Napping in Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

<—-Previous Story

Forgot to take a photo while staying…. Hihihi.

I was still standing motionless in north of square to enjoying the majesty of Gwanghwamun Gate , the six-century gate belonging to Gyeongbok Palace. Gwanghwamun Square with its andesite rock floor and a mix of green garden grass seemed to be starting to fill up with the flow of tourists visiting.

Apart from the statue of Admiral Yi Sunshin, the golden statue of King Sejong, the Great-the fourth king of Joseon Dynasty was an important destination for travelers. They were too fascinated by that statues when I preferred to pay attention to the bustle of United States Embassy in the edge of Sejong-daero Avenue next to National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.

It didn’t feel like time had passed since midday, the rest of sleepiness after spending the night in Seoul Express Bus Terminal made me unable to hide the sleepiness in my eyelids. My body which hadn’t been soaked in water since 30 hours ago also made me not feel comfortable.

“It’s better to just go back to the inn”, so excited, my mind aborted my enthusiasm to continue exploration. “Damn….I give up this time”, I was groaning in annoyance, I entered the gates of Gwanghwamun Station.

“Goodbye Jongno District”, I quietly thought as I jumped into Seoul Metro Line 5 carriage. Without noticing commotion inside the carriage, I immediately headed to an empty seat near carriage’s connection. Without further ado, I immediately closed my eyes because of sleepiness.

Now, I was heading to Hongik University Station with one stop at Chungjeongno Station because to get to Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon in Seodaemun District I had to take Seoul Metro Line 2.

24 minutes later I arrived at my destination. Before actually leaving Hongik University Station, I took time to go to T-Money card vending machine at the corner of corridor to refill my T-Money which was almost out of balance. That time I filled my Seoul city travel card with 10,000 Won, more than enough for the end of my adventure in Seoul.

My back and forth at Hongik University Station ended up at a G-25 minimarket for a simple lunch. I managed to get a piece of packaged Kimbab for just 1,300 Won. Enough or not, that was the only lunch that I had to accept.

After eating it in convenience store table, I immediately climbed the escalator which rose to surface, passed Sinchon-ro 2-gil alley, crossed Sinchon-ro Avenue, then rushed to the inn.

“Hooohh….You, Donny. Welcome, your room is ready”, said the same receptionist who greeted me this morning.

“Hi, Sir….Thank you. I think I should go to bed soon….Hahaha”, I lihgtly answered while clutching my blue backpack which I had put in the corner of front room since this morning.

“Oh yeah, you look tired”

“Yes, I spent my last night at Seoul Express Bus Terminal”, I agreed.

After receptionist scanned my passport which I gave to him, the room key was given. Not waiting long, I immediately went upstairs, entered the room, took off my winter jacket and shoes, then immediately jumped into bunk bed to daub myself until afternoon.

Next Story—->

Sleeping for a while at Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

On half past nine in the morning, I was arrived at Hongik University Station, down the long corridor of station and went up a long-high escalator to surface. Station’s architecture greeted me with a garden decorated with beautiful flowers combined with several iconic sculptures.

I started down the main alley towards Sinchon-ro Avenue at north of station. As far as I know, the guesthouse which I booked was in an alley across the street. I crossed a single zebra cross at the road in front. Seoul Bus Rapid Transit was dominantly blue and white, with an outdoor AC compartment which extended on its top, complementing its long body, which seemed to be passing by, taking local residents who were starting their activities to appreciating the dawn.

I decided not to ask anyone about the location of guesthouse which I was staying at, I was sure in the middle of a super busy Capital City, it would be very rare for anyone to know where a small guesthouse was located in the middle of an alley in the middle of nowhere.

I picked up a map and quickly figured out which side of the alley to enter. I started entering Sinchon –ro 3-gil Alley and turned right at the first fork. As expected, I would find it easy.

Entering its unlocked door, I found the reception desk which dark and empty. Stairwell, kitchen and dining room equally dim. The guesthouse guests still seemed lazy in their blankets, as if they were reluctant to struggle with cold air outside.

With no choice, I entered the shared lounge which was equally dim, took a seat, put my backpack and cupped my face in my arms to fall asleep sitting down. At least the shared lounge was not as cold as Seoul Express Bus Terminal building that morning.

My sleep was awakened by the noise of someone who seemed to tidy up the reception room. Apparently I had been asleep for an hour. The young Korean man seemed to be looking at me expressionlessly. I rubbed my eyes to make my face immediately refreshed. Getting up from chair and rushedh towards him.

Me: “Hello, I’m Donny from Indonesia. I had booked a room in this guesthouse. This is my booking confirmation”.

He: “Let me see”, he carefully read the details of my sheet. “I think you will get your room on 1 pm, so I’m sorry”, I was amazed by British accent of his English pronunciation.

Me: “Oh, it’s OK. I know that. I just want to put my backpack here and I will go to sightseeing the city”.

Him: “Yeah, It will be better. Just put your backpack there”, he pointed to a corner of room which full of backpacks.

Me: “Ok, thanks, Sir”.

After successfully putting a backpack which started to make my back feel heavy. I immediately left the guesthouse. I had to find some breakfast before heading to my first destination in Seoul. Since talking to Mr. In Chul Park in Seoul Metro that morning, I started to hold back the hunger that attacked my stomach.

Crossing back Sinchon-ro Avenue I entered the alley leading to Hongik University Station. In the alley I slowly walked to find a minimarket. Yups….Finally I found a CU minimarket.

Browsing the shelves which filled with food, I found cup noodles and white rice packets, without hesitation I picked them up and took them to cashier. Like CU minimarket in Busan, CU minimarket Seoul also provides a dining corner, complete with a microwave and hot water. Customers are required to be able to operate that heating equipment and serve themselves to eat the food which they buy.

I, who was really hungry, ate the cup noodles and packaged rice quickly. Then immediately rushed to the first tourist destination.

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….

Waiting for Morning at Seoul Express Bus Terminal

The temperature was dropping….It was already below freezing.

The hour hand of round white clock in the arrival hall was starting to move closer to the first digit in its rotation.

Arrival Gate at Seoul Express Bus Terminal.

Back to ten minutes earlier, when I rushed to fold my t-shirts and socks from bus’ seat when that white and red bus approached at the Seoul Express Bus Terminal.

Welcome to Seoul….It would be the last city in my adventure on early year.

After getting off the bus, every passenger rushed to terminal building to escaping themself from cold city air. For a moment arrival hall turned crowded, several snack and coffee shops which were still open were visited by some passengers. While some others chose to leave the terminal, relying on taxis to continue their journey to their respective end points.

Looking for a place to sleep.

I stood still, watching the location around, looking for a comfortable place to sleep. I already understood that the MRT would start operating this morning, around half past six. So I didn’t have to bother pushing myself towards station building.

The luck came, in the left corner there were two columns of long benches, each with three bulkheads without backrests with iron barriers between the bulkheads. Making it impossible for a makeshift bed on that early morning. I put my backpack in the corner of bench and I sat down to spend the rest of night.

Waiting really quiet to acquiring a bench.

As the clock ticked, passengers who had been enjoying hot coffee and snacks began to leave, leaving nothing but silence. Luckily all shops didn’t close themselves even though the owner must have fallen asleep on the floor in waiting for their wares. At least I didn’t feel alone.

The terminal building was truly human. Clean, bright and safe although I still complained about it because I still couldn’t stand with freezing air from outside. The air entered through glass windows, making me unable to close my eyes at all.

In the midst of silence, I got up, trying to approach food stalls. Observing a few cans of drinks which might be able to accompany me that night. I was solemnly choosing it when suddenly a crowd of passengers crammed into the terminal building. An intercity bus fleet seemed to turn on its hazard lights while getting off its entire load.

Beauty passanger: “Hello, how do I get to downtown?”

Me: “If you want to go there now, you have to take a taxi, Ms. MRT isn’t operating yet now….”. Damn, foreigner like me know better than her as a local resident.

Beauty passanger: “Oh. Is’n operating yet?”, her breath smelled of soju.

Me: “Yes absolutely, you can go by taxi or waiting here until morning”, hoping she can accompany me at the terminal….hahaha.

Beautiful Passanger: “Okay..Okay”, she looked towards the side wall of terminal….”Oppaaaa…….@#$%^&*!?><”. Ah, she even called her girlfriend. My hope had been lost.

I returned to the line of canned drinks, took one of them and redeemed it for 800 Won.

Drink coffee first…

In an instant, the terminal building was quiet again. I sat down on the seat again. This time an intercity bus driver was already sitting in the next row of seats, leaning against the wall and soundly sleeping.

Meanwhile, I was very disturbed by the freezing air, trying to keep moving until morning. Luckily I took the time to sleep on the bus for two and a half hours at my journey last night.

Come on Seoul, come soon the morning sun!….

The Madness in Bus from Busan to Seoul

Slight interval between my arrival and bus departure sweetly paid off, so I didn’t have to wait too long for bus to depart. A few minutes ago, I had asked to one of drivers in order to find a bus which would I take at Busan Central Bus Terminal. His forefinger clearly pointed at the white fleet with a red color. I rushed to bus and asked to its driver who was sitting in front of the parked bus.

“Yes, this bus”, he said when I showed the ticket.

The ticket which I bought this morning with costs 23,000 Won.

He allowed me to get on early on the bus which its machine was slowly starting but bus still neatly parked at the platform. Bus seats were in two columns on each side and I acquired a seat slightly behind. By being on the bus, apart from getting peace of mind because I won’t be left behind, I also got warm air which made me felt comfortable.

One by one local passengers arrived and tried to find their respective seats. Until a minute before departure, bus seats were not full. The driver came and started checking each passenger with a manifest sheet in his left hand. After marking all lists in the manifest,then driver got off, reported to terminal’s officer, then began to sit behind the wheel. The bus was ready to start its long journey with more than half of its seats left empty.

Then bus was slowly moving away from Busan Central Bus Terminal and starting to show off new areas which I’ve never explored before. Bus entered a toll road by showing the silhouette of South Korea’s beautiful hills. Not infrequently bus entered tunnels which splitting the hill. The streets looked deserted at night, only showing night lights along the contours of Korean hills. Unbelievably beautiful.

Passengers have been asleep for a long time, while I, as a foreigner, prefered to enjoy evening shows while enjoying a few slices of bread which I bought from a minimarket in Busan Central Bus Terminal. Yup, I didn’t have time to have dinner properly, because I was being chased by time to catching bus departure since afternoon.

I didn’t realize I had been enjoying street scenery for so long, until finally driver took a break at Sunsan Service Area near Gumi City, precisely in Gyeongsangbuk Province. All passengers got off to just enjoying a cup of hot coffee or at least go for a moment into toilet. Meanwhile, I just decided to walk around rest area while waiting for driver to finishing their dinner.

Sunsan Service Area, where buses did break time.
Bus which I took (photo taken upon arrival at Seoul Express Bus Terminal).

Then that madness came….

Twenty minutes later, bus was ready to leave, and all passengers returned to their respective seats. I rushed to bus and sat back in my seat. After driver counted passengers, then bus headed again to Seoul.

I remembered that in my backpack there were still two t-shirts and a pair of socks which weren’t completely dry. Seeing a quiet situation in bus with all passengers were sleeping with their dream, I took out that t-shirt and socks and then spread them at headrest of seat in front of me, I deliberately did this to dry them out. “Ah, while all passangers are sleeping, it will be Okay …”, I thought while laughing amused.

Then I started to close my eyes to rest, because when I arrived in Seoul, I would stay overnight and have to stay awake at Seoul Express Bus Terminal to then immediately exploring Seoul City in the morning. I had to save energy for that….

I started to close my eyes, the bus would still arrive in next two hours….

Tidur Siang di Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Lupa ambil foto pas nginep….Hihihi.

Aku masih saja bediri termangu di utara alun-alun untuk menikmati kegagahan Gwanghwamun Gate , gerbang enam abad milik Istana Gyeongbok. Alun-alun Gwanghwamun dengan dasar batuan andesit serta paduan hijaunya rumput taman tampak mulai dipenuhi oleh arus kunjungan para pelancong.

Selain patung Admiral Yi Sunshin, patung emas Raja Sejong yang Agung-sang raja keempat Dinasti Joseon adalah tujuan penting para pelancong. Mereka terlalu terpesona dengan patung-patung itu ketika aku lebih memilih memperhatikan kesibukan Kedutaan Besar Amerika Serikat di tepian Sejong-daero Avenue yang bersebelahan dengan National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.

Tak terasa waktu telah bergulir lewat dari tengah hari, sisa kantuk usai bermalam di Seoul Express Bus Terminal membuatku tak mampu menyembunyikan rasa kantuk di pelupuk mata. Badan yang belum terguyur air semenjak 30 jam yang lalu juga membuat tubuh tak merasa nyaman.

Lebih baik pulang ke penginapan saja”, begitu seru batin menggugurkan semangatku untuk melanjutkan eksplorasi. “Sial….Aku menyerah kali ini”, dengan bersungut-sungut kesal, aku memasuki gerbang Stasiun Gwanghwamun.

Selamat tingga Distrik Jongno”, lirih batinku ketika melompat masuk ke gerbong Seoul Metro Line 5. Tanpa memperhatikan keriuhan di dalam gerbong, aku segera mengarah ke tempat duduk kosong di dekat sambungan. Tanpa basa-basi aku segera memejamkan mata saking kantuknya.

Aku kini menuju ke Stasiun Hongik University dengan sekali transit di Stasiun Chungjeongno karena untuk menuju Kimchee Guesthoouse Sinchon di Distrik Seodaemun aku harus menunggang Seoul Metro Line 2.

24 menit kemudian aku tiba di tujuan. Sebelum benar-benar meninggalkan Stasiun Hongik University, aku menyempatkan diri menuju T-Money card vending machine di pojok koridor untuk mengisi T-Moneyku yang hampir kehabisan saldo. Kali ini aku memenuhi kartu perjalanan kota Seoul itu dengan 10.000 Won, angka yang lebih dari cukup hingga akhir petualanganku di Seoul.

Hilir mudikku di Stasiun Hongik berakhir di sebuah G-25 minimarket untuk sekedar makan siang seadanya. Sepotong Kimbab kemasan berhasil kudapatkan dengan harga 1.300 Won saja. Kenyang atau tidak, hanya itu jatah makan siang yang harus kuterima.

Usai menyantapnya di meja minimarket, aku segera menaiki escalator yang menjulang menuju permukaan, melewati gang Sinchon-ro 2-gil, menyeberangi Sinchon-ro Avenue, lalu bergegas menuju penginapan.

Hooohh….You, Donny. Welcome, your room is ready”, begitu sosok resepsionis yang sama sejak pagi tadi menyambut kedatanganku.

Hi, Sir….Thank you. I think I should go to bed soon….Hahaha”, aku menjawabnya ringan sambil merengkung backpack biru yang sedari pagi kutaruh di pojok ruangan depan.

Oh yeah, you look tired

Yes, I spent my last night at Seoul Express Bus Terminal”, aku mengiyakan.

Usai resepsionis itu me-scan passport yang kuberikan, kunci kamar pun diberikan. Tak menunggu lama, aku segera naik ke lantai atas, memasuki kamar, melepas winter jacket dan sepatu, kemudian segera melompat ke bunk bed untuk memulaskan diri hingga sore nanti.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Lelap Sejenak  di Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Pukul setengah sembilan pagi, aku sudah merapat di Stasiun Hongik University, menyusuri koridor panjang stasiun dan menaiki escalator panjang an tinggi menuju permukaan tanah. Tata arsitektur stasiun menyambutku dengan taman berhiaskan bunga-bunga indah dipadu dengan bebrapa sculpture ikonik.

Aku mulai menelusuri gang utama menuju Sinchon-ro Avenue di utara stasiun. Yang kutahu, guesthouse yang kupesan berada di dalam gang di seberang jalan sana. Aku melintas pada zebra cross tunggal yang ada pada ruas jalan dihadapan. Seoul Bus Rapid Transit dominan biru langit kelir putih, dengan AC outdoor compartment  memanjang di bagian atap melengkapi body panjangnya tampak berlalu lalang mengambil warga lokal yang mulai beraktivitas meghargai fajar.

Aku memutuskan untuk tak bertanya  kepada siapapun perilah letak guesthouse tempatku menginap, aku yakin di tengah Ibu Kota yang super sibuk, akan sangat langka bagi siapapun untuk mengetahui letak sebuah guesthouse kecil jauh di dalam gang antah berantah.

Aku mengambil peta dan dengan cepat memahami gang sebelah mana yang harus kumasuki. Aku mulai memasuki  Gang Sinchon –ro 3-gil dan berbelok ke kanan pada pertigaan pertama. Sesuai dugaan, aku akan mudah menemukannya.

Memasuki pintunya yang tak terkunci, aku menemukan meja resepsionis yang gelap dan kosong, lorong tangga, dapur dan ruang makan sama temaramnya. Tamu-tamu guesthouse rupanya masih tampak malas dalam selimutnya masing-masing, seakan enggan berjibaku dengan dinginnya hawa di luaran sana.

Tak ada pilihan, aku memasuki shared lounge yang sama temaramnya, mengambil tempat duduk, menaruh backpack dan menangkupkan muka dalam sedekapan tangan untuk turut terlelap dengan kondisi terduduk. Setidaknya shared lounge itu tak sedingin ruangan Seoul Express Bus Terminal dini hari tadi.

Lelapan pulasku terbangunkan oleh suara berisik seseorang yang tampak merapikan ruang resepsionis. Rupanya aku telah terlelap selama satu jam lamanya. Lelaki muda Korea itu tampak melihat kearahku tanpa ekpresi. Aku mengucek mata untuk membuat muka segera segar. Beranjak dari bangku dan segera menujunya.

Aku ; “Hello, I’m Donny from Indonesia. I had booked a room in this guesthouse. This is my booking confirmation”.

Dia: “Let me see”, dia seksama membaca detail lembaran itu. “I think you will get your room on 1 pm, so I’m sorry”, aku terkagum dengan aksen British pengucapan englishnya.

Aku: ‘Oh, It’s OK. I know that. I just want to put my backpack here and I will go to sightseeing the city”.

Dia: “Yeaa, It will be better. Just put your backpack there”, dia menunjuk sebuah pojok ruangan yang penuh tumpukan backpack.

Aku: “Ok, thanks, Sir”.

Usai sukses menaruh backpack yang mulai membuat punggungku terasa berat. Aku segera meninggalkan guesthouse. Aku harus mencari sarapan sebelum menuju ke destinasi pertamaku di Seoul. Semenjak bercakap dengan Mr. In Chul Park di Seoul Metro tadi pagi, aku mulai menahan rasa lapar yang menyerang lambung.

Menyeberang kembali Sinchon-ro Avenue aku memasuki gang menuju Stasiun Hongik University. Di dalam gang aku perlahan melangkah demi menemukan sebuah minimarket. Yups….Akhirnya aku menemukan sebuah CU minimarket.

Menelusuri rak berisi makanan, aku menemukan cup noodle dan kemasan nasi putih, tanpa ragu aku memungutnya dan membawanya ke kasir. Seperti minimarket di Busan, CU minimarket Seoul juga menyediakan pojok makan, lengkap dengan microwave dan air panas. Pelanggan dituntut untuk bisa mengoperasikan peralatan pemanas itu dan melayani dirinya sendiri untuk menyantap makanan yang dibelinya.

Aku yang sungguh kelaparan, menyantap cup noodle dan nasi kemasan itu dengan cepatnya. Untuk kemudian segera bergegas menuju destinasi wisata pertama.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Berburu T-Money bersama Mr. Park

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Gosok Gigi….

Itulah problema utama pagi itu. Tak ada tempat layak  untuk menunaikannya. Berbeda dengan bandara yang umumnya memiliki toilet kelas hotel berbintang. Ini terminal bus, man!

Tak sempat berfikir untuk sarapan, aku segera bangkit, memanggul kembali backpack biruku, melanjutkan identitas sebagai seorang backpacker. Kini aku akan menuju ke tengah kota.

Berada di Seoul Express Bus Terminal berarti aku berada di ujung selatan kota, tertahan semalaman di Distrik Seocho demi menunggu kereta pertama beroperasi. Aku bergegas menuju Stasiun Express Bus Terminal….Yupz, stasiun itulah yang terintegrasi dengan terminal dimana aku bermalam.

Sementara residu udara beku masih terasa lekat di kulit ari begitu setengah langkahku terjulur keluar dari gerbang terminal. “Gilaaa….”, batinku yang membatin. Kusegerakan langkah dengan menaikkan tempo kaki menuju gerbang stasiun.

Damn….”, gerbang itu masih terhalang oleh standing barrier.

Belum boleh masuk….”, batinku membuat kesimpulan.

Tergopohlah diri kembali menuju terminal. Kuputuskan menunggu hingga genap satu jam, melebihi setengah jam dari rit pertama kereta beroperasi.

Satu jam yang kumanfaatkan dengan membuka kembali lembaran peta dasa jalur Seoul Metro. Jumlah jalur yang satu lebih banyak dari jalur MRT-LRT milik Negeri Singa. Kapankah Jakarta akan mengejarnya?

Genap enam puluh menit menanti, kini aku merepetisi jejak menuju gerbang Stasiun Express Bus Terminal. Standing barrier itu telah sirna, penanda bahwa stasiun telah membuka diri bagi setiap tamunya.

Memasuki bangunan stasiun, pohon-pohon natal masih saja menyambut walau ini sudah hari ketiga bulan Januari, patung Santa Claus dengan sembilan rusa kutub kesayangannya menyapa dan tepat di pojokan sana security berbadan tambun dengan kelebihan bentuk perut melempar senyum. Dengan sigap dia menyambar topi dan Tongkat-T putihnya lalu berlari kecil menujuku. Sepertinya dia faham bahwa aku bukanlah penduduk Negeri Ginseng, oleh karenanya, dia berniat membantu. Walaupun sebetulnya, aku lebih tertantang menemukan untuk platform dengan caraku sendiri. But, It’s OK, lah.

Security tambun: “Hellooo, where wil you go?

Aku: “Hongik University Station, Sir”.

Security tambun: “Oh, OK. Where are you come from?

Aku: “Indonesia

Security tambun: “Hmmh, Malaysia?

Aku: “No Sir. Indonesia. A country at south of Malaysia”.

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

Aku pun menguntitnya dari belakang

This way”, dia menunjuk sebuah lorong menuju salah satu platform”.

Thank you, Sir”, aku menutup percakapan sebelum dia kembali menempati posnya.

Menyusuri lorong hingga ujung, aku mulai mencari keberadaan ticket vending machine. Mesin itu ada di salah satu sisi. Lorong masih sepi, memungkinkanku untuk mengeksplorasi layar mesin itu. Tekun menjelajah layar, tak ada satu kata pun yang bisa menuntunku untuk mendapatkan One Day Pass.

Aku memunculkan sebuah inisiatif untuk menghadap ke petugas stasiun. Ruangan itu jelas ada di samping sana. Dua orang staff berseragam tampak memulai hari di meja kerjanya. Aku terlanjur mengetuk pintu kaca dan tatapan mereka serempak menuju ke arahku lalu diiringi lambaian salah satu diantara mereka sebagai tengara bahwa mereka mempersilahkan aku untuk masuk menghadapnya.

Aku: “Good morning, Sir?

Staff: “Yes, Can I help you?

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

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

Aku: “What is that?

Merasa kerepotan berbahasa Inggris, dia beranjak dari bangku dan menuju pintu. Dia melambaikan tangan kepadaku untuk mengikutinya. “there!”, dia menunjuk kepada sebuah kotak mesin.

Merasa peluang untuk mendapatkan One Day Pass menipis, aku pun menyerah dan menutup percakapan. “Oh, OK

Langkah kakiku cepat menuju kotak mesin itu. Merasa penasaran dengan apa yang bisa dijual oleh benda penuh teknologi itu. Aku berhenti sejenak, mengamati lekat penampakannya. Belum juga aku memencet apapun maka berdirilah di sampingku seorang lelaki, umurnya 40-an tetapi masih terlihat segar bugar, murah senyum dan tampak berpendidikan.

Dia: “Helloo…..Can I help you? Where are you come from?

Aku: “Hi, Indonesia Sir. Yeaa, I looking for the One Day Pass in this machine, Sir”.

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

Aku: “Oh, ya

Dia: “OK, I will help you to get it”. Dia mulai mendekat ke layar, kemudian gesit memencet-mencet tombol hingga tiba pada menu akhir ekseskusi. “You need to insert 3.000 Won to this machine!

Aku: “Oh , Ok, I see”….aku memasukkannya dan dia mulai memencet tombol eksekusi terakhir.

T-Money itu keluar dari mesin dengan packingan rapi  berwarna putih. Lelaki itu mengambilnya dan menyerahkan kepadaku.

Kemasan T-Money.
Ini dia wujud T-Money.

So now, you can explore Seoul by this. Come on we go to platform. Where is your destination?”, dia mulai megajakku melangkah

Hongik University Station, Sir”, aku mencoba mengimbangi kecepatan langkahnya.

Oh, do you study there?”.

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

In Chul Park. Call me Park”, dia mengulurkan tangan

Donny, Sir”, aku menjabat tangannya.

Kini aku memiliki teman berbincang selama perjalanan menuju Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon.

Thank you very much Mr. Park….

Menunggu Pagi di Seoul Express Bus Terminal

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Temperatur anjlok….Sudah dibawah titik beku.

Jam dinding bulat putih di arrival hall memamerkan jarumnya yang mulai merapat ke angka pertama dalam putarannya.

Arrival Gate Seoul Express Bus Terminal.

Kembali ke sepuluh menit sebelumnya, ketika aku bergegas melipat jemuran t-shirt dan kaos kaki dari jok ketika bus putih berkelir merah itu merapat di Seoul Express Bus Terminal.

Selamat Datang Seoul….Engkau akan menjadi kota terakhir dalam petualangan awal tahun itu.

Seturun dari bus, setiap penumpang bergegas menuju bangunan terminal demi menghinda hawa dingin kota. Sejenak arrival hall berubah ramai, beberapa toko penjaja makanan ringan dan kopi yang masih buka menjadi serbuan sebagian penumpang. Sementara sebagian yang lain memilih angkat kaki dari terminal, mengandalkan taksi untuk melanjutkan perjalanan ke titik akhir masing-masing.

Mencari tempat untuk tidur.

Aku berdiri terdiam, mengawasi lokasi sekitar, mencari tempat bermalam yang nyaman. Aku sudah faham bahwa MRT akan mulai beroperasi pagi nanti, sekitaran setengah enam. Jadi aku tak perlu berepot-repot memaksa diri menuju bangunan stasiun.

Tuah keberuntungan itu datang, dipojok kiri sana terlihat dua kolom bangku panjang, masing-masing besekat tiga tanpa sandaran dengan besi pembatas antar sekat. Membuatnya tak mungkin menjadi tempat tidur darurat dini hari itu. Kutaruh backpack di pojok bangku dan aku mulai duduk menghabiskan sisa malam.

Menunggu benar-benar sepi untuk mengakuisisi bangku.

Seiring bergulirnya jarum jam, para penumpang yang sedari tadi menikmati kopi panas dan makanan ringan mulai hengkang, menyisakan sepi. Beruntung toko-toko itu tak menutup diri walau si empunya pasti tertidur di lantai sambil menunggui dagangannya. Setidaknya aku tak merasa sendiri.

Bangungan terminal ini sungguh manusiawi. Bersih, terang dan aman walaupun aku tetap mengeluhkannya karena tetap saja tak kuasa menahan hawa beku dari luar sana. Hawa itu masuk menembus jendela-jendela kaca, membuatku tak sanggup memejamkan mata sama sekali.

Di tengah kesenyapan, aku beranjak bangkit, mencoba mendekati kios-kios makanan itu. Mengamati beberapa kaleng minuman yang mungkin bisa menemaniku malam itu. Aku sedang khusyu’ memilihnya ketika tiba-tiba sekerumun penumpang berjejal memasuki bangunan terminal. Sebuah armada bus antar kota tampak menyalakan lampu hazard sembari memuntahkan seluruh muatannya.

Nona Cantik: “Hello, how do I get to downtown?

Aku: “If you want to go there now, you have to take a taxi, Ms. MRT isn’t operating yet now”, buseet, guwe yang orang asing aja lebih tahu.

Nona Cantik: “Oh. Is’n operating yet?”, aroma nafasnya tercium wangi Soju.

Aku: “Yes absolutely, you can go by taxi or waiting here until morning”, berharap dia bisa menemaniku di terminal

Nona Cantik: “Oke..Oke”, dia tampak menuju ke sisi dinding terminal….”Oppaaaa…….@#$%^&*!?><”. Ah dia malah menelpon kekasihnya. Musnah sudah harapan.

Aku kembali ke jajaran minuman kaleng, mengambil salah satunya dan menebusnya dengan 800 Won.

Minum kopi manis dulu lah…..

Dalam sekejap, bangunan terminal kembali sepi. Aku terduduk lagi di bangku. Kali ini seorang sopir bus antar kota sudah duduk di barisan bangku sebelah, bersandar pada tembok dan tidur dengan lelapnya.

Sedangkan aku yang sangat terganggu dengan hawa beku, berusaha terus bergerak hingga pagi. Beruntung aku menyempatkan tidur dalam bus selama dua setengah jam dalam perjalanan malam tadi.

Ayolah Seoul, segeralah datang matahari pagi!….

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Menjemur di Bus dari Busan ke Seoul

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Jeda tipis antara ketibaanku dan keberangkatan bus berbuah manis, menjadikanku tak terlalu lama menunggunya berangkat. Beberapa menit lalu, aku telah menanyakan demi mencari bus yang akan kunaiki kepada salah seorang pengemudi di Busan Central Bus Terminal. Telunjuk jarinya jelas mengarah pada armada berwarna putih dengan kelir merah. Aku pun bergegas menuju bus itu dan bertanya pada pengemudinya yang duduk di depan bus yang terparkir.

Yes, this bus”, ungkapnya ketika aku menunjukkan tiket.

Tiket yang sudah kubeli sedari pagi seharga 23.000 Won.

Dia mengizinkanku untuk lebih awal menaiki bus yang mesinnya menyala langsam tetapi masih terparkir rapi di platform. Bangku bus itu berformasi dua kolom di setiap sisi dan aku mengakuisisi bangku sedikit di belakang. Dengan berada di dalam bus, selain mendapatkan ketenangan karena tak bakal tertinggal, aku juga mendapatkan udara hangat yang membuat nyaman.

Satu demi satu penumpang lokal berdatangan dan berusaha mencari tempat duduknya masing-masing. Hingga satu menit menjelang kebarangkatan, kursi bus itu tak kunjung penuh. Pengemudi datang dan mulai memeriksa setiap penumpang dengan lembar manifest di tangan kirinya. Setelah menandai semua list dalam manifest, maka pengemudi itupun turun, melapor kepada petugas di terminal, lalu mulai menempati posisi duduk di belakang kemudi. Bus itu siap memulai perjalanan jauh dengan kondisi lebih dari separuh bangku dibiarkan kosong.

Kini bus perlahan menjauh dari Busan Central Bus Terminal dan mulai memamerkan area-area baru yang belum pernah kujelajah sebelumnya. Bus itu memasuki jalur bebas hambatan dengan memamerkan siluet perbukitan-perbukitan indah Korea Selatan. Tak jarang bus memasuki terowongan-terowongan pembelah bukit. Jalanan tampak lengang di malam hari, hanya menampilkan pelita-pelita malam di sepanjang kontur perbukitan Korea. Luar biasa indah.

Para penumpang telah tertidur sedari tadi, sementara aku sebagai orang asing, lebih memilih menikmati pertunjukan malam sembari menikmati beberapa potong roti yang kubeli dari sebuah minimarket di Busan Central Bus Terminal. Yups, aku tak sempat menimati makan malam dengan layak, karena dikejar waktu demi menangkap keberangkatan bus sedari sore tadi.

Tak terasa aku telah begitu lama menikmati pemandangan jalanan, hingga akhirnya pengemudi melakukan break time di Sunsan Service Area di dekat Kota Gumi, Provinsi Gyeongsangbuk. Segenap penumpang turun untuk sekedar menikmati secangkir kopi panas atau paling tidak pergi sejenak menuju toilet. Sedangkan aku hanya memutuskan berkeliling di sekitar rest area sembari menunggu pengemudi menuntaskan makan malam.

Sunsan Service Area, tempat bus melakukan break time.
Bus yang kunaiki (foto diambil setiba di Seoul Express Bus Terminal).

Kegilaan itu datang….

Dua puluh menit kemudian bus siap berangkat, segenap penumpang kembali menempati posisi duduknya masing-masing. Aku segera menuju bus dan kembali duduk di bangkuku. Usai pengemudi menghitung penumpang, bus kembali melaju menuju Seoul.

Aku teringat bahwa di dalam backpack masih terdapat dua t-shirt dan sepasang kaos kaki yang belum sempurna kering. Melihat suasana sepi dalam bus dengan penumpang yang terlelap dalam mimpi, aku mengeluarkan t-shirt dan kaos kaki itu untuk kemudian membentangkannya di sandaran jok depan, aku sengaja melakukannya untuk membuatnya kering. “Ah, mumpung yang lain sedang tidur…”, batinku tertawa geli.

Selanjutnya akupun mulai memejamkan mata untuk beristirahat, karena setiba di Seoul, aku akan menginap dan harus terjaga di Seoul Express Bus Terminal untuk kemudian langsung melakukan eksplorasi Seoul di pagi harinya. Aku harus menghemat energi untuk itu….

Mata mulai kupejamkan, bus masih akan tiba dua jam lagi….

Kisah Selanjutnya—->