Stuff happened, as it does. Through negligence and manipulation, through ignorance and good intentions—the shape of the bricks didn’t matter as much as the direction of the road, and that road lead me out of South Korea, quick-like (thank you, Allison!).
There are many steps between attempting to leave a country and accidentally staying the night in a room that offers tiny complimentary cock rings next to their tiny packs of complimentary coffee. First of all, when it comes to travelling, I am a bit of a worrier. If I am meant to catch a bus that comes at 14:00, you better believe I am at the station at 13:00 with my ticket or fare (the same fare I’ve checked and rechecked) in my hand.
So, when I frantically booked a flight for my husband and I to get the heck out of dodge and I realized we had a noon takeoff I went into crisis mode.
We had to get to the airport from a location on the other side of the country! We were talking taxis, trains and subways. We were talking relying on us not missing anything or nothing being late. The only safe option in my mind was for us to arrive at the airport during the wee hours of the morning, snooze a few (10) hours and waking refreshed and more importantly, on time. I knew this would work. I’d seen that Tom Hanks movie.
(It should be noted that at this point my husband recognized that fire in my eyes that told him I was sure that mattress would fit in that space, was positive my hair would look great that color and that there was nothing short of a court order that could convince me that one guy wasn’t the lead in that one movie and he kindly went along with everything)
At first, the plan came together, well—as planned. I made my silent goodbyes, snuck out under the cover of reluctant deception and completed the first few legs of our journey that brought us all the way to the train station. A station that, and this will become important later, was relatively in the middle of nowhere. Armed with my less than fluent Korean I asked for a train ticket. I was responded by a man who spoke perfect Korean, but that is as far as I will go in complimenting him (side note: I have since declared this man as the last person I will dislike in Korea).
Even though there were trains running for 6 more hours, not a single one had space for the two of us. Mr. Perfect Korean told us we could get on the first train the next day, the same one that departed a scant 9 hours from that moment in time. Did I mention that at that time I’d demanded we leave so early that I had made us basically homeless?
Herculean is the word I will use to describe the effort it must’ve taken my husband to smile and reply, “It is only nine hours.”
Fast forward five more hours. I’m tired, husband is tired, we’ve been stared at by hundreds of people including Mr. Perfect Korean who walked pass us many times in the night and gave a look of what I mistook as understanding sympathy. We didn’t care though, we had less time left to wait than we had waited. The worst was over.
The last train of the night came and left. Mr. Perfect Korean walked by us on his way home. I offered a small smile and he offered the stoic Korean stare. Then we were informed that the train station was about to close.
For three hours.
(I could go into a rant about how Mr. PK knew what our tickets were for, knew what we were attempting to do camped in that corner and still made no attempt at telling us the station closed, but I won’t. I will choose to simply dislike him instead.)
I was okay with sleeping on a bench in the station but I could not fathom waiting outside, in a dress, in the predawn hours, for three hours.
I didn’t cry, not in a Herculean way, but impressive all the same. The same security guard who mimed that we were being kicked out offered us two words and one gesture of hope, “Motel. Walking.” As he pointed to what looked like a dark hill.
Fifteen minutes later we drag our eight bags down a manicured street to a black-windowed building with a bright, multicolored LED sign that said: S* Motel
Maybe it was the stress, the exhaustion, or perhaps I am just considerably unobservant. Whatever it was, the only thought I had as I negotiated a reasonable price (in my not so fluent Korean) for my husband and I to stay in a bed for a few hours was that we were very lucky. The price was fair and to be honest, the elevator, hallway and room were straight up swanky.
I thought it was weird that there wasn’t a real wall that separated the bath and the bedroom and that the tissues were placed directly by the bed, despite the many other surfaces it could’ve been placed, but I wasn’t huddled outside so the whole thing was a win.
A few hours later my alarm goes off and I feel weirdly refreshed. We start putting in contacts and brushing teeth when I notice the complimentary items…
…the foam pad by the Jacuzzi bath that offered a lounging view of the bed and shower…
…the presence of mirrors and massaging beds…
…and the realization was cemented when I checked the TV guide to see the only programming offered is of the erotic nature.
I proclaim to my husband, “This is a sex motel!” At which point we can both only think one thing, okay two.
One, I hope they clean the sheets.