Thursday, November 5, 2009

Love Hotel, Seoul Style

Oh people.

What an interesting couple of days it's been.

We got on our flight in Singapore and it was great. Six hours later we arrived in Seoul and there my brother and his fiancee were waiting and it almost felt like we had never gone on our adventure - like it was three weeks ago and we had just arrived from San Francisco.

My mom wanted to take them shopping for some household items, because home feels a lot more like HOME when you have the little things that you need. So they picked up pots and pans, some silver wear, towels etc. I think they were really happy and grateful. After shopping we went out to dinner to a Korean barbecue restaurant that was SO good! I don't even know all of the different things they brought to us, but there were at least six dishes to work with and they all involved using the beef that was cooking on the middle of the table. It was our first real Korean meal and we really enjoyed it - a lot of different flavors to try and the way that it was cooked by us on the table was really fun. A sort of DIY Benihana...but you know...Korean.

After dinner we got our things together and headed towards our hotel. My brother had never heard of it, so he didn't know where it was but eventually we found it. It turned out the hotel was sort of up an alley-way and in a sort of random part of town. Booking hotels online, especially in a city you've never been to before, is always hard because they tend to put the nicest possible pictures of the place on the website. You look at the site and you think "huh. This looks pretty nice, and it's a good price. Lets book it."

Well as I mentioned in my first post from the trip, my brother really has an interesting way of 'not looking on the bright side'. Always has. Sometimes its funny, sometimes totally predictable and sometimes I want to shake the shit out of him and say YOU ARE NOT BEING HELPFUL. This was one of those times because as we pulled up to the hotel he starts saying "Oh my god. This is where you guys are staying?? This is a LOVE hotel! This is where people bring their Chinese prostitutes. I can't believe you guys are staying here."

Knowing him the way we do, we have to take it with a grain of salt. I mean, most everything he says involves some level of extreme exaggeration. You can tell this is happening when five minutes later he is saying things like "Oh well, I'm sure the ROOMS are fine." And frankly we didn't see any prostitutes around and I was starting to feel kind of sick from dinner and I really had to pee and I figured, seriously, he's never heard of this hotel before, how can he possibly know?

So we take our bags out of the car and start heading up the stairs and I kid you not, the biggest fucking RAT scampers from out behind the door and INTO the hotel "foyer".

I gagged a little bit and then I died a quiet little death.

Meantime my brother's fiancee says the Korean equivalent of OH HAIL NO and goes inside with my mom to convince them to give us a refund.

Eventually she was able to cancel the reservation but it turned out that the hotel we were hoping to change to was all booked. We could have spent all night looking around, but there is a Hyatt near my brother's house that they said "always has vacancies." So we headed over there. The only thing was, the Hyatt was pretty expensive, actually as it turned out it was a little more than three times as much as the other hotels we've stayed in on this trip. And fancy. But as my mom is talking to the front desk I slowly want to kill myself my stomach hurts so bad and I'm thinking for the love of god woman, please just book the hotel for at least one night, I'm dying over here.

So she does. Because honestly we just wanted to be done with the whole thing, and hey, who minds luxury all that much?

It was nice to get into the hotel, after a while I started to feel better, I waited to catch Jon on Skype for a quick chat while my mom dozed off. And I am not kidding you, as I'm sitting there quietly on my twin bed, our next door neighbors start doing "IT" so loudly there was no ignoring it. And unless they were using a clapper light and they were turning it off and on constantly, there was also a lot of spanking going on. And I die for the third time that day.

Apparently, there are "Love hotels" of many different kinds in this city.

I told my brother this when he picked us up for lunch today. We were meeting his fiancee's family. His fiancee is named Se Eun by the way, pronounced "Say Oon".

We had a very traditional Korean meal which had who knows how many courses. All I know is that the waitresses kept coming and coming and coming with soups and kimchi, and whole fishes and salads and little dishes with things that I did not recognize. There was a lot of seafood which my mom and I don't really eat, but I felt I had to take one for the team and try everything which included some sort of egg pancake with squid tentacles and oysters and who knows what else. It was a really good experience, and I mean no disrespect to them or to Korean food when I say that there were a few times that I literally gagged after taking a bite.

We loved Se Eun's family though. They could not have been more friendly or more perfect in our minds. Which is fitting because we love her too.

And tomorrow she officially becomes part of our family.