I’ve been in South Korea for almost a week now.
Every day, I’ve been tramping to and from our hotel to the Phoenix Park resort where the Olympic snowboarding events are being held – and where we’re making our brief documentary on the 20-year history of Olympic snowboarding. (To be shown before the closing ceremony.)
I’ve also been taking advantage of the hotel’s gym, knocking off some kilometers on the treadmill – and working up a sweat.
Between my gym clothes and the various layers I wear each day to insulate myself from the chilly winter weather in the snow-covered mountains of PyeongChang, it’s time to do my laundry. Two bags full.
But nothing is easy for this innocent abroad.
And, as you’ll see below, the simple task of washing my clothes turned out to be an adventure…
To do your laundry, you must first FIND the laundry room. My journey of discovery begins in the 6th floor lobby of The White Hotel. Outside, there’s a haze obscuring the mountains. The location of the laundry room will prove no less obscure.
The sign next to the elevator indicates several points of interest. The laundry room is not among them. In retrospect, that may only seem to be the case because I can’t read Korean.
Emerging from the elevator on the lobby level, I arrive first at this room. But it’s clearly not the laundry. It’s the hotel gift shop. It’s very pretty — but I’ve never seen anyone in it: not a customer or even a clerk. Many very artsy objects are displayed. The whole setup is a mystery to me. So is the location of the laundry room.
Past the restaurant and banquet rooms — at the end of the hallway — is another elevator. Convinced the laundry room is not on the lobby level, I descend into the basement.
I rode the elevator with this Korean man. He was bringing kegs of beer to the lobby beer garden. Alas, it was his first time at The White Hotel — so he couldn’t help me find the laundry room.
As the beer vendor exited to the parking lot, I turned my head to the right — and there it was!
It looks simple enough. A washer and a dryer, clearly labeled, complete with instructions.
This may look like a lot of money — but it will take most of it to get my one load of laundry done. The washer is 5,000 South Korean won — and so is the dryer. 5,000 won is about $4.61 in U.S. currency. Detergent cost 500 won — or about 46 cents. Same for a sheet of fabric softener.
Now, the real trouble begins. After I insert my 500 won coin, I discover that the vending machine is OUT of detergent. The bottom row has laundry bags. The next row up has fabric softener. But the two top rows dedicated to detergent are empty. Completely empty.
I take the elevator back up to the lobby level and ask these ladies for help. The girls on the right are sweet and want to help — but they have no clue what I’m talking about. Luckily, the older lady on the left (obviously a manager) knows just who to call. Interestingly, when she makes the call, I notice that, as she spoke, the Korean word for “detergent” appeared to “detergent”.
In went my 5,000 won…
Success at last!
After getting my laundry done, I walked down — as I do every day — to The Phoenix Park Hotel: our entrance to the extreme sports Olympic venue.
As I enter the hotel lobby, bundled against the cold, I ask myself, “How soon will these clothes need to be washed?” and “Do I really need to wear so many layers?”