Okay guys, so the other day, I kind of left you hanging. Well, creating suspense is my specialty. As you hopefully remember from yesterday's blog we left the theme/amusement park, "Lotte World." and it was 9:30 when we decided to head back to the dormitory. We exited the park, stopped by a 7-Eleven to get some water, and hopped on the subway. As we slouched on the subway benches, barely keeping our eyes open, I inquired to Nadeia about what time the last subway ran. She laughed and said it probably wouldn’t close until 3 am because that is the time that they close in New York City (her home town). “Ah. Okay, good. I was just curious because we wouldn’t want to get stuck out in the middle of no where on one of our crazy adventures.”
Nadeia: “Nah. Don’t worry about it. We are pros when it comes to the subway.”
Me: “Oh. Okay. That’s good.”
So we waited eleven stops in slow anticipation of our crack beds at our temporary home. We got off and trotted through the little boutique walking mall on the way to our dorm.
Me: “Guys, isn't there a curfew here or something. I think we should get home soon. Let’s hurry.”
Room mates: “Oh yeah, I think it is at 11:30 or something, but it’s not like they would shut us out or anything. We can just call the Ajussi and ask him to open it for us.”
So we walk to towards the campus, past one of the thousands of 7-Eleven’s in Seoul and we see the BIG main gate. ‘Ah. Fewf. It’s open, so we walk somewhat rapidly through the main gate and greet the guards. “Anneyonghasseyo. (bow heads)” We look to our phones, oh my gosh guys it is 11:30 now! So we start going faster up the practically 180 degree hill to our dorm.
Nadeia; “Sprint guys! Sprint!”
We all three take off on our blistered and sore feet, sprinting up the hill like mad men. When we finally reach the top of the hill, we are tired and out of breath, but we don’t stop there. We see the second (smaller) gate up a head and we run towards it. ‘Ah ha, the light is on, and I think I see construction work signs.’ True to my eyes, there were two big construction block gates up a head so we could walk through those and get to our dorm. ‘YES! We made it!’ Maybe, thirty feet away from our dorm entrance we walk to the glass entrance and see the most horrifying sight ever. There is a huge metal gate that was pulled down from above the door and locked into the ground. The lounge was dark, and the Security Ajussi was no where to be seen. We panicked. What are we going to do? Can we call and ask someone to open the door for us? No! No one has their Korean cell phones yet, and no one else has an international calling phone like me and mine was dead! “Crap!”
Me: I start looking around for something to climb on. “Hey guys, I could climb up on that dumpster over there and squeeze into the second floor window that's open. Nadeia can you hoist me up?” (Most of the windows have bars on them)
Nadeia: “Are you crazy?! You would like paralyze yourself or something.”
Me: “What about climbing up on that yellow thing and getting onto the balcony first Zerin?”
Zerin: “No way, I would like break my spine or something.”
Nadeia: “I think Zerin could fit into that window there easily.”
Zerin: “Yeah, but I can’t get up there!”
Me: “Oh my gosh. What are we going to do? I guess we could stay at a hotel.”
Our thoughts: What hotels are near here? Love motels, basement hotels, drug hotels where we get knocked out and our organs are sold on the black market like in that one movie. AHHHH!!!!!
Zerin: "I have a friend who has been here before and she said that whenever she stayed out past curfew she would just stay at a Jimjiban.”
Nadeia: “Yeah, I have my map with tourist sites on it and it has a Jimjiban close by on it. We can just take the subway there.”
FYI: For those of you who aren't familiar with the word Jimjiban, a Jimjiban is a Korean Spa where you can come for a very cheap price and bathe, shower, swim, massage, eat, and most importantly, SLEEP! If you ever watch Korean television, you will notice that pretty much everyone goes to the Jimjiban. Whether you are running away from your mean husband for a few days, stressed out from school, or go as a family fun day of relaxation, 99.9% of Koreans go there. They provide you with food, water, clothes, soaps, combs, hair dryers, towels, etc. Depending on how nice the Jimjiban is you could get the royal treatment, or a mere scrub down.
Me: “Okay, we should hurry because I am worried about being out on the streets too late.”
Girls: “Yeah. Let’s go.”
We all are freaking out and screaming oh my g....Brownies!! Because it is such a crazy thing to happen. What kind of dorm locks down like a prison at 11:30pm? What if we were inside and we had a medical emergency? Would they break the glass and throw us out the window and hope we don’t die? What the heck!
FYI: It was exactly 11:45 pm when we got to our dorm building, so that means that the security Ajussi didn’t even wait 15 minutes for us to get back. I feel a little insulted! Like doesn't he care about the students at all?
So, we speed walk to the subway and see last minute train stragglers running up the escalator steps. "Wait a minute! Running up the escalator? The escalator is turned off? OMGOSH’, yes people, we walk down the steps to find out the inevitable truth, the subway closes at 11:30 pm just like the dorm. Holy Croookies!!!!! My room mates being the New Yorkers that they are, suggest we simply take a taxi.
Me: ‘okay that’s fine. Let’s go.’
However, the taxi driver doesn't speak English. So what do we do? We show him our map and plead Jimjiban gagoshipohyo!!! Translation: “Please take us to a Jimjiban, Ajussi!!” 짐 지 반 가 거 십 어 요.
So, off we go, the Ajussi drops us off about five minutes away and tells us to be safe. He even gave us a discount! Instead of paying 32 won he only charged us 30 won. How nice is that? He really seemed to care about us like we were his own children.....then we saw where he took us. It looked like some sort of gangster head quarters where we were definitely going to get mugged. We walked down the alley, me pepper spray in hand. My friends, walking closely arm in arm. We look left and right as we make our way down the dark alley. There were so many places someone could be hiding. It looked and smelled like a fish market. (Yuck!) Finally, at the end of the street, on the right side we saw the Jimjiban. It was really old and run down looking, but where else could we go? This was definitely not the Jimjiban that we had seen on our tourist guide maps. "Oh well!" Making our way in we found surprisingly that we only had to pay seven dollars a person and we could stay all night. "Yes!" Well, we got our little pink sauna suits and our tiny orange towels and made our way to our lockers. We were so tired that we just showered off a bit and hit the floor. Literally, we had to sleep on a floor. Luckily it was heated though, because we didn't have any mats or blankets. We just had a little, square, block that was meant to serve as a pillow. If I hadn't been up since six that morning and spent all day running around a theme park in the blazing heat, I would never have been able to sleep. But, oh did I sleep, in the heat, the weird smelling pillow things, and my new friends at my sides. To say it was disturbing was an understatement. The sauna was filled with all these old grannies running around buck naked like wild Amazonian’s. I mean....ewwwww....I would look away to avoid one granny and then next thing I new....another naked grandma. ‘AHHH!!!’ We all chose a corner in the sleeping room and huddled up together as if the three of us sleeping together would provide as a wall and safe guard against the horde of wild, naked, grannies around us. I swear I woke up three times that night, each time thinking I would awake to find myself being taken away by some gangsters for my organs. At one point, I awoke to the sound of a man's voice, alas it was thankfully just an old granny who smoked way too much in her life, but seriously, I was concerned. Nadeia, being the sweet heart that she is, woke up as well when she heard the man-like voice and said quote- “I was about to jump in front of all the sleeping grannies and be like, “I will protect you granny. Quick hide behind me. Quick cover yourselves. You’re like...NAKED!!!”
I cracked up laughing at this and said I was just about to bite and beat the heck out of any man who came down there. Let me tell you, I was about to go Rambo on someone’s booty. Startled by all of this, I stayed up until we left and that was at 4:15 am. Oh yeah. Seriously. I sat down and kept watch over my friends as they slept. At 5:30 I woke them and said we should shower and get back to the dorms. So, at 6am we left and made our way back. Thankfully, the subway opens early, so we were able to take it and one stop later we were back at our school. Back through the now completely open gates at 6:15 am, we made our way back into the dorms and slept like there was no tomorrow. Well, my roomies did. I was still to shook up to sleep, so I showered for what seemed like forever and phoned my mom. Yeah, I told her what happened. It was sure one crazy story. And let me tell you, if you ever have problems bonding with your roommates, just go get stuck in the city in the middle of the night in a foreign country and all of your problems will be solved. Amen. I say Amen. I did pray for God’s protection that night and let me tell you. Thank God we were okay.
Well, this was a long blog post, but I felt like it needed to be in order to make it more real for you over there in the US who can’t hear it in person. I think I will also make a video where I tell you exactly what happened. I will try to get my room mates to do it with me. If you don’t believe me, you will after this video.
Tip of the day: “Make sure to find out when things close in your city!!”