Buyeo, December 19th
Asia trip 2018-2019

I wake up early in the morning and get on the train KTX111 to Busan.

I have a printed-at-home ticket that I bought at I am not sure if this will be enough proof of booking, or if I need to exchange it for an official ticket as I did at Shenzhen for the Chinese trains. The ticket inspector does not ask passengers for tickets. I see an app in her phone that shows which seats are occupied and which seats are empty. As the seats are numbered, she just checks the seats and does not need to bother the passengers. So, I am fine. When she leaves the wagon, she bows and closes the door. I get off the train at Daejeon.

I use Naver Map app to navigate Korea. Naver is everywhere here. It has instant messaging, mail, and other services app. For Korea, it works way better than Google maps. So, I check how to go from Daejeon Station to Buyeo. It shows a local bus and the Intercity Bus that I already know I should take.

In Daejeon, I take the express bus number 1 and get to the Intercity Bus Terminal. The terminal looks chaotic, as there are different kinds of buses in and out of the station. But, once inside, I go to the ticket office and get a ticket to Buyeo. It has the time and the platform from which the bus departs. I go out of the office while looking at my ticket. An employee approaches me, looks at the ticket and points me at the correct platform. Looking so much a tourist has triggered people to help me in more than one occasion.

I try to familiarize myself with the Korean names of the places. It helps to find my way, even that most places show the romanized version of them. For anyone that wants to stay a long period in Korea, it should be easy to learn the Korean alphabet. The alphabet is composed of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. ㅂis (b). ㅜ is (u). 부 is (bu). For me, it is enough to remember visually the city name. 대전 for Daejeon. 부여 for Buyeo. 

I get on the bus on Platform 4 at 09:26 to Buyeo. The time and destination are clearly visible in the bus. There are just a few other passengers. Four or five for a bus that can carry more than forty. Some more people get on the bus along the way. One of them is a soldier. It is quite common to see soldiers in uniform as the military service is compulsory in South Korea. When we arrive at Buyeo, the bus is still quite empty. December is a low season for tourism in the city.

At Buyeo was located the capital of the Baekje(백제), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

"The concept of the Three Kingdoms of Korea (Hangul: 삼국시대) refers to the three kingdoms of Baekje (백제), Silla (신라) and Goguryeo (고구려). Goguryeo was later known as Goryeo (고려), from which the modern name Korea is derived. The Three Kingdoms period was defined as being from 57 BC to 668 AD."

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, December 13). Three Kingdoms of Korea. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

As a former capital of a kingdom, Buyeo has several historical locations. Some of the locations are UNESCO world heritage sites. I visit the Buyeo National Museum, one of the most spectacular artifacts there is the Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje.

Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje

But, my favorite place is Busosanseong. It was a fortress built to protect the capital. I approached a big building looking for an entrance. As soon as I get in, a member of the staff approaches me and asks what I am looking for. He explains to me that the big building is a virtual reality experience. I am looking for the park. So, he walks with me to the entrance of the park, that is five minutes away. We chat a little along the way. As there are not so many people at this time of the year, he has the time to do the extra effort and he is willing to do it. I’m grateful for the directions and the talk.

The park is located in a mountain. As the hiking rules go, people that you find along the way will greet you. People will say “hello” or “hi” in a cheerful English. Just one person says – I guess – Anyoung haseyo! (안녕하세요!) in Korean when he sees me. From the King’s Path (Kungsleden) in Abisko (Sweden) to the Montseny natural park (Spain), I always appreciate this hiking tradition.

Along the path, there are scattered several interesting locations: a Buddhist monastery, a rock formation, rebuild colorful buildings and historical places. I spend a lot of time and energy going around the mountain and visiting as many places as I can find. After several hours, I am very tired but it has been an amazing hike.

I go back to the inter-city bus station and Daejeon. Daejeon has a population of 1.5 million residents, it is a big city. But I only have time to walk around one of the shopping streets where I buy something for supper.