If you’re traveling from one distant city to another, for instance, Mokpo to Seoul. There’s bound to be a rest stop in between. The driver will make his announcement in Korean and park among dozens of other buses at a Hyukeso (or rest stop (휴게소)).
The driver will take his smoke break and passengers usually get down to relieve themselves, have a nice small lunch, and pick up a few snacks and souvenirs to boot. Most would just continue on napping till they’ve reached their final destination or literally just go down to stretch their legs then go back on the bus since the break is only for 10 to 15 minutes. But, there is so much to do at a rest stop in Korea.
Rest Stop, What’s There?
Rest stops have a plethora of convenience stores, coffee shops, and stalls galore. Some even have little gardens and amusing activity areas like arcades and scenic attractions nearby for the avid photographer. Of course, huge HDTVs are almost always in the waiting area of every rest stop for those who want to watch their favorite football match.
Like I mentioned above, the stalls are probably the best part to the rest stop. You have many options to choose from – a cafeteria setting indoors or the cheap street food ajummas peddling outside. The ajummas would have skewers of fish cakes (오뎅), grilled squid (오징어 구이), baked sweet potatoes (노란 고구마), plates of spicy rice cakes (떡볶이), fried hot dogs (감자 핫도그), large pieces of seafood pancakes (해물파전), butter corn (옥수수), potato wedges (휴게소 감자), you name it. Two of my favorites are the chicken skewers (닭꼬치) for 2,000won a stick and the walnut cakes (호두과자) at around 3,000won for a dozen.
Don’t Lose Yourself
It’s such a calming feeling to walk around a rest stop. One could lose themselves with such impressive views of the surrounding mountains while vintage trot music plays in the background.
Just remember, don’t forget your way back to the bus. Be aware of the time and how long you’ve been out or else you’ll be left behind. Then it becomes difficult to head back to your destination. It’s fairly easy to get lost since there are tons of buses at all times in the parking lot. You could easily board a similar bus going to the same destination. But then you realize you can’t find the bag you left behind at your seat. It happens. Take a chance, see all that you can see, do all that you can do, while you’re at a rest stop in Korea.