Tag Archives: Daegu

What TAE-FUK?

When I told this story to my friends, the common response was “What, I never thought this could happen to you!”. Usually followed or preceded by full-hearted laughter out of Schadenfreude. But I have to agree, it’s actually really funny and I never thought this could happen to me. But let’s start from the beginning.

On 5 September the Osaka area was hit by a typhoon Jebi, the strongest typhoon within the last 25 years, which destroyed parts of the Kansai airport built on an artificial island in the bay of Osaka. As one terminal and one runway was completely unusable flight operations were completely canceled. Around the 10th the first airlines, like ANA, started operating a few flights a day. I had a flight booked from Daegu (TAE) to Osaka (KIX) with Air Busan for the 16th fo meet up with Björn and Janina. The days after the typhoon I monitored the situation. Every day some new information, some more flights going in or out, but operations were far from normal. Around 12 September I had to make a call, so that Björn and Janina can adjust their plans if necessary, that we could end up in the same place on the 16th. Of course due to the upcoming holidays in Korea and Japan flights were already expensive. For about a day and a half we checked various destinations across Japan and different departure airports in Korea. We agreed that most likely the best solution would be to still meet up in Osaka but fly in to Fukuoka and then take the Shinkansen to Osaka.

I tried to call Air Busan to have my existing ticket rebooked to the new destination, but their service center was completely overrun and even after hours of trying I never got through. The best option was then to just book a new flight and hope that the other flight will get canceled and I could get a refund. I selected the one-way trip from TAE to FUK for the 16th, entered my personal information and credit card info and bam: your credit card does not support 3D verification, proceeding without verification. But it only showed a white screen. I tried again. No luck. Next try was booking through my mobile phone. Usually it’s the mobile website that does not work properly and I use the desktop as fallback, why not once the other way round? Again selecting departure airport, destination, one-way flight and date, entering personal information and credit card and guess what, this time it worked. I confirmed the payment with the N26 app and the flight was booked.


Now everything was clear and I went to my trip to Daegu. On the 16th I got up in the morning, had a relaxing breakfast and made my way to the airport around 11 to be there on time for my flight at 14:00. I arrived shortly before 12 and looked for the check-in counter. On the information counter I was told that for the flight to Fukuoka at 14:00 Air Busan would open the counter any minute. So I waited for a few minutes and lined up for check in.

“Konichiwa, I have a reservation for the flight to Fukuoka.” I greeted the woman behind the check-in counter and handed her my passport. She started to check the system and then handed me my passport. “How do you spell your name? I cannot find it.” Only partly confused – having an umlaut and a dash in the name regularly leads to issues – I showed her the international spelling and she checked again. “Sorry, nothing. Do you have the booking confirmation?” Alright, I looked up the confirmation mail and handed her my phone. She started scrolling around and then pointed at the phone. “Sorry, your flight is from Busan. This is Daegu. You’re at the wrong airport.” I looked at the ticket and realized “Fuck, I’m at the wrong airport.” Busan, the home airport of Air Busan, it about 2 hours away in the very south of Korea. No chance I would make it there in time for the check-in. “Oh fuck, are there any seats left on this flight? I need to get to Fukuoka.” “Yes, there are free seats. Please wait, I check if I can rebook you.” Now a 20 min journey began of phone calls the woman made, while I was checking the website to see how much a new ticket would cost me. As there were only regular tickets left a new ticket would cost around 154.000 Won, at that time ca. 115 EUR. A lot, but still affordable.

In total the woman made maybe 7-8 phone calls, apologizing in-between for letting me wait, and in the end offering me to rebook my flight for 150.000 Won. Virtually the same price as a new ticket. Somewhat disappointing, but still better than to have Janina and Björn wait for me a day in Osaka. So I paid for the new ticket and went for the security area. However, I was still very lucky to get a ticket in the first place. As I boarded the plane as one of the last passengers, I saw that all seats except for very few seats here and there, were taken. And a couple of people were still behind me.

I was still confused. How could this happen to me? I’m an experienced traveler, booked all kinds of things through phone, texts, or website in all kinds of languages without any problems. So I looked at the mobile site and tried to figure out how this could have happened. And then I found it. As I said above, I entered departure and destination airport, selected one-way, and then the flight date. The mobile Air Busan website, however, changes the airports to their default selection Busan – Fukuoka when you switch from return ticket to one-way ticket. I guess that’s where it slipped through my attention.

A weekend in Daegu

To see something more from Korea than just Seoul I decided to go to Daegu, the 4th largest city in Korea with 2.5 million people. All the lab mates I told about going to Daegu just asked: why? It felt like to them there is nothing outside of Seoul that is worth a trip. My reasoning for Daegu was that (1) it was not Seoul and (2) had cheap flights to Osaka where I planned to go next.
Unluckily, a typhoon destroyed large parts of the Kansai International Airport, which is on an artificial island in the bay of Osaka the weekend before my flight. Some airlines resumed some flights, but it didn’t look like Air Busan, my airline, would do so. I had to find a different solution to get to Osaka to meet up with my friends. After about a day of searching, discussing, and comparing the solution was to fly from Daegu to Fukuoka and take the train to Osaka. So I booked my flight and started the trip to Daegu.


What struck me first in Daegu was the rare English translations all over town. In Seoul, all subway stations and most stores or restaurants had some kind of basic English translation available. In Deagu I really had to step up my game in reading Hangul.


My hostel, Daegu Midtown Hostel, was right in the heart of the city, so I started exploring the area and passed by Dalseong park which also contained a small zoo. One of the most depressing zoos I have ever seen. Giant owls, eagles, vultures or wolves in tiny cages, some not larger than 10-12 m². At the break of dawn I went to the Seomun night market, expecting something similar to the night markets I know from Southeast Asia. But this one was different. The food stalls were selling premium street food, from beef skewers to fried shrimp to seared sushi.


The last stop for the night was the International Jazz Festival, where Jazz bands were playing all week for free on a stage in the south of Daegu. On my way there it started to rain a little bit. Just enough to make everything wet but not enough to stay inside or wear a rain jacket. As I arrived at the stage the chairs were mostly empty, just a few people with ponchos or umbrellas faced the drizzling rain. I walked up to the middle of the seating area and went for a chair, when a Korean woman rushed towards me and started talking to me hastily. I did not understand a word, she did not speak any English, but what I got was that I should not sit down on this chair. Because it was wet. I pulled out my backpack rain cover and used it as butt protection. After a little while the rain became more than a drizzle, so I thought about either staying and getting a little bit wet, or seeking shelter in a nearby place, when the same woman came to me with a poncho. So I stayed a little longer and enjoyed the quite good music before I decided to give back the poncho and go back to the center.

The next day I decided to go hiking on Mount Apsan, even though the raid had still not vanished and the clouds were hanging deep. But I was full of hope to get a nice view over the city from the viewing platform. When I crawled further up the mountain the clouds were thickening and at one point, maybe around 100 meters below the peak, I was completely within the clouds. Left and right I could only see a few meters, and walking along the ridge with drizzle and wind was a different kind of fun. Luckily one I reached the viewing platform the clouds were already breaking up, and giving me at least a partial view of Daegu.

About the nightlife there is not much to say. The center has lots of bars and clubs, something for every taste, bur nothing extraordinary. As I had to check out at 10:00 the next day I decided to go back early and get a good nights sleep before heading for Japan. But boy, did I not know how much I would need it.