The First Step: Sink or swim

The first step out the door of South Korea is via ferry. Many of the first links I’ve found so far via Google are out of date. The most recent date I’ve just found is 2010. I’ll give this number a call in my terrible broken Korean tomorrow and see what I can find out.

For now though, it seems the southern-most destination offered by any ferry service from Korea I can find goes to the port city of Lianyungang, which is about 400kms north of Shanghai.

The alternative is to not worry about going as far south as possible to start with, but rather going to the port of Tianjin. It is the closest to Beijing, and is only just over 100kms from the capital. I could, theoretically, spend Christmas with Roger, and Jemma and Andrew. It would be a welcome alternative to Japan, and it would be a lovely experience to see Jemma in action doing the churchy stuff, and, the perfect opportunity to step inside a church, and a Chinese one at that!

The Second Step: Take a seat

This looks like wonderfully fortuitous, and awfully timely news! … I just wonder how they’ll feel about me taking my creaky old bike on their shiny new train?!

I do also wonder about prices though. The first Google search I find tells me that the price of the most comfortable bed-sleeper “seats” on the old, 20-plus hour trip trains cost in KRW136,671.11, which is about NZ$153.16. The alternative second-class tickets, quite literally for “seats” on the 22-hour trip, cost only KRW44,000, or NZ$49.30. Hmm. I am surprised. When I first read the Korean price, due to the Korean style of reading numbers in sets of 10,000 rather than 1,000, I thought the cost must be the same as an airfare all the way home to NZ.

It seems wonderfully cheap. In New Zealand, it costs more than that just to take a downtown bus to the next stop!

God bless the economies of scale.

It will be interesting to find out what the new eight-hour train costs. Considering the auspicious occasion of its opening just in time for my inspection, I think it bodes well that I should seek the opportunity to patronize this service upon the advent of this significant technological milestone.

On a second googling, this article suggests that a second-class seat on the new eight hour trip train may cost more than KRW157,000, or NZ$176. Given that the trip is “only” eight hours, and given that time is money, this seems more than reasonable.

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