Today was a hectic day. Hectic and frustrating. In my first post, I raved about the glorious world of smartphones… but the greatness of a smartphone is sorely diminished without access to the internet or even a sim card.
Its now 19:32 and we have been at our host family’s house for just over two hours. This morning we wrote the them and told them we would be at the station at 2 O’clock. And at that time we were sure we would. We had it all planned; we would be out of the hostel by 9 and still have time to buy sim cards, a camera and get breakfast. It was great! We were starting to get used to the city of Seoul and we liked it. Breakfast was nothing short of perfect: Gimbap and Ramen.
After breakfast we wandered leisurely towards the station where we would take the train to a tourist information office. I tell you, this is an important step… With a language barrier as unyielding as the one we face, our only hope of finding a sim card was in one of these tourist offices. It really is something else to travel to a country where you cant even read the letters. Nonetheless, we got the information we needed and went on our merry way to get the mobile data we so required. Unfortunately, its not so easy in South Korea. We ended up with one sim card and no way to activate it. We powered on.
We bought a camera. One more errand checked off the list and we had more than enough time. Enter the panic: we cannot find the train station. All we had was a screenshot of the destination and no clue where we were. After aimlessly trying to decipher the street names, an elderly man helped us. This man was a godsend, a miracle, everything we needed at the moment, and we couldn’t even say ‘thank you’ to him in his mother-tongue. This man walked us all the way to the station.
The time is 14:03. We were already late and not even on the train… but for the moment all we could think about was sitting down and taking off our heavy, heavy backpacks. And that we did.
Enter second phase of panic. We have no way to contact the hosts without a phone or internet. For all the talk about South Korea having unbelievably fast internet, we could not seem to find any. After we got off the train and there was no sign of the host, we talked to people at the station, to no avail. We walked around the town for what felt like hours, trying to find a hotel or something that could help us. Then we find a Dunkin’ Donuts, and they have free wifi. This was it. We called the hosts and arranged for them to pick us up.
And here we are; happy after a nice meal and shower. So do me a favour, Louise? Remind me to not rely so much on technology next time.