I think I’m going to start making all of my post title’s misleading. It’s fun for me. And then it’s like a mystery!
Anyway, this weekend was great. Like, really great. Post open-class shenanigans really called for a major chill-out. The roomie is going through some tough times from the home front, so we stayed in Friday night and had a very quiet evening. It was well needed. Saturday morning I finally mailed off all my Christmas cards/gifts. Yay! I feel very responsible this year, getting everything done so far in advance, officially done with all shopping by December 13th-impressive, no? After the post office (full of the usual broken-Korean and pantomiming directions on my part, but everything went okay I think, and all parcels should be safely America-bound) I hopped on a bus and headed into the city for a day of shopping. Should NOT have worn my boots with heels, but that is neither here nor there. As the bf and I were together for this shopping excursion to COEX mall (and he was the one I was shopping for in the first place-my last giftee!-we had to do a little covert split-up/shop/reconvene and promise not to look in each other’s bags kinda thing. I was disappointed because I couldn’t find the things I’d been looking for, but I think he’ll be pretty happy with what I decided on anyway. Of course, that’s the most important part.
By the time we finished up at COEX we wanted to head over to Myeongdong to pick up a few more things (specifically, I wanted to go to American Apparel and buy this dress to wear on Christmas Day) but by then my feet were dying. Pain is beauty and all that. So instead of shopping some more, Jon and I found a little place near the station to stop and get a foot massage. I was slightly creeped out for sure-the sign was in Chinese instead of Korean, and I am very aware of the number of “massage” parlors that exist in the city, but we walked up the 4 narrow flights of stairs anyway and were treated to a lovely experience and a perfect respite for my poor tired feet. They first sent us to a tiny room to take off our shoes and put on extra-baggy shorts. Then we soaked our feet in piping hot water for a few minutes before being led down an incredibly narrow hallway to a dimly lit room in the back of the studio. Our masseuses (who were quite jolly and spoke Korean, not Chinese, which I found confusing) had us lay down on two beds, covered our eyes with towels and proceeded to punch, hit, rub and massage our lower legs and feet. For 40 minutes we laid there. I’ve never had a real massage before and I found it equal parts painful and relaxing. When we were all finished we changed and went back to the front desk only to find out that the price for the massage was a measly 20 bucks each. Awesome. I will definitely have to find my way back there and go the full body massage route.
By the time we’d finished our massages we were already late to meet our friends at the German Christmas Market that had begun at 5 o’clock. My friend Lydia had found out about the market, being put on by an international school in the part of Seoul that houses the U.N. and many NGOs, and I’d been looking forward to it all week. Jon and I finally made it there an hour after everyone else (blame it on exhaustion as we both thought we were heading to a completely different area in the city, took the subway nearly to said area, realized our mistake, then had to find a cab to take us to our original destination) and I was incredibly pleased by the little event that was put on. Hot wine, homemade waffles, lots of cute kids and I was even mistaken for a German! The lady was speaking in German to me, when I obviously was super confused, she switched to English, but I already felt very multi-cultural. I think she was led astray by my Nordic looks. And you know what will make your head hurt very, very badly? Hearing Koreans of any age speak German. It very literally gave me a headache which stayed with me for the whole night. It was wholly a very fun evening, and I found it interesting to see so many international folks in one place-and international not in the sense of English, American, Canadian and South African, which I’ve become used to, but even German-a culture that you wouldn’t expect to find in this Asian land.
A few hot wines (and one pic with Santa) later, everyone left the market and the bf and I headed off to check another must-do off of my Korea checklist. Love motel! Now this is not as dirty as some of you may think. Perverts! “Love motels”, as they’re called in these parts, are incredibly common and found in virtually every city or town in Korea. They are cheap and easy to find and used by two kinds of people. 1. People who are looking for a cheap place to spend the night (often drunk folk out for a night on the town who’d rather go to sleep then pay for a taxi) and 2. Young Korean couples who want to spend private time with their significant other. In Korean culture people live with their parents until marriage. For young couples this can be quite stifling, specifically if you’re in a sexual relationship, so love motels come in handy for a little independent time outside of the family home. I’ve heard many stories from other expat friends that have stayed at various love hotels (pretty much every single story involves finding one at the end of a long night of drinking) and they run the gamut-from seedy places covered in filth, with plastic sheets, black lighting and free *ahem* cockrings, to swanky joints with jacuzzi tubs, heart-shaped velvet beds, a selection of dvds to choose from, surround sound, and free robes, etc. All of these places are affordable, from as cheap as about 20,ooo won a night up to 100,000 or so. We did a bit of research online and agreed that the best ones are reported to be around Gangnam or Insadong, so after the market we hit the subway, went to Yeoksam Station and began to walk around, looking for any nice place that caught our eye. We found ourselves at the M Hotel for the evening, and I have to say that I was not disappointed and will gladly check it off my list. Our room, which we got for 60,000 won, had a big tv (sadly, no dvds), a big jacuzzi tub, free toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, etc. And even special mood lighting that you could play with-I amused myself with that for awhile, red and blue lights everywhere! No heart-shaped bed, no plastic sheets. And of course, as it’s a love motel, it was stocked up with condoms, lotions and whatnot. Hilarious. I love that Koreans have to sneak out of their houses to have a little sexy time, even when in the 30-something year old range. The best part is that love motels, or at least plenty of love motels, are nicer, more consumer friendly, more private, and cheaper than “real” hotels. I think next time I’m out for a late night with the posse, or even just going away for the weekend, I’ll have to think twice before I sneer at the thought of going to one.
Next weekend I’m going with Jon to pick up his parents at the airport. Meeting the bf’s rents for the first time-a bit nerve-wracking. However, I’m very lucky to be so lovable. I hope all goes well. And less then two weeks from now I’ll be in Hong Kong! Yay! Chinese Christmas here I come!