Hunting T-Money with Mr. Park

Brushing the teeth….

That was my main problem that morning. There wasn’t proper place to do it. In contrast to airports, which generally have five-star hotel class toilets. This was ta bus station, man!

Not having time to think about having breakfast, I immediately got up, carried my blue backpack back, continuing my identity as a backpacker. Now I was going to downtown.

Being at Seoul Express Bus Terminal meant I was at southern end of the city, stucked all night in Seocho District, waiting for the first train to operated. I rushed to Express Bus Terminal Station….Yupz, that was the station which was integrated with bus terminal where I spent the night.

Meanwhile, the residue of frozen air still lingered on my epidermis as soon as I took half a step out of terminal gate. “Crazy…”, I thought to myself. I hastened my steps by increasing the tempo of my feet towards station gate.

“Damn…”, the gate was still blocked by standing barrier.

“I can’t enter yet…”, I thought to a conclusion.

Hurry back to bus terminal. I decided to wait for an hour, more than half an hour from fist train which operated.

A hour that I took advantage of by re-opening Seoul Metro line map sheet. It had one line more than Singapore’s MRT lines.

Even sixty minutes of waiting, now I was repeating my trail before towards the gate of Express Bus Terminal Station. The standing barrier had disappeared, a sign that the station had opened itself to every guest.

Entering station building, Christmas trees were still welcoming even though it was already third day of January, the statue of Santa Claus with his nine favorite reindeer greeted me and right in the corner there was a fat security guard who always smiling. He swiftly grabbed his hat and white T-Stick and jogged toward me. It seemed that he understood that I wasn’t a resident of “Ginseng Country”, therefore, he intended to help. Although actually, I was more challenged to find for the platform in my own way. But, It was OK.

Security: “Hellooo, where wil you go?”

Me: “Hongik University Station, Sir”.

Security: “Oh, OK. Where are you coming from?”

I was Indonesian”

Security: “Hmmh, Malaysia?”

Me: “No, Sir, Indonesia. A country at the south of Malaysia”.

Security: “Oh really, follow me!…follow me!”

I stalked him from behind

“This way”, he pointed to a passageway towards one of platforms”.

“Thank you, Sir”, I ended the conversation before he returned to his post.

Down the hall to the end, I started looking for ticket vending machine. The machine was on a side. The hallway was still quiet, allowing me to exploring the machine’s screen. Diligently browsing the screen, not a single word could lead me to get One Day Pass.

I came up with an initiative to confront the station attendant. The room was clearly over there. Two uniformed staff seemed to start the day at their desk. I was already knocking at glass door and their gazes in unison headed towards me then accompanied by a wave of one of them as a sign that they invited me to enter to face him.

Me: “Good morning, Sir?”

Staff: “Yes, can I help you?”

Me: “Does Seoul Metro sell One Day Pass for passenger?”

Staff: “No No No, you must buy a regular card”

Me: “What is that?”

Having trouble to speaking English, he got up from the chair and headed for the door. He waved at me to follow him. “There!”, he pointed to a machine box.

Feeling the chances of getting a One Day Pass was running low, I gave up and closed the conversation. “Oh, Ok”

My footsteps quickly headed for the machine box. Was curious about what this tech-filled machine could sell. I paused for a moment, observing closely the appearance. I haven’t pressed anything yet until a man stood beside me, he was 40s but still looked fit, smiling and looked educated.

He: “Helloo…..Can I help you? Where are you coming from?”

Me: “Hi, Indonesia, Sirir. Yeaa, I am looking for One Day Pass in this machine, Sir”.

He: “Oh, there isn’t One Day Pass in Seoul Metro. You must buy T-Money for your journey using Metro”

Me: “Oh, yeah”

He: “OK, I will help you to get it”. He started to get closer to the screen, then nimbly pressed buttons until he arrived at the end of execution menu. “You need to insert 3,000 Won into this machine!”

Me: “Oh , Ok, I see”….I put it in and he started to press the final execute button.

The T-Money came out of the machine in neatly white packaged. The man took it and handed it to me.

T-Money packaging.
This is the form of T-Money.

“So now, you can explore Seoul by this. Come on we go to platform!. Where is your destination?”, he started to walk me

“Hongik University Station, Sir”, I tried to keep up with his pace.

“Oh, do you study there?”.

“Oh, No Sir, I am just traveling now. What is your name, Sir?”

“In Chul Park. Call me Park”, he reached out his hand

“Donny, Sir”, I shook his hand.

Now I have a friend to talk during my trip to Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon.

Thank you very much Mr. Park….

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