So South Korea has an AMAZING rail system that crisscrosses the country every which way. If you want to go there, I guarantee there’s a train to get there. If you wanna get there with your bike, good news! It’s possible! But it’s gonna require some planning, some people skills, and if you’re like me and are an awful guest, you’ll need a good translator app.
So I set out to meet a good friend, and fellow road cyclist on a Friday afternoon, from Pohang, all the way to Masan, which is about a 4 hour ride. The reason it’s so long, is that it’s not the KTX, Korail’s premier bullet train. I rode on the Mugunghwa line, basically how the locals travel. The first problem I ran into, was getting my ticket, as I was unable to reserve online, I had to physically go to the counter. There was a major language barrier there, as there always is.
The attendant kept repeating the word “separate” and pointing at my bike. I had no idea what she meant, but I just smiled and nodded. No way in hell am I getting split from my Kestrel! I’d sooner ride the 130 miles to Masan in jeans and a flannel in the summer heat before I let that happen.
Thankfully, my smiles seemed to do something, and they handed me my ticket. My train was leaving in 5 minutes, and I needed to be on it not standing here. So I picked up the bike and started running. I got quite a few odd looks throughout all of this, but hey, I’m living life my dudes.
Literally within seconds of my boarding, the train started to move. WHEW. I scanned the area and found a somewhat sizeable spot to awkwardly jam my bike into. Seeing the seat in front of it was empty, I said f*ck it. And took a seat. I happily sat there for about an hour, but the whole time I was stressed beyond belief by what foreign words my ticket said under “seat” and the wondering of when someone was going to come claim their seat. The train was filling fast.
Eventually my day of reckoning arrived, and a small, very frustrated Korean woman approached me spitting hot fire that I could only assume were vulgarities at me. I tried to respond with what little Korean I knew which typically consists of me saying that I don’t know Korean. She motioned to follow her, and to bring the bike. Okay. Cool. Lead the way!
She dragged me two cars forward, so the third car from the caboose, and motioned to me to stay. Thanks lady! The car was loud, full of people, and I had zero space, let alone for my bike, but if lack of personal space was going to be my only major antagonizer on this trip then I was considering myself lucky. I was wedged up between a crowd of standing passengers, my bike, and a vending machine. Not ideal. Could be worse.
Thankfully, my “suffering” was ended when we approached Busan, the car emptied out from about 30 people, to ten, and I had room to breathe, and move my bike to a better location within the car. After this, the remainder of the journey was pleasant and uneventful.
Learn from my mistakes!
– Take your bike in the standing car
– Board at a slow time of day, to avoid getting packed into a car like a can of sardines
– Enjoy yourself! You won’t get to do this often, so enjoy the ride.
Hopefully this helps someone!