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The Truth about Living in a Guesthouse

Even though my adventures in Korea have been over for quite some time now, I’ve decided to keep posting some stuff that I didn’t post while I was there, or that I just thought of, so you will see some more posts popping up over the coming weeks/months.
Besides, I have to keep this blog warm for when I’m going back to Seoul, right?

So this post is about living in a guesthouse in Korea.

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It can be pretty rough; every time you want to take a shit, someone’s taking a shower; when you want to sleep because you have to get up early, someone’s going/gone clubbing and thus crazy loud; and when you want some privacy you’re shit out of luck because you’re sharing your room with 1 to 7 other people.
But even though, especially in the first months, I considered moving to a hotel many times, it didn’t take me that long to discover the positive sides to living in a hostel.

The first full month I stayed there was December, and my room (8 bed mixed dorm) was always filled with incredibly loud and obnoxious people. Unlike when doing volunteer projects, the people you meet in a hostel definitely aren’t all awesome. In fact, most of them are assholes. But after the neverending waves of clubbers and “I done gon’ screw me sum yellow pussy” people in December, I got to experience the real guesthouse life.

I shared my room with one, sometimes two people, and they were usually very well behaved. Some people came in who would also start living there for a longer time; my Korean hyung Kwang Bong, who was in his thirties but always acted like a kid; the Kpop crazy Swede Caroline and later on the tallest and manliest motherfucker ever, Daniel.
Aside from that, the staff was also incredibly homely. Watching TV together, eating pizza, drinking somaek, Jin always greeting everyone with a cheery ‘good morning!’ even though you stumbled out of your bedroom looking like a zombie at 15:00; it’s all stuff that you would never get to experience in a hotel room.

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On top of that, I realized living in a hotel would be so lonely. At Pencil (my guesthouse) I met about 10 new people each week, if not more. And even if 9 of them were assholes, that’s still 1 good person every 7 days! I thinking living there has made me a bit more social, and I’m sure it kept me from getting depressed because of loneliness many times. Hell, I even let myself be persuaded to head out clubbing with them sometimes, and whenever there were some people there who were just in Seoul for the weekend to get drunk, we had drinking games and lots of great times in the communal living room. Maybe knowing the chances of ever seeing one of them again was so small had made people a little less cautious, but there’s a lot of great stories I got to witness while I was there staying sober while people went out and came back from clubbing.

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One situation stands out in particular..One morning I woke up and stumbled to the downstairs bathroom to take my morning wee, but found it was locked, a big sign saying ‘BATHROOM IS BROKEN, I HAVE CALLED THE PUMBLER -DJ’ plastered on the door. All morning people were talking and complaining about it, wondering what had happened. Some rumors started flying right away, because people had heard some drunk chick had flooded the upstairs bathroom which had led to water damage even downstairs. A little later, a guy came down to explain to us what had happened; one of the American guests had had a liiiittle bit too much to drink the night before and had decided to take a shower. Subsequently, she passed out while the water was still on. The drainage in the upstairs bathroom wasn’t very good, so the water started to rise and fill the room almost up until the threshold when he walked in and saw the girl sleeping on the floor, water almost completely covering her mouth and nose. She could’ve drowned if he hadn’t lifted her up to put her in bed.
That wasn’t the end of it though. I didn’t actually know who he was talking about yet, because he didn’t mention her name, but somewhere in the afternoon one of the girls came down the stairs. As most other people, she was complaining about both bathrooms being locked and unusable when I asked her about her night. She said she only remembered stepping under the shower and then woke up in her bed. Some pieces of the puzzle started coming together and the guy explained to her it was her that caused all the damage. It was totally hilarious to see this sudden realization, let me tell you. “I DID THAT? FUCK. I ALMOST DROWNED? I BROKE THE HOSTEL? I BROKE THE HOSTEL! FUCK!”

Even though I learned to enjoy such antics and the constant presence of other people, I sometimes needed some time for myself. I usually retreated to the table in the kitchen that no one ever used, hooked up my laptop, and ignored everything else. The table was kind of out of sight so usually I’d be ignored while people were talking in the living room.

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Over the course of my time there, Pencil really started to feel like home to me, and I miss it dearly.
Even though I am planning to get my own room when I go back to Seoul, I’m pretty sure I will try to stay there again, if only for a little while.

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This entry was posted on 15 March 2012 by in Korea, Travel and tagged , , , , , , .

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