Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Asia Blog # 10

January 27, 2016

A "small snack"  and a flat bed for a one hour flight to Seoul

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There are two basic ways for travelers to get to Seoul from the Incheon airport. With luck, the travel time can be 60 to 90 minutes. Taxis are expensive. As an alternative, the airport provides excellent "limousine bus service" at a lower cost.

There was a quite surprise waiting for us when we reached our hotel (Intercontinental COEX). An "army" of hotel staff ran out from the hotel, greeted us (along with the other passengers) with bows. Then, our luggage was grabbed out of our hands, we were quickly ushered to reception, our reservation was confirmed, our credit card for was run for possible incidentals and then rapidly and smoothly we were ushered to our upgraded room. The entire process had to be a maximum of five minutes!

We have never experience (ever and even at the Four Seasons) this type of service.

After we got settled and wolfed down some food (the lounge would be closing in 15 minutes), we went downstairs to the lobby area and struck up a nice conversation with the night manager. We were curious about the wonderful and unexpected service. 

The manager explained to us that Korean culture calls for this type of immediacy. It is called "Palli-Palli." The manager then indicated to us that he was surprised about our wanting to talk to him and that we ended up having a pleasant conversation. He went on to say that most of the guests are rude to the hotel staff. Interesting!

Guess what? According to Korean culture, "tipping" is not allowed!

Most hotel rooms are easy to figure out. Not our room. As soon as we would walk into our room, the toilet would automatically flush. Perhaps, the design is such that most guests will want to use the bathroom as soon as they enter the room and that they want to be able to use a recently cleaned toilet bowl?!?!

However, as good as the toilet flushes when we entered the room, it took us some time to try to find the toilet handle.

The toilet seat did automatically and quickly heated up when sitting down. That was a nicety! However, where's the flush handle? It turned out that the flush handle was hidden underneath and behind this button device.

As in many modern hotel rooms, there is a master control device that provides lighting and curtain adjustments from the bed. However, Jerry cold not figure out how to turn off the bedside lights and a standing lamp so he simply unplugged them.

Too many buttons!

Worst of all was when Jerry was finished talking a shower. He could not figure out how to turn off the water. It was a little embarrassing when we had to call down to the front desk and ask for help. An engineer came up and showed us what to do. Jerry and I (along with the engineer) had a good laugh.

Then, we had technical issues with our devices. A young man from the bell desk came up to our room and together we figured  out how to solve the problem.

With the kindness that we expressed to the hotel staff, from that moment on and throughout our stay, the hotel staff gave us very nice bows, broad smiles and welcoming handshakes.

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While our east coast was being hampered by bad weather, so was the eastern and central part of north Asia. Fortunately (and thanks to the prevailing winds), the worst part of our storms skirted the area.


                      Building outside our room

Zero visibility from our room

When the snowing began to slow down, there was a pretty sight below

Buddhist Temple: Looking out from our room

Palli-Palli: When the snow storm stopped, the hotel staff (regardless of position) all rushed out to sweep away the snow so that no one would slip.

More later...

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