Great Knees and Low Matresses

How Low can you go?

In South Korea – the answer might amaze you. Korean’s have the best knees in the world, at least as far as we can tell. They sit on the floor to eat (which totally sets my knees to flame). Chairs are low to the ground – even sofa’s are inches above the surface. And I haven’t even mentioned the beds yet.

Right now I’m sitting in our guest house kitchen – and in the living area, our host – Lex – is watching TV. He is lying on the floor – propped up on what looks like a beach chair – and the TV is set about my waist height. Low, low, low! There are 5 more ‘chairs’ in the space – all basically flat to the floor. The same thing was true at the Namu – the chairs in the living space were basically on the floor – while the chairs in the dining area were standard western height. Very interesting..

And Jill – who claimed the lower bunk – is basically on the floor – probably at most 3 inches above it. While my bunk – the top bunk – sits at my shoulder level. Easy to make, I’ll tell you.

We’ve eaten out every night so far – and 2 of the 4 restaurants have made us sit on the floor – tonight it was Korean BBQ with pork – and we sat on the floor at low tables that held the grill (Food was yummy) – and the first night in Korea we ate at a tradition soup restaurant – again sitting on the floor. We keep this up and my knees are going to be ‘bump’ ready come January.

So – I figure – to get up from the ground all the time – the Koreans must simply have the best knees in the world.

A tale of 2 Hostels – the Namu and the Agit – Seoul, South Korea

We had originally thought to spend just 4 nights in Seoul before moving on – but our age and ability to recover from a long flight has definitely taken its toll – and we need more time here to see things properly.

So – we ended up wanting to spend 4 more nights in Seoul (it’s a fab city) – and that meant a change in sleeping locations. We had to move from the Namu in the Hongdae district to the Agit – near the Yaksu metro stop. So here-in lies the tale of 2 hostels.

The Namu is highly regarded in the hostel world – it is part of the Lee & Co ‘chain’ – and while small – just 4 rooms – it is warm, friendly, well built and extremely well located. The Hongdae district is home to a major university, and most of the student life of Seoul. It buzzes with action from 1:00 pm until late in the evening. Later than we ever made it up for sure. The Namu serves a wonderful breakfast of cereal, cakes, toast, eggs if you want, coffee (brewed – not instant) – jam, fruit – you name it – they offer it. And they prepare it for you – no fuss, no muss. It’s great.

Good things: There is a washing machine – no dryer – and people are very friendly. As reported earlier – I loved the public shared lounge area, with its tiny outdoor sitting space. We met some great fellow travellers – took fun pictures – had a great time.

Down sides – we had to share a bathroom – why do some people manage to splash water everywhere? – I really hate sharing my bathroom. Plus the room got cold at night. I ended up sleeping with socks, long-sleeve shirt, and my fuzzy travel blanket. Good news – it was an excuse to get cute socks.

But we had to leave. So we said good-bye to Sunny and Stella – our hosts – and headed out to the Agit. It is a lot less expensive for starters. Almost 1/2 the price. And we would have our own bathroom. Bad news – only room available had bunk beds. I’m getting the upper bunk – hope I can climb in – and get out without falling!

The beginning wasn’t great. We got lost. We exited at the right metro stop – but couldn’t locate ourselves – or the hostel on the map. And the killer – to exit the metro we climbed up 5 flights of stairs – with our suitcases. We were wiped. But – the kindness of strangers came to our rescue – again. A wonderful young man on a motor cycle figured out how to call the Agit – and Lex – the surprising tall and skinny host told him to tell us to stay put. He’d come and find us.

And find us he did. Plus he showed us where the elevator was to the metro – no more climbing 5 flights.

The Agit at first glance isn’t nearly as fancy as the Namu – the public space is small – and there is someone sleeping in the shared living room. I haven’t figured out who she is, but she does watch a lot of TV and Movies. And the kitchen arrangement is quite different. There is a long shared table, and Lex just opened doors and fridge explaining that everything is up for grabs. Just take what you want. He even had us fix a lunch to go. Ham and cheese sandwiches, Korean style – which means with pickles and mustard.

I had my concerns – but a little exploring showed me a fantastic outdoor space on the upper floor – tables and chairs so we can enjoy a dinner al fresco. And while our room is tiny – the advantage of having a private bathroom is huge. Plus the washing machine sits alongside a dryer! It’s clothes washing time tonight.

We slept in the Agit last night – and while it is now Sunday – still it was amazingly quiet – we slept in until 9:00. Jill admits that she hasn’t slept in that long – in well – since the last time we travelled together.

Our fellow travellers are a very quiet bunch – mostly Asians with one french gal – so that explains the sleeping in – even though our room is off the kitchen. No noisy folks to wake us up early.

And we may well be getting used to the hard beds! (Personal note – didn’t fall out of top bunk either)

So – how ends the tale of 2 hostels – both work. The location of the Namu is better, the rooms decidedly ‘fancier’, the private bathroom at the Agit trumps the nicer breakfast at the Namu, and I am really looking forward to enjoying tea on the outdoor balcony at the Agit.

Our decision – both work. So pick and enjoy.