Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Jeju Algorithm

I like to travel with minimal or random plans. Traveling to Jeju was remarkable. But it did give some challenges in unplanned random moves, due to the language barrier. Google maps were showing in Korean. It is easy to read sentences in foreign languages as long as the language is written in a script that you can read (such as a Latin script). But that is not the case with Korean.

The locals in Jeju were amicable and came towards to help us with directions even without we asking. But unfortunately, most of them were able to speak only Korean. Then, there are information screens in every other bus stop. Though they are supposed to work in many languages including Korean, English, and Chinese, the touch screen was not working correctly, and it was nearly impossible to change the language in many of those machines. Buses had the information in English, such as the next stop, and the stop after that.

We had to go to a place in the main street. We know that it is a straight line. But several buses were going on the road along the direction. We decided to get on a random bus. We planned to stay on the bus as long as it goes straight. But unfortunately, at the next stop, it turned to a side road in the right. We got down and returned to the main street, and boarded another bus in the next stop. This bus also turned left after two stops. Finally, we asked a foreigner. He did not know the location that we are talking about. But when I told him that we need to go in a straight line, it is probably number 105 (not the actual number he mentioned. I just forgot what he said at this time. So let's assume that is 105 for the sake of this blog post). He warned us that he is not so sure. Then we were waiting. Another bus came. But not number 105. We decided to continue our Jeju algorithm. Our Jeju algorithm works with limited knowledge and certain assumptions. The path is definitely in a straight line, and there is at least one bus that reaches the destination. There is, of course, no direct bus between our origin and destination. We boarded this bus though it is not number 105. Luckily, the bus indeed took us to the destination. Not bad. We reached the destination by using three buses. Ideally, we should have used only two buses. But as our algorithm is not optimized, we ended up with three buses. :D Our return trip was tuned with the knowledge gained, and we returned merely with just one transit (using two buses).

Though this was not, of course, an optimal experience (we wasted some time and money for the bus fare for each leg of our trip). But it did leave us with some exciting memory to talk about for the years to come. :D

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