Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Seoul Train

When it comes to traveling and going out to Seoul from Suwon, you have your pros and cons. Seoul is definitely where you go to have some fun, so I tend to overlook the cons because the pros kinda outweigh them.

So what first, the good news or the bad news? Let's go with the bad news first so we can look forward to the good news, shall we?

Alright, the cons:
  • 1 1/2 hour - 2 hour metro/train travel (depending where in Seoul you are going to). This is the time it takes just to get to Seoul. This means that I must leave Suwon relatively early if I need to get to the place in Seoul at a specific time. Relatively early being right after work.
  • If I want to take the metro home, a good rule of thumb is to leave wherever I am no later than 10:30pm. If I don't, then the metro will most likely close down on me and then I'm forced to take a taxi. If I catch all the right trains, I usually get home in an hour and a half, which puts me back in Suwon at 12:00 am. This is a con, because I am leaving early but still getting home late.
If I want to stay later than 10:30pm in Seoul I have two options: I can take a taxi or I can wait for the metro to start running again.
  • Taxi's cost between $30/$40 (30,000 won/40,000 won) to get from Seoul to Suwon. When you are with others, this is more plausible. The only time I've taken a taxi by myself from the Seoul area back to Suwon was when the trains stopped running on me and I had work the next day.
  • The metro is back up and running around 5:00am. This puts you back in Suwon around 7 or 8 am, depending if you fall asleep on the metro and miss your stop or not. You can only really take this option on a weekend, and even then it screws with your sleep pattern. Going to sleep around a time when you usually wake up, well, let me just say you spend the rest of your weekend trying to get back on track. And regardless of your efforts, you still may be tired come workday Monday.

After reading that you must think, "Wow. Why would you ever stay out late in Seoul?! You crazy mf'er!" Well, here are the pros:
  • It's Seoul. Do I have to say more?
  • Everything you could possibly think of doing is in Seoul. The times I have gone out have been totally worth every moment; you have so much fun that all the effort it takes doesn't matter in the end.
  • Metro time seems to pass quickly. The hour and a half it takes never seems that long. On most cell phones you can get tv for free, so you can just watch instead of idly wait. Also, the seats are heated, which is quite lovely. At most stops, there are places where you can purchase food and drinks, something to do when you are waiting for the train to come. And if you are worried about packin on the pounds, just walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the escalator.
  • There are other options than what I've stated above. I know you can use the bus system, which I hear is faster (unless it's during rush hour), but I haven't figured it out yet. And figuring it out may take some more literacy in Korean, which I also haven't figured out yet.
  • So there is the metro (subway) and then there is the train (korea rail). Up above I use the term "train" in reference to the metro, which isn't exactly correct because they are two different things. Korea rail can be a lot quicker if your location in Seoul is close to a major area, but you have to leave from Suwon Station. The train takes 30 minutes as compared to an hour and a half, and doesn't cost that much more. When I use the train, I generally get a ticket for $2.50. But the trains do book up quickly and stop running earlier than the metro, so most of the time it makes more sense to take the metro. But when everything works out, the train is faster and nicer.
  • I have read online that you can stay at a hostel for the night, where they give you pajamas, towels, and shower shoes, all for only $8 (8,000 won) but I haven't tried that either.
If you are done partying and want to take it easy before the metro starts running, there are plenty of places to go.
  • You can go to a DVD Bang, which is a place where you rent out a room with a ginormous tv and you also rent a dvd to watch. If you are in Seoul with a bunch of people who are not from your city, this is makes sense. Otherwise, it would make more sense just to catch a cab. I think it costs around $20/$30 (20,000/30,000 won) but all the times I've gone, someone else has paid for it.
  • You can go to a Norebang, aka Karaoke. Just like the DVD bang except you rent out a room with a ginormous tv and you sing Karaoke. The last one I went to was 30,000 won, and everyone paid like 5,000 won ($5). Not to shabby if you ask me.
  • You can always go and eat food. The street vendors are always open late at night, and a lot of the restaurants are open late as well. This is also good after you've been drinking for hours.
Even though you may not be convinced that it's worth it, trust me it is. I think everyone living here would agree with me as well. Seoul is where everyone goes to have a good time.

Do I wish I lived in Seoul? Sometimes, it would make traveling a lot easier. But that's the only reason really. Suwon is great. I love the school I work at, I love my job, my co-workers, the students, my apartment... I know others who work in Seoul and it seems as though they don't have such a nice set up like I do. Suwon is a big city too, so there are places to go out and things to do here. With that all said, if I renew my contract I would stay in Suwon.

Suwon is a great place to live, Seoul is a great place to go out to.


  1. This is all very good information to know about my future home. ;)

  2. "Seoul Train" - cute play on words (I remember the tv show, and the song...:). Going into Seoul from Suwon for some fun, but not wanting to live there, kinda sounds like going to 'The City' - San Francisco - from Humboldt County. The overnight options are great (gonna try the $8 hotel? At least you'd get some sleep that way!) I'm glad you are so happy there!

  3. @aftertherace: damn straight! but you know i'll be your personal tour guide :)

    @susan: more like going to San Francisco from Sacramento :) I've looked into spending the night, but it's about the same cost as a taxi back home.

  4. Very true! When I lived in Suwon, I avoided the subway and took the above ground train (Korail) to Seoul Station. 30 minutes from Suwon Station!