Bullet train to Nonsan


Korean-bullet-trainOne of our more interesting days in Korea was a visit to a TV and computer CRT recycling plant in Nonsan, a smaller city and hour and a half south of Seoul. It was actually some distance away, because we travelled there at 300 kph in Korea’s new fast train, built by French engineers.

New stations for a new train.

New stations for a new train.

Our first-class cabin had wireless internet access, free snacks and drinks. The drop-down video screens gave information including the current speed. The photo below shows 302 kph and I saw it reach 304 kph. The wide-track train travelled very smoothly and it was hard to appreciate just how fast we were going.

Train-interior

Interior of the first class cabin.

We returned by conventional train, on a different track. It was interesting in its own way – being slower we had a longer look at everything, and we were also closer to ground level. Much of the fast train track was well elevated above the ground.

Fast train track seen from the slow train track. Paddy fields and other intensive agriculture and horticulture covered every available corner of space not occupied by roads and buildings. Certainly no outdoors livestock farming could be seen.

Fast train track seen from the slow train track on the way back to Seoul. Paddy fields and other intensive agriculture and horticulture covered every available corner of space not occupied by roads and buildings. I saw no outdoors livestock farming.

Nonsan is a city of about 200,000 people that is low-rise and funky compared with Seoul.

Driving down Nonsan's main street.

Driving down Nonsan's main street.

Main street shops in Nonsan.

Main street shops in Nonsan.

Nonsan shops

Nonsan shops

Hamburgers to go at Lotteria, Korea's equivalent of McDonalds. Right: young woman feeding her child in the Lotteria restaurant.

Hamburgers to go at Lotteria, Korea's equivalent of McDonalds. Right: young woman feeding her child in the Lotteria restaurant.

The Nonsan station was more crowded and somewhat less salubrious than the Seoul stations. Many of the young men were national service soldiers travelling to Seoul on leave. Nonsan has an army training camp.

The Nonsan station was more crowded and somewhat less salubrious than the Seoul stations. Many of the young men were national service soldiers travelling to Seoul on leave. Nonsan has an army training camp.

Young soldiers at Nonsan Station.

Trainee soldiers at Nonsan Station. All South Korean males do two years of military training at age 18. This can be deferred up to the age of 30 if the person is doing academic study. Thre's a powerful incentive to study hard: fail and exam and you're straight into the army.

One of many golf driving ranges we saw from cars and trains in Korea. Far more golf is 'played' on driving ranges than on real golf courses, where memberships and green fees are ruinously expensive.

One of many golf driving ranges we saw from cars and trains in Korea. Far more golf is 'played' on driving ranges than on real golf courses, where memberships and green fees are ruinously expensive.

We saw several ersatz castles and chateaux from the train. I was told later that this was probably what is euphemistically known as a 'love hotel'.

We saw several ersatz castles and chateaux from the train. Later I was told this was probably a 'love hotel'.

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