Starting off my two week journey to Korea and Japan, I missed my original flight. I thought it was at 3pm but it was really 1pm (13:00). However, I got to the airport at 12:30 and when I went to the Jeju counter (the carrier I was suppose to be on), no one was there. Frantically searching for information, I was told to call their customer service hotline to see what they can do. However, when I tried to call, no one picked up and when I told the person who told me to call, she said it’s probably because it’s a holiday in Hong Kong and all their staff have a day off. What kind of customer service hotline for an airline can just stop taking calls when there are flights… anyway, not being able to contact them, I had to make a decision and I decided to buy another ticket with another airline to Seoul. This instantly set me back $300 or so, but the trip must go on.
Landing in Seoul, a fellow AIESECer (Y) whose house I’d be staying at picked me up and since it was quite late, we headed straight to his place. His house was so intriguing, from the toilet that sprays your butt to the bed warmer to the fat jiggiler that claims to help you lose that fat, I was definitely like a child seeing new toys. His mom was also competing with my mom in terms of coolness. Although she couldn’t speak English, she kept telling Y to tell me to treat the house as my own. That’s not the reason for the coolness, but we’ll get there later. Knowing that Korea has the fastest internet speed in the world, I did a speed test on his internet and the results showed that it was faster than all other networks that I’ve ever tried it on!
The next day, after snuggling in the bed warmer, we went to explore some of Seoul. However, after the first temple, I lost most interest in most of the sites. Later for dinner, we had what we in Toronto know as Korean BBQ. However, their style is quite different. You order the meat (which is usually pig) and then you grill it, mix it up with kimchi, lettuce and some sauce and you eat it. Their “Korean BBQ” was not buffet style which was kind of disappointing.
In Korea, all guys have to do a mandatory 22 month or so army training and Y being in cadets or something, had to go to camp that weekend. However, he insisted that he and his mom would much rather have me stay at their house during that time instead of trying to find somewhere else to stay. I wasn’t really up for that idea; who’d be comfortable letting a complete stranger stay like that and how will I be limited if I stayed at his place. However, after asking around, no one could help me with such a short notice and so I ended up taking his offer.
This is where the coolness of Y’s mom started to come in. While Y was at camp, I stayed at his house. I was only at his house to sleep and for the two nights, I didn’t get home until 7 – 9am (more of that later) and I slept till 1 or so, but each time when I woke up, she’d have some sort of meal waiting for me. You can see that the meal took a lot of effort to make, and it was probably better than anything else I ate in Korea! Moreover, when I did get home, she’d ask if I want breakfast but after understanding that I just want to get some proper sleep, she just did her own thing. All in all, she was very serious about me treating her place as my own.
While in Seoul, I stumbled upon an outdoors climbing wall. It’s completely free to use so long as you have your own equipment.
One of my lunches that was made by Y’s mom; it was a lot of food but also soo good.
And this is Y’s mom along with the food she made for me and her.
So why did I not get home until 9? Well the subway closes at 12 and starts up at 5. The first night, I was out with some local AIESECers eating and at an arcade, and by the time we left, my line was already closed (it closed earlier than all other lines). The LCP also lived on that line and so she was also stranded. They decided that we would go to their AIESEC office and sleep there, which sounded like a lot of fun. However, when we got there, the doors were all locked and so we went to something called a jimjilbang.
jimjilbang was the coolest thing I’ve ever been at. So what it means is a steam room where you wear clothes into. But the places that offer those also have many different types of saunas varying in temperature and also water for each gender where people are absolutely naked. jimjilbangs are also known for being open 24hrs which means people sleep there. The floors are usually heated and people can get a pillow and just sleep on the floor. This jimjilbang also had a computer room, multiple saunas made out of different types of crystals and many common areas. To put the cherry on this perfect cake, jimjilbangs are also dirt cheap, normally costing 8000 won ($8)!
People just sleeping in a room at a jimjilbang in Seoul.
One of the steam rooms with some sort of rock material.
The steam rooms went from -2C to 81.1C…
There’s also some thing going around with youths about turning a towel into this shape to mimick a sheep and then trying to crack a hard boiled egg with it… I think it’s from some Korean drama.
All in all, I didn’t find Seoul as a city too special and so I found that my 4 days here was enough. However, I probably would’ve shortened or skip this place all together if I knew about Jeju Island earlier…