We landed at LAX slightly behind schedule, but all was fine and dandy. We hopped on the G shuttle and started our journey on the LA Metro. After several transfers, crazy muttering hobos (after Berkeley I feel weird if my life is hobo-free for too long), and a fake blind beggar lady who magically avoided both Farrah and I’s suitcases sticking out in the aisle, we made it to Union Station. Since we planned to take the Low Fare Bus back up to Northern California, we opted to look for a motel to crash around Chinatown.
It was just our luck to realize that Hard Fest was going on right on the outskirts of Chinatown. With a combination of that and it being Friday night, finding accommodations turned into a daunting task. Finally, Yelp led us to a slightly seedy and overly ‘Oriental’-looking Royal Pagoda Motel. Since virtually all of Chinatown was booked by Hard Fest-goers, rooms were going for ridiculous rates like $300. The stoic Cantonese man behind the counter kept picking up calls, barking out ‘ALL FULL’, and hanging up. We asked for a room, and I took out my Hong Kong Identity Card. He took a look and asked ‘Heung gong yen?’ (You are from Hong Kong?). Erm, not quite…but sure :). I suppose we got the ‘Hong Kong price’ as we paid $125 for decent-sized room with a queen bed. My inner Asian bargain-hunter was not pleased, but oh wells.
Our second fail of the day was dinner. Since we were car-less, we walked or Metro-ed everywhere. We walked .5 miles through Chinatown to J&K Restaurant with growling stomachs. We sat down, gawked at crazy Olympic divers on TV, and ordered a table full of promising Chinese dishes like Peking duck and chow mien. Slowly, the plates started filling up the table. Extremely rapidly, we lost our appetite. Food was oily and subpar, and frankly extremely unappetizing. This did not match with the 4 star Yelp rating and rave reviews, so we scratched our heads, munched on our fortune cookies and left. 10 feet later I look up and see the sign…for the real J&K Restaurant. FAIL….we went to the wrong restaurant!!! Farrah was amazed by my intelligence.
We walked .6 miles over highways to reach the Civic Center, and after a few technical/navigational difficulties, finally made it over to Wii Spa, a popular 24 hour authentic Korean Spa. When I say authentic, I mean authentic. I felt like I was transported back to that Korean spa in Jejudo. After steaming away in the warm spa in our birthday suits, we were summoned by two ajunmas clad in see-through black bra-and-panty sets. For the next 35 minutes, I was a (comfortable) piece of meat on a table getting handled by exfoliating loofah-welding arms of steel. From intermittent splashes of hot water all over me, vigorous scrubbing of every single inch of my body, and occasional Korean chatter amongst the ajunma, I’m pretty sure I got the ultimate authentic Korean experience. My lady seemed to be extremely amused with my weird shaped sunburns (thanks to the unique cut of my swimsuits) and inability to follow her Korean instructions. She patted my head and laughed some more, so I laughed awkwardly too. Ha ha.
The co-ed relaxation facilities on the 3rd floor were superb. Farrah and I tried out a few of their Sauna rooms – Ice, Salt, Clay, etc. After some shaved ice and more Olympics, we decided to nap on the heated floor mats.
Some 5, 6 hours later, we woke up. Oops. We changed, called a ghetto Korean ‘taxi’, and returned to our Royal Pagoda Inn. Being a good Asian, I enjoyed the best 4 hours of sleep that 125 USD could buy. It was pretty epic. I woke up completely refreshed, packed, and half an hour later Farrah and I were on the bus back up to Northern California.
SoCal and Cabo, its been amazing. Truly unforgettable trip!