Winter is Coming: Time to drive
Public transportation is excellent in South Korea, and even with a splurge on a taxi now and again, much cheaper than owning a car. Nevertheless, winter is coming and not in the Game of Thrones way. It's October. Next month is November and after that comes December.
Thank you captain obvious. What isn't so obvious is that I've been riding an e-bike since about April when I reached my limit for walking to the farm. The electric bike has been awesome except on cold days and raining days. Then it kind of is a miserable experience. A rain suit will help but it's time to drive. Thus, on Saturday I went to the driver's license center in Gangnam.
Information on getting a driver's license was both easy to find and unclear. For one thing, Google searches didn't turn up explicit instructions. I like those. It's hard to get it wrong. For example, can you take any part of the test on Saturday? The answer is yes, but you should have someone who speaks Korean to call and find out the dates.
At the location in Gangnam they had English, Chinese and a few others. Over the phone my friend was told and then told me that you have to take the test and then watch a video. This turned out to be an important misunderstanding. Two test times, meant I had to be there by 8 am. Coming from Punggi that meant going to Seoul the night before and staying in a hotel or catching the 3:30 train. I was supposed to go last month, but lack of sleep meant it was pointless. I could barely put on a shirt correctly at the time. This month, however I was good to go in that, though the night before I left the farm at ten pm and had to get up at 2 am, I had actually slept that week.
But alas, my bike decided to NOT cooperate by having a flat tire. With time too short to walk to the train station, I went back to bed until five. I got up again, trudged to the bus station and tried to get a seat to Seoul. Even the 6:15 am bus was booked, but thankfully the desk clerk checked the next too buses in case a seat was sold but the person didn't get on. I was in luck. The 7 am bus to Gangnam had such a seat. It was double lucky because I needed to be in Gangnam, not Dongseoul which is where the other bus terminal is.
My best friend was a bit uhg when she found out because we had discussed all the reasons going late was pointless. But I told her I have to try to get at least something done.
As it turned out, now that the test is on a computer there is a line... a line not unlike lines for things like riding a roller coaster or getting a hotdog at a busy hotdogery. The difference being that the line is for a computer. When a computer opens ups up the staff tell you to go sit down. You type in your number and your name appears and you take the test (7,500 won).
Before you can do that part you have to have a health check (6,000 won) and a traffic safety video (0 won). The video is styled after a Korean drama and isn't nearly as bad as the ones I remember from driver's ed in high school.
However, before I could watch the video I had to get in the right line on the 4th floor. First, I lined up in front of the classroom because I'm a genius an didn't read the 13 the lady had written on my paper. Then, I lined up at counter 13 and waited. And waited. When I got to the front, I was told that counter 13 was for internet reservations and go to counter 12. So I got into the back of that line and began sweating. By this time, there was a chance that maybe the room would be too full. Or not. Because, as it turned out the room sits more than a hundred people and I was number 66 and only a few more seats were into the 70's. We then watched the hour long movie for 35 minutes before it was time for the clerk to begin processing us out of the room.
From there I went to another line and then finally the line for the computers. On my next trip to Seoul in November I get to prove I can work windshield wipers and stuff. It would have just exchange my license before it expired but hindsight is 20/20.