Friday, December 20, 2013

inn of pubes

Boy, I really know how to pick 'em.

I'm typing this entry on my laptop via a Wi-Fi connection siphoned from... somewhere. I'm in a yeogwan, a type of inn or motel, but it's got to be one of the shittiest yeogwans I've ever visited. It's called Mi Jeong Yeogwan, and it's in downtown Seoul, just a hundred or so meters away from Jongno 3-ga Station. It appears to be run by two older women whose main function is casting suspicious looks at foreign guests. They led me up to my room and showed me into it. I had to go back later to ask for a key, which hadn't been given to me upon payment.

Ah, my room. My room is fucking filthy. The toilet has shit speckles in it. There's barely enough toilet paper on the roll to last two nights, and I'm here for three. My bed linens are full of hairs—long, short, and suspiciously helical. The electric sockets at the end of the extension cords are covered in a quarter inch of dust. There are mysterious spatters—blood or feces, I'm not sure—on the wallpaper. The metal door makes this place feel like a converted prison. But I had already paid for my room; it was too late to complain, and this ain't America, where you can expect a modicum of customer service. So I sit upon the pube-infested mattress and type this missive. God knows what diseases I'm absorbing through my ass.

In downtown Seoul, getting a room for under W30,000 is pretty cheap, but the market rule applies: You Get What You Pay For. I had, at first, gone to the love hotel next door to this inn, but that place's rates were exorbitant: W50,000 a night for weekdays, increasing to W70,000 and W80,000 a night on weekends. My current digs are costing me W85,000 for three nights.

So I'll put up with the filth and ponder the fact that I'm not rich enough to afford decent accommodations. Not yet, anyway.

The ride up to Seoul was quicker than expected. I took the local train from Hayang to East Daegu Station, then hopped aboard the KTX bullet train for the two-hour trip to Seoul. I think I slept most of the way; maybe I snored. My day had been fairly stressful; Miss Distraught had come into my office to plead her case; she predictably wept and wept in an attempt to gain my sympathy, standing at my work station and refusing to leave despite my thirty-six attempts to tell her to go. I was tempted to drag her out of the office by brute force, but I knew that that wouldn't do. Part of me thinks the girl is a mite crazy. It wouldn't be hard to imagine her hanging on to my ankles, allowing herself to be dragged and wailing the entire time, while I'm trying to walk down the hallway.

The high point of my evening, after my arrival in Seoul, was where I had dinner: it was a place called Pho Mein, a Vietnamese-style restaurant with a fairly American "basement chic" ambience (think: sleek lighting, painted-over brick walls, and super-modern furniture). Instead of ordering the pho, I had cashew chicken and an assortment of spring rolls and dumplings with spicy sweet-and-sour dipping sauce and sweet peanut sauce. The whole thing was expensive at W28,000 (about $25), but the portions weren't skimpy and the quality was quite good. If I could afford to, I'd go there again.

Oh, yes: Seoul is cold. Much colder than Hayang. So I was right: the Daegu region does retain its warmth, even in the winter. Good thing I brought my thick coat.

So—from a stressful day at the office to... the inn of pubes. Nice transition. Still, it's good to be back in Seoul, even if the place has already bled my wallet dry (I did, in fact, do a bit of Christmas shopping). For Friday: I've got a 1PM appointment in Itaewon, then a 6:15PM meet-up with friends for a 6:30PM dinner at a Thai restaurant called Wang Thai—also in Itaewon. On Saturday, I meet up with my KMA contact in Yeouido, and we'll talk turkey. I'm happy to report that my university has given its consent to my working with KMA, so the whole thing is very above-board.

And that's why I'm in Seoul: partly for business, partly for pleasure. If all goes well, 2014 will be a much more lucrative year for this ugly bastard.


_

7 comments:

John Melvin said...

I get my biggest chuckles lately reading your posts. Thanks.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"So I was right: the Daegu region does retain its warmth, even in the winter."

Just wait . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

John said...

Have a great holiday Kevin! It is great that things are working out for you. Down at the bottom of the planet I am taking a 3 week vacation for Christmas before starting up again. Business is looking up after a pretty horrific year. We should network sending students down to NZ. I'd work you out mate's rates!!

Charles said...

Ick. Next time skip the KTX and use the money you save on accommodations. There is now way I would touch under-30k accommodations in downtown Seoul. I hope you're bathing in Purell.

Kevin Kim said...

John,

Thanks for the comment, and I'm sorry to hear that it's been a harsh year for you. Yes, I'd love to send a mass of students your way, but I'd need to find kids who are both motivated to study English and desirous of a New Zealand experience.

Omandazzzler said...

Why not CS?

P.S. Don't shoot me for my silence. You've been on my mind a lot but procrastination is far too powerful a force.

Kevin Kim said...

Amanda,

Mainly because it never occurred to me. CS goes very much against the grain of how I normally function. It was cool the few times I was able to use it on my walk—this is how I met you and Chuck and Lori, after all—but my default mentality is to avoid disturbing people in their homes. Yes, I realize that, if you're on CS, then it's no imposition for someone to invite him- or herself into your place. But still.