-Jinju, 2 hours.
4. Jinju-Namhae terminal, 3 hours.
5. Namhae terminal-Gachon, 2 hours.
When I said 5 buses later, I wasn’t kidding. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever taken such an effort to get to a single location before in my life. It took the level dedication of a sloth needs to climb from the forest floor to the rainforest canopy. If not for being with Andrea and S – and later HY and WN – I don’t think I would have made it.
At the same time, nothing can beat out the anticipation of a coming trip – not the prospect of 13+ hours on 5 buses, nor waking up at 6am to catch the first one, not even lugging around a giant tent and 2 bags of supplies on top of our personal luggage.
And so we geared up at the terminal’s CU and headed out. I took some prep shots (because what’s a trip with no pictures to prove it).
Then we headed off on the bus. Morning sun evaporated the gray blanket overcasting Korean skies 98% of the time, and we were caffeinated with pure Vitamin D. For about an hour, that is. Then I tried to get some sleep – Scott had passed out almost instantly and Andrea also tried to take a nap.
Guess it had been longer than I thought though, because already we were at a rest stop. Used the squatters, got some breakfast sausages (om nom nom), and took some selfies.
We arrived in Busan around lunchtime and discovered we couldn’t take a bus directly to Namhae as we’d thought. I remembered from a blog my mom had linked me to that another couple had come up against this same predicament and that they’d got around it by bussing to Jinju where they caught a connecting ride.
(For anyone using this post for advice in the future – if you can get a ticket from your hometown to Masan instead, you can catch a bus to Namhae; it’s also a much more direct route instead of spanning the whole Southern coast).
Then we came up against a decision: did we want to stay in Busan overnight to drive in with AX and JY or catch the bus to Jinju and arrive in Namhae today?
S was voting for AX and JY (get to see a bit of Busan, save money on all the extraneous bus tickets, it’s more direct, and AX and JY are always a good time!), and I was voting for Namhae right away (less time in Busan, but more time camping in rural Namhae).
We discussed over lunch and decided to head to Namhae right away, and so caught the next bus leaving Namhae, just 10 minutes later (this was miraculous, as I’ll explain at length in a later post; for the moment though, understand that this holiday was so busy that we’d had to cancel our vacation plans twice and had to leave Saturday morning instead of Friday night because of all the buses being sold out).
So another two hours on the bus to Jinju, and another three to Namhae, and we arrived!
Sweaty, exhausted, and motion sick (on my part, since I’m cursed with nausea and no sleep on buses), we dragged our affairs into the Namhae terminal and stumbled into a frozen yogourt cafe.
With absolutely impeccable timing, HY and WN arrived within a half hour – having taken an entirely different route (11am departure from Wonju to Masan to Namhae).
And so we decided to stock up on camping goods – namely 5 bottles of makkeoli, a bottle of raspberry wine, beer, and various forms of unhealthy and mismatching food (such as bugles, black olives, sweetbread, and seaweed chips). We balanced it out by buying a huge carton of strawberries and a 1.5L bottle of blue Powerade – to nurse our expected hangovers the next day.
I was sad we didn’t have a camp cooker stove because the ramyeon looked so good and there was so much of it…
We also got slightly distracted by humourous bags of rice…
Nor, upon our exit from the grocery store, did we miss noting the strip club sandwiched between the terminal and the grocer’s.
Now all we needed to do was get the right bus to the beach. We’d decided on Sachon beach for its isolated (read: untouristed) location. We were all very ready to set up camp and not move for three days.
As one might imagine for a rural island’s bussing system, there was only one bus for the whole island. This was good because it meant that it substantially lowered our chances of taking the wrong one. All we had to do was pay for where we wanted to get off, which was a bit less than 3, 500W, or $3.50.
It was a bit of a bummer that we’d be setting up camp in the dark (our bus was leaving at 8pm and would take about an hour and a half) – not to mention that we’d missed out on such a beautiful day, charging full speed ahead on poorly ventilated commutes rather than basking in the Southern sea air and sun.
Still, we were not to have our moods deflated! We were going to get drunk on the beach tonight to the lullaby of waves, the strum of ukuleles (which Andrea and I had both brought), and maybe even the crackle of a fire if we could manage to conjure this most primal element.
To our surprise, however, we did not get to set up camp. We did not get to sea the ocean or even arrive at Sachon Beach. Fate, it seemed, felt the need to intervene.
To be continued…