Friday, July 13, 2012

Bus Breakdown

So...I had always wondered what would happen if a bus broke down on the way to Seoul. Today, I got to find out.

I decided to head to Seoul early to go try a cake pop at Cafe Jubilee for breakfast before meeting some friends for lunch at Ho Lee Chow. The M5107 bus is one of the more convenient buses to Seoul from Yeongtong as it's one of the express buses. It makes very few stops, doesn't allow standing in the aisles, and gets you from Yeongtong to Seoul Station in about an hour. For 2000 won, not too shabby.

I caught the 8:30 am bus (super early for me on a Saturday, btw) to make sure I'd be able to get a seat and be on my way early. The driver seemed to be a really nice guy since he didn't take off from the stops immediately - he waited a few minutes to see if anybody else was going to show up since we still had 12 seats empty on the bus. And off we go out of Suwon! Just as we get out of Suwon and onto the highway towards Seoul, the driver starts to pull over off of the road. I thought he was going to stop and see if a truck that was pulled over needed a ride to Seoul, but apparently we were having our own problems. I didn't notice anything unusual about the ride, but I guess when you drive one of these things all the time, you get used to them and how they should run. The driver says something in Korean, grabs his white gloves, and hops off the bus. He comes back a minute later and gets back in his seat and appears to be messing with the air brakes or something (I really have no clue, though, but that's what it sounded like). He announces something to us then turns the bus off and back on - I assume to see if he can reset whatever the problem is. No luck. He starts making a phone call and starts to hook up the bus mic so he can talk over the bus speakers. As luck would have it, the mic wasn't working. This just wasn't the poor guy's day.

I can only understand bits of what he's saying, but I hear "10 minutes" so I figure that's not too bad. However, the woman across the aisle from me has a suitcase with her, so I assume she really needs to be getting somewhere - probably one of the airports. The woman next to me starts making phone calls, so I guess she's supposed to be somewhere, too. People start asking questions and the driver answers to the best of his ability. I just shrug and figure I'll follow the mass if we have to make a mass exodus off the bus.

After a few minutes, a few people get up and get off the bus (the ones that REALLY needed to get to Seoul). A few minutes later, I see another M5107 with a few people standing in the aisle pull out from behind us and get back on the highway. The next M5107 out of Suwon stopped to pick up the few people that were in a hurry even though it was full. A few more minutes go by and people start getting up. A lady stops by me as she's getting off (I was in the very front seat) and looks at me and says, "Come on, we're changing buses." I thought that was very nice of her - I guess I had the "confused waegookin" look on my face. So we all hop off the bus and get on a new M5107. As we're getting on the new bus, our other driver looks at me and smiles and said "thank you" and something else. I just told him "thank you" and smiled back. And we were back on the road to Seoul. Overall, the breakdown didn't put us behind too far since I spotted the lady with the suitcase at Seoul Station when I got off the bus. I just felt kind of bad for the driver - he was stuck there waiting for a tow truck or mechanic or something.

So, if your bus breaks down, don't worry and just sit tight: a new bus will be on its way soon to collect you all.

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