Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Night in Hongdae (part 14)

I could barely see straight. We made our way through the crowds of Korean hipsters, all toting beers, neon and designer handbags. People stopped us sporadically, to ogle, to take photos, to scream, "Yeah America!" We stumbled along the streets amid a blur of bright lights to an old, unassuming office building. The lobby was white and barren and in ill repair. A handful of drunk girls leaned against the wall adjacent to the elevator, giggling and slurring. Korean slurring sounds infinitely sloppier than English. Scott pressed the up button and I looked around for some clue as to what we were doing there.

Being relatively new and high as a kite, I didn't want to ask any stupid questions. Perhaps someone had mentioned needing to stop by an office and I had just missed it? Was I hallucinating? Had I drunk too much of that strange man from the park's wine? Drinking strange wine from strange men in foreign countries where people don't speak English probably isn't advisable. Perhaps this was my punishment? Is this what ruphies feel like?

The elevator doors opened and we all piled in, along with the drunk Korean girls who had spent the better part of the wait staring at me. Wait, were they staring at me? Was I just paranoid? Were they even there at all? Wait, how am I drunk and high as a kite on GHB in Korea with a bunch of complete strangers? Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into? I need to pee. Robert looked down at me, "You're going to love this so much!"

The elevator doors re-opened on the 5th floor to another sparse and barren lobby. It was completely empty, not a door nor sofa nor table or window. Nothing except a large hole, that resembled a doorway, in the wall across from us. Next to the hole was an umbrella stand full of plastic bags. Am I in the Matrix? This is Lewis Carroll's worst nightmare. Everyone walked to the hole in the wall, where Scott grabbed one of the plastic bags and started piling everyone's shoes into it. He looked at me insistently, holding the bag open. I hopped around awkwardly trying to slip off my shoes for what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably closer to fifteen seconds. Robert finally pulled them from my hand and dropped them into the bag, "Let's go monkey."

And that's when we all walked into the hole in the wall which led immediately to an old, rock spiral staircase. We walked up two or three flights of this ancient stairwell in a hole in a wall in in an ugly office building with nothing in it, lost amongst the busy and drunken streets of Seoul. And then, then we emerged into a cave. Seriously. At this point I knew it wasn't the drugs, because there was no way I nor my mind could have made this up.

The music was blaring and echoing through this large complex of caves with stalagmites and tiny fires and narrow riverbeds. In the center of it all a giant mosquito net hung from the highest point, full of people dancing in the ice blue light. We passed the bar and found an empty cavern full of pillows, where we tossed our plastic bag of shoes. And that's when details get blurry. I remember ordering two Hites at the bar, "Cum saw hominy duh Hite" I stumbled over my over-thought words while holding up 2 fingers. The girl behind the bar giggled, and I giggled back unsure of why I was giggling but feeling it was probably the appropriate response. The I handed her $100 instead of $10. Robert smiled, said something in Korean, then handed my money back to me.

I remember the really sweet but stupid girl from Maryland, who I convinced I was a beaver trainer at the zoo.

I remember seeing the two girls who were on cycle 7 of America's Next Top Model. "Monique, theyerr on Ant-M."


"Sorry, I'm so fucked up right now and I have to poop so bad."

"Me too."

I then took a moment to try to repeat myself. I had to concentrate hard, "They. Were on. America's. Next. Model. Top. Top Model. America's Top Model."

I don't remember who, but someone chimed in with agreement. Then Monique and I walked over to say hello. That conversation was a total wreck, but somehow resulted with me making out with one of them. Incidentally, two years later in a bar in San Francisco, I would run into the other one. I happened to be drunk at the time and just ran over to here screaming, "I made out with your friend in a cave in Korea!"

I remember peeing in a waterfall and then talking about how amazing it was to pee in a waterfall in a bar and how all bathrooms should have waterfalls to pee in.

I remember dancing in the mosquito net.

I remember being told that Koreans don't practice public displays of affection, so I should stop making out with that America's Next Top Model girl.

And everything else is a blank tape. Until morning, when it was horribly bright, disgustingly hot and all I wanted to do was vomit and then die. I downed a banana milkshake, some shitty coffee and a piece of stale toast before we made our way to Seoul Tower for some traditional American tourism. Did I mention that I wanted to die? I really wanted to die.

We got off the subway and took a taxi up a long and winding road. It was so long and so winding. So many turns. So much turning. For so long. My body and stomach swayed with each turn. Monique stared out the window while Robert giggled at my pain. We got out at the base of the tower, where we waited in an incredibly long line that wrapped around the tower. And this is precisely where I threw up on one of Korea's most famous national monuments, in front of hundreds of people.

We flew to Bangkok the next day.

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