With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

I missed the boat

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 8, 2009

May 2, 2008

All Pictures

Incheon International Ferry Terminal 2

The First days of Joblessness

I had worked in Korea for a whole year and planned a big trip when my contract was completed. My last day of work was the last day of April 2008. The first stop of my trip was in China.

Traveling to China by plane is a bit expensive. I would be traveling for 2 months while jobless and at the end I would start looking for another job, so I had to think of a more economic route to China. From Incheon harbor there are boats that go to several ports in other countries. So I bought a ticket on the one that went to Tianjin.

It actually goes to Tanggu which is near Tianjin, but it is advertised as going to Tianjin. Well, I’m still not sure if Tanggu is near Tianjin the town, or in a county called Tianjin. I just know that there is a town called Tanggu and another town called Tianjin, both of which may or may not be in a county called Tianjin.

I was so geared up for my first day on my big trip, but not geared up enough to have planned my usual extra two hours for getting lost. I was so sure I knew exactly where to go since I had lived in Seoul for a whole year and that I would be okay getting there on time. I missed the boat because I took the wrong bus from the Dong-Incheon subway station to the ferry; a distance so close I could have walked.

If you ever plan on taking the boat to Tianjin, go to the Incheon International Ferry Terminal 2 at least one and a half hours before the schedule departure. Take bus number 3, 23, 24, or 17-1 from the Dong-Incheon subway station and show the bus driver the picture above or just get off near the McDonald’s. You could also take a taxi; it’s a $3 ride.

Directions and cost of a taxi

Korean Words of Sympathy

Once I figured out that I was on the wrong bus I got off and started to walk around aimlessly. I passed a port.  I really wanted it to be my port but it was a shipping yard for cargo.

I looked so distraught that a man gossiping with a security guard in the area decided to help me. I showed him my boat ticket and he instantly knew what to do. He told me to follow him. Although he had the odor of alcohol on his breath I didn’t have a better plan so I followed.

He hailed a cab and told me to get in. I sat in the back seat on the verge of crying. He sensed that I was troubled and spoke reassuring words to me. Or, at least I think he did. He did not speak any English. I only guessed this from the tone of his voice. He told the cabbie my plight and the driver also began to speak to me sympathetically.

Once we were at the dock the man paid the taxi. I offered to pay the whole or even part of the fare, but the man would not let me. He led me up to the boat company’s office and explained my situation to the people there. The boat, the Tian Ren, was schedule to leave in five minutes and I tried to convince the staff to hold the boat.

They could not do that. I started to feel a bit panicky. The lady just took my ticket, tore it up, and handed me a new ticket. The next boat to Tianjin would not leave Incheon for another four days.

Lady: “Just come back on Tuesday.”

Me: “What do I have to pay?”

Lady: “Pay? You already paid for your ticket. Just come back on Tuesday. Next time don’t be late.”

At first, I was just a little frustrated at how calm everyone else was, like me missing my boat was no big deal. Then I remembered that I didn’t actually have any appointments and that it really was no big deal. Then I moved on to being surprised that, even though it was completely my own foolish fault that I missed the boat, I could just take the next one without paying anything extra. And I was really lucky to meet a kind stranger who knew exactly where to go and what to do.

As a traveler I may not always be lucky in finding the best accommodations or transportation but I always manage to find the nicest people at just the right time.

Waiting for my friend to come home from work so I can have a place to stay.

So I calmed down and tried to think of something fun I could do with another weekend in Korea. I called up a friend for a place to stay and started to plan another mini-Korea-trip.

All Pictures

South Korea

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.






  • Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
    • You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
  • Use common sense and you will be okay.
  • Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.

Boat From Incheon, Korea to Tianjin (Tanggu), China

How to make reservations:


  • +82-32-777-8260
  • For better English call the Korean Tourist Information line: +82-2-1330. This is for assistance only. The Korean Tourist information line is not associated with the boat company.

When you call they might tell you that you need to come down to the dock in person so they can photocopy your passport, visa to China, and other documents. You can ask them to let you fax or e-mail the information instead, and pay by credit card or bank transfer.

How to get to the dock:

  • 37°27’53.3″N 126°37’30.4″E
  1. Go to the Dong-Incheon Subway station.
  2. Take bus 23, 24, 17-1, or 3. There is a McDonald’s near the bus stop to get on the bus.
  3. You should get off the bus near another McDonald’s across the street from the port.


  • Schedule
  • Departing Procedure
  • The cost of the ticket depends on which boat you take and the class of your accommodations. I took the cheapest ticket on the boat to Tianjin and it cost a little over 100USD. My Chinese visa cost more than my fair to China.
  • You must have a valid visa before entering China. To get a visa to China while in Korea you must go through a travel agent, not the Chinese embassy.


Click for Google maps

Boat From Incheon, Korea to Tianjin (Tanggu), China


One Response to “I missed the boat”

  1. […] next attempt to leave Korea was more successful. I had given myself more than enough time to get lost a couple […]


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