So far I’ve had little problem getting around Seoul – once I got used to the subway system and it’s quirks. Looking at signs isn’t usually the problem, since there’s enough English to go around. One problem that cropped up recently was when I was trying to get home near the time the subways shut down (between 11:30pm and midnight, give or take). They’ll make an announcement (ONLY in Korean, of course) about the subway making it’s last stop, or that the last train headed in a given direction is leaving now… It’s kind of funny that the city never seems to sleep – especially on the weekends – but the subway shuts down at midnight…

So what’s a traveler to do? The first time it happened, I was fortunate enough to be walking next to a Korean who spoke English going my way. We found our way into a taxi which took us back to the station I live closest to, and from there I walked home. From what I understand the taxis run 24/7, but you pay a 20% premium if you use one after 11pm or so.

The second time it happened (Wednesday night), I was trying to walk to where the trains transfer to a different line when a security officer stopped me, and in broken English explained that there wasn’t going to be another train. At this point, I’m not alone – there are at least several dozen Koreans who were hoping to transfer like me. We made the walk out the exit, where I ran into another Korean trying to make his way back to my area. He suggested I follow him onto the bus – since he knew where he was going and lived close by, I said sure. It turns out the bus system will take a lot more time to learn, and I’m grateful that he knew which bus to get on and at which stop to get off. The card you use on the subways (T-Money card) can also be used on the buses – nice to not have to fumble for change or hope you have smaller bills. The buses typically follow the subway lines for awhile – then they turn around to finish their loop. To go very far, you’ll have to transfer buses multiple times. In the end, you have to know where and how far each bus goes, which stop you get off on (which isn’t in English!), and which bus to transfer to (if you need to transfer). I think I’ll stick with the subway for the time being 🙂