Seoul is a customer-service kind of country. People were eager to help.Our cab driver’s mission was to get us to the hotel as quickly as possible, despite the traffic. That made for some white-knuckle passengering.
When we checked into our hotel – The ibis Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong, the young man at lobby reception sprang into action, dispatching a bell man to load up our luggage. At the 19th Floor desk where we signed in, three people called out greetings as we stepped off the elevator. If Hub and I stood on a corner puzzling over a street map, someone would approach and ask if we needed help.
The thing is, although folks were proud that they ‘knew English’. However, once we got beyond stock phrases like, ‘how are you’ and ‘where is the x Temple’, complex sentences were more of a challenge, even for the red-jacketed ladies of the Tourist Police. Our broken Korean didn’t help, either. But we managed.
From our hotel, we could walk to most of the tourist sites. Our room on the sixteenth floor was bright and clean. And blissfully quiet.
As with most mid-priced accommodations outside of North America, the bathroom was a work of architectural ingenuity. Tiny, yes, but with a great shower and consistent hot water. It was the toilet that caught our attention. [Yes, I take photos of bathrooms.]
Let me preface my description by saying that Koreans are seriously into technology. When you turn on the bathroom light, the commode springs into action with a whisper, as a tube extends and puffs warm air across your nether regions. We had a lot of laughs about the thing extending then retracting – light on, light off, light on – you get the picture. First of all, the seat was warmed, which is great for those who like to linger.
If you pressed another button, you could get a bum wash and rinse and…other things. Clean inside and out. Needless to say, I didn’t fool around with the technology, just in case. When you finish your business and close the lid, it flushes automatically. Nice.
By day, Koreans are sedate and well-mannered. Very fashionably dressed – the men in suits and ties, with nice shoes and belts. The women are the height of fashion. Everyone – and I mean even old people and kids – has a cell phone. The adults carry theirs in hand like a badge. The children wear theirs around their neck on lanyards. The cost for a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 was about $400 – half of what we are extorted for in Canada. I was tempted to buy one, just to have, but I didn’t. A new Hyundai sedan is about $20,000. They are manufactured locally, which sort of makes sense. But when you consider we don’t get those kinds of deals in Canada for good made here, it makes you wonder.
Despite the horrendous traffic and omnipresent crowds of people in the downtown area, it was relatively quiet.
At night, the street outside our hotel turned into a mini Times Square, choked with food carts, people strolling, snacking, buying stuff. All the stores along the street were open. I haven’t seen so many Starbucks and 7-11s in a long time.
Vibrant and amazing.