Monday, June 1, 2009

Fumbling about in the dark

Been listening to the African Pearls compilations. They're all pretty fantastic. These songs are from the one that's called "One Day on Radio Mali"


On Saturday morning, Lindsey was fiddling around with her hiking boots in the shoe-shedding chamber of the motel we were staying at in Seoul, and she said "I feel like I spend a lot of time in Korea flailing my arms around trying to keep motion sensor lights on."

It never really dawned on me until that point how much time I really did spend dealing with motion sensor lights. The main problem is the lights always stay on for an amount of time just short enough to never let you finish what you need to do before being left fumbling around in the dark. Just like elevator and subway train doors in this country, they are pretty much unforgiving. Motion detecting lights are usually the only thing lighting up hallways in most apartments and motels, so if you don't modify your behavior a bit in various ways (i.e. flailing your arms about wildly) you can easily be left fumbling about in darkness quite often. In the apartment building where I live, for instance, I know that if I come home at night, I have to get my key out of my pocket and get it ready for action before I exit the elevator on my floor. Otherwise, the light will turn off right after I get the key out and at the exact moment I need to see the key hole in my door. Energy efficiency gone harshly off-course.

Another thing is the sheer lack of incandescent light bulbs. Try finding one in the city I live in. It's actually pretty tough. I understand that fluorescent energy is a lot more efficient and good for energy conservation, but I would kill to sit under incandescent lights for just one day. People do have their limits.

I went to Seoul over the weekend because my friend Ashleigh was leaving Korea on Sunday (for good), so there was a night out at Big Mammas to see her off. Lindsey and I stayed in a love motel called the Grand Prix. Most of the midrange options for motels in Korea are love motels. They are ever-present everywhere. It's very common for Koreans, especially women, to live with their parents until they are married, so there are a lot of "alternatives" made available for couples in this situation, such as love motels or DVD rooms (for the less expensive and more brief meetings). It's not that the rooms have any overtly erotic themes or anything, but there is usually some sort of mood lighting available, a couple of terrible porn channels (really Korean porn must be the worst in the world), and the occasional vending machine distributing some hilarious and surprising accessories, as well as the complimentary condoms next to the complimentary hair products(?) and brushes.

What's interesting is that it's fairly commonplace for families to stay in these motels, because in some areas, it's the only option available if you don't want to upgrade to the Hilton or something. So I asked Elvis how Koreans usually deal with the more adult elements of the place when they bring their children. And apparently, they just ask the motel worker to prepare the room a little differently and to disable the free porn channels. Simple as that. Multi-purpose, you have to appreciate that.

The rooms do a great job of keeping the daylight out though, so you can really blast the AC and sleep forever. On top of that, sometimes the showers come with these crazy mist jets, or there's even a spa tub, maybe shaped like a shell with free packs of bubble bath powder. So they can be pretty nice places to stay, and it's always fun to find out what odd surprises they've supplied or modified the room with.

All motel rooms in Korea have a shoe-shedding chamber, which at times is a closet sized room with tile floor where you take off your shoes before going through another, completely extraneous door before entering the room. Sometimes this door has another set of locks on it, so I guess this can function as an added security to the room, although this couldn't be more unnecessary anywhere than in Korea.

Wow, I had this terrible dream last night that I woke up in the morning and had this long weird mustache with a part in the middle. Where did that come from?

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