Public transport or roller coaster ride?If the movie “Speed,” was made in Korea, it wouldn’t have been a blockbuster, because every Korean has already lived the movie at least once.
The main goals of a Korean bus driver seem to be a) getting passengers to their destination at the speed of light and b) suffocating everyone on the bus.
Ever tried to breathe while traveling on a bus in Seoul, especially in winter? Bus drivers are not only reckless, but they also switch on the heaters full blast, as if the city was suffering through another ice age.
Attempting to get just a small whiff of fresh air in the sauna on wheels, I’ll try to open a window, which always seems to be locked. Maybe there’s a secret code?
It requires all my strength to pry the window open, with success about as likely as the bus actually stopping for pedestrians. If I do manage to get the window open the driver yells at me.
“Don’t open! Close! Heater!” the driver shouts, as he glares at me in the rearview mirror.
I’m not sure if other countries suffer the same problems, but public transportation in Malaysia and Singapore seems to be more pleasant. Of course, bus drivers all over the world love the taste of speed, but Korean drivers are different.
There are certain rules one must follow while riding the bus. First, never ask the driver any questions, especially about destination. Passengers should figure this out for themselves. Besides, bus drivers here never answer questions; they simply snort.
Never try to argue with the bus driver. Questions like, “What took you so long?” or “Could you drive a little slower?” should never be asked, even if people are falling out of their seats or holding on for dear life.
And when the bus driver turns the heater or the air conditioner on to full blast, never, ever open the window, even when you feel like you might faint from the lack of fresh air. Bus drivers are very sensitive about energy conservation, and they despise people who waste valuable temperature-controlled air by opening windows.
The only person allowed to open any window on the bus is the driver, especially when he needs to burn some tobacco.
As you approach your stop, push the button and move quickly toward the exit door, or the bus driver will just drive past the station. You might be forced to jump out of the bus while the vehicle is still moving.
As long as passengers remember these rules, bus travel can be as entertaining as a roller coaster without brakes.
by Lee Ho-jeong
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