Public transportation around South Korea in itself can be an exciting adventure even once you have mastered how to get on the bus, learned about the psyche of drivers and are now able to keep track of a T-money card diligently. On the other hand does the type of bus warrant certain personalities and traits? Does the local bus driver have the same demeanor as the express drivers? In fact all drivers have distinct characteristics because of their constant interactions amongst the everyday facades of life in the city and within the countryside. Here we take a look at five distinctly different bus drivers and their routes. They are; 1) The Tour Bus driver an obviously retired city fleet driver who has bought his own passenger bus in order to keep on driving, 2) the Long Distance Bus driver who cannot afford to own his own passenger bus but doesn’t like the short routes driven by the public transportation board, 3) the Express Bus driver zooming from countryside villages into the interior of major cities, 4) the Standard Bus driver cruising around on the outskirts of all cities, towns and villages, and 5) the Local Bus driver out for a casual Sunday drive everyday of the week.
Easily noticeable with their red and white color scheme, the express buses are numbered in the thousands (1000, 2200, 3000). Here you will be riding with the most evil sinister driver provided in all of South Korea. These drivers are at the pride and joy of all terror in being a passenger. These drivers all barely passed through fleet driving schools and are deemed as the strain on the public transportation workers reputation. These men and women will maneuver their vehicle with the utmost precision, around obstacles, through traffic, over speed bumps and along highway edges. Typically they are a friendly lot but every fifteen minutes or so the evilness of this driver will escape in an ugly mask. First they will begin to sulk then they will light a smoke cracking their window opening up a howling terrifying screaming breeze while yapping on their handphone.[i] Further this menace of a driver will insist on eating handfuls of Asian crackers while driving one handed and grinding through the gears as they pert their way along through the bus route.
If luck is on your side try to always ride on a standard bus whenever you need to get somewhere. These buses are numbered in the hundreds (221, 636, 900) and are painted in a number of varying color schemes, blue and white, green and white, yellow and white or orange and white. Eighty-five percent of the time these bus drivers will be in a chirpy happy come, easy does it attitude. These drivers seem to pay attention to road rules when they are in the smaller communities but once they have reached a denser populated area become half as evil as the express bus drivers above and incorporate a constantly honking air horn as they pull near all bus stops.
Are you searching for a calm drive out in the countryside? Then pick up any local numbered bus starting with a #0 (031, 035, 071, 083). These buses are always painted in one monotonous color: lime green, yellow, or blue. Of all the drivers this one will be the closest to “friendly” you will ever find. This driver will always greet you with a smile when you get on. He’ll smile when you pay and sit down. He’ll even smile when you have missed your stop. These drivers are the kinds of people who will go out of their way to make sure you get to your destination. Just like any of your other good friends would.
Ever wondered where discarded business class airline seats go? Then purchase a ticket for a long range or long distance bus in South Korea. This bus will get you from any major city into the most rural of communities in the most direct and cheapest manner possible. Further all of these buses are partially owned by their drivers making them exceptionally clean with the most up-to-date electronics on board for both the driver and passengers. These uber friendly drivers are extremely skilled at their craft and seem most comfortable with their feet propped up on the dash whizzing through the winding expressways around the interior of South Korea.
Somewhere, someday at sometime there might be a chance to take a package trip onboard a tour bus. Stepping onto the tour bus you will notice their sparkly clean interiors and impressive electronic systems surrounding the windscreen[ii] around the drivers seat. What you will not see are the plush comfortable captain style first class chairs you get on a long distance bus. Nor will you get the constant uber friendly disguise of those drivers too. What you will get is a distractedly unhappy professionally retired express bus driver who now owns a tour bus and has come out of retirement to destroy all hopes of passengers throughout South Korea. This driver is just as sinister as he was driving an express bus except this time around there are not any bosses back at the office to please because this guy owns this rig. All eighteen wheels of hell bound fiery, twisting, screaming and pushing it to within an inch of the mechanics shop. He’s constantly on the CB radio chatting erratically with other tour operators as he whips in and out of 90-degree corners pausing momentarily to answer a ringing handphone and spitting out expletives at other drivers while blasting his sixteen-thunderous air-horns on the roof. His number one goal is not to get the passengers to their destination but to watch at least one use the sick-bag on board.
[i] Handphone is Konglish, a mix of English and Korean meaning cellular phone
[ii] Windscreen in Korea is the same term as windshield in the United States