The roads in South Korea are, in a word, hazardous. I know that’s not an unusual sentiment for most places in the world and I can agree and understand that there are worse traffic-crazy places out there. But for a pedestrian, I will say, Korea is one of the least safe places I have been. Pedestrians do not have the right of way here. Ever. Not even on a green crosswalk! A crazed bus driver can (oh I’ve seen it, numerous times) honk once or twice and fly right through a red light, narrowly missing toes on the way through.
(This is a random picture inserted to add visual interest to my blog post. I think it does the job nicely, wouldn’t you agree? Jon is apparently doing some sort of Sylvester Stallone impersonation that is entirely lost on me…)
And the motorbikes/scooters are insane! Not only because they take their lives into their hands constantly, but because they become pedestrians at a whim, sneak past buses veering towards the curb to make a stop, and in general go places and do things that are probably not in their best interests.
To mark my point I will paint you a scene: Jon and I, in the back of a taxi, casually letting the driver know we would like to get out “here”. Driver starts to signal and move toward the right hand lanes. Driver does so at a pretty fast pace and doesn’t pay too much attention to whether people are moving for him or if there is room because, hey, that’s the way you drive in Korea. Jon and I are sitting there thinking nothing much of it when THUD! We look to the right, and see a motorcyclist smack at full speed into the passenger door/window and then disappear. So we continue on our move over to the curb and the taxi driver…sits there and waits for our payment! Before getting out to check on the poor guy on the motorbike. I couldn’t believe it. So we’re scrambling to pay as a crowd starts to form and a middle aged man is lying in the gutter.
Anyways, we stuck around long enough to make sure the man was moving but we didn’t wait for the police. Largely because we can’t speak Korean and doubted our help would be welcome, but admittedly also because Westerners get blamed for anything here if the stories are to be believed and I didn’t want to be around for that, in the off chance…
Oh! But in better scary driving adventures…a truck that nearly ran us over in his haste, went over a speed bump at full speed and lost some of the socks off his truck! And I just so happened to be there to scoop up those little lovelies – three pairs in all! Mwahahahaaaa take that bad driver! 😀 Wearing goods that fell off the back of a truck never felt so good.
To sum: driving = scary. Free socks = great. Pedestrians = nervous.