We had some time to grab lunch in Ildong before our ride was scheduled to get us from the bus station. Let me tell something about Ildong – you’re half-fucked if you don’t at least know how to read Korean, and it’s a ghost town on Sundays.
Luckily, I can read Korean.
Unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday, and finding an open restaurant was not easy. We eventually settled on a Korean-Chinese restaurant, which was pretty goddamn fantastic.
These noodles were SO GOOD. I was like, “Oh wow, I am not going to be able to eat this whole thing” as I skillfully sucked down every last noodle on that plate.
The young waiter was so friendly and didn’t get flustered with us even with the language barrier, and this was the first time I was brave enough to push the button on our table to summon him! (This is extremely common in restaurants in Korea, which is awesome because it means that the waitstaff will only come to you when you need something and they’re not constantly hovering and interrupting your conversations like the waitress did the entire time we were with Jason last weekend at George’s in Cleveland!)
We were all happy with our respective lunches (I think Chooch had the classic mapo tofu and was super Yeah Boi about it). Everyone there was so nice and thanked us for eating there, it made me feel so good!
Afterward, we walked around for a bit looking for a grocery store so we could take food to the pension with us. As I said before, nearly everything was closed in that town, and that sucked. We passed this same old man several times as we checked the backstreets for options, and finally he asked us if he could help. We basically communicated through Google translate and he was so happy to point us toward a convenience store across the street, which isn’t exactly what we wanted, but honestly Asian convenience stores are SO GOOD that you can get real quality stuff there.
Plus, he stood on the sidewalk and watched us to make sure we crossed the street and went to the right place, what a sweet, sweet man!
This makes me realize that I need to brush up on my direction-giving skills so I can actually help people too whenever I’m sought out for assistance downtown.
Anyway, our ride arrived around 3pm (oh, don’t worry – Chooch had JUST ENOUGH TIME to blow money in a claw machine arcade in the meantime). It wasn’t G-Dragon’s dad as I had hoped but another older man who actually kind of reminded me of a Korean Glenn?!
“GD’s music for going to GD’s pension,” he said, pushing play on the car stereo and straight-up blasting G-Dragon’s last solo album, Kwon Jiyong. It was SURREAL, GD’s “Bullshit” blaring, our driver laying on the horn and swerving past cars like this was the Autobahn and not some quiet Korean country road.
I was in the passenger seat, white-knuckling my seat belt and making up prayers in my head. It, um, really added to the experience. We found out later that it was GD’s uncle!!! The surreality just kept surging!
It was only about a 5 minute drive, and when the pension finally came into few from across the lake, my mind was BLOWN. I couldn’t believe that this was really real! It was really real for real for real!
Let me back up in case anyone is like, “the fuck is a G-Dragon’s pension?” Pensions in Korea are basically rental properties, like beach houses or whatever. Several years ago GD bought property along a beautiful lake in Pocheon, which is about an hour outside of Seoul. All of the rooms are themed after his solo songs and BIGBANG songs, and he gave the property to his parents to run. Staying there is a huge must-do for any BIGBANG fan.
I wanted to do this on our first trip to Korea, but he FAQs say that no guests under 19 are allowed. So thanks Chooch. But then when I was telling my friend Jiyong about this a few months ago, she took it upon herself to contact the pension and was told that a family with a thirteen year old was perfectly fine, so we happily made reservations!
Since it was my birthday (Henry was SO SICK of hearing this, lol) I decided to splurge and get the VIP room, which was two floors and came with a private mini-pool on the deck. VIP is the name of the BIGBANG fan group, in case you didn’t know.
I’m here to teach.
Call me Prof. ERK.
The best room you can get is the Crayon room which is rumored to be a room that GD has used to host his friends in the past so that was tempting but also kind of out of my price range. The VIP room is the second best so I was happy with it!
Anyway, I posted a bit while we were there, so I will now just run through some photos of the property that I took on the first day.
The VIP room was at the top of those steps and to the left. GD’s uncle took us up there and gave us a tour of the facilities.
The sitting area.
I read a review online that said there were too many pictures of G-Dragon around the property and only fans would like that. Well, I mean, that is the main draw of this place, so…
However, the other guests (with the exception of this one lady who was staying alone in the room next to ours and who I accidentally found on Instagram while I was scrolling through the pension’s geotag and discovered that she’s some Chinese mega-VIP who travels everywhere for BIGBANG concerts, exhibitions, fan meetings, etc and has like 50,000 followers on Instagram wth) all seemed like “regular” Korean people who were there for a weekend get-away, including an extended family with a baby, and several couples. I mean, it really is a nice area so I could see why people would go there even if they were GD super-fans. There are other pensions around too, like one right down the street from ours that had a waterfall effect on each porch so that was pretty cool, too.
This was on a shelf in our room.
I loved that the pension had such a modern, industrial feel to it. It just felt like GD’s style all around.
This was a little garden area behind our room.
Henry is such a great poser. I don’t know what these red figures are but they were cool and I want some in my front yard too.
Seriously, this place. I’m glad we planned this over-nighter at the end of the trip because the slowed-down pace was really needed. Our whole vacation so go-go-go that it was nice to be forced to relax and not have anything to do but take some strolls around the lake, read our books, listen to the Korean bugs at night, maybe get drunk on some soju.
Chooch didn’t want to go for a walk with us because I made him walk 4000 miles every day and besides, so he hung back and read a book. I was acutely aware of the fact that we could run into some crazy Korean-style wildlife out there and that was a bit scary. Did you know that there are wild boars in South Korea and they can KILL YOU?! Also, some super fucking alienesque hornets. I like nature until I start pondering the things that I might find in nature. Then I just want to go back to a city, any city.
But also, I kept imagining that maybe this was somewhere GD has taken a walk and that made me so excited! That I could be walking in his footsteps! I AM SO PATHETIC!
GD’s dog, Gaho!
I loved this painting of G-Dragon. <3
This is the bathroom on the main floor. I was creeped out that you could see through the door so I only used the one upstairs.
Our bedroom. STRIPES AND POLKA DOTS!
It was like a million degrees so we didn’t partake in the hot tub, but I bet this is amazing on a chilly night!
Of course I had to send a picture of GD’s loo to my friend Alyson, who is known to enjoy a good loo photo every now and then. I’ll never forget way back when I was looking at the place where my baby shower was going to be held. The bathroom was pretty creepy and I begged Henry to let me text Alyson a picture of it and this is where you need to know that it was the year 2006 and it WAS EXPENSIVE (according to Henry) to text, let alone SEND PHOTOS. Oh, the data! But he understood that this was important and said it was fine, lol.
I mean, I would have done it anyway.
I had a really peaceful sleep. I never thought I was a lake person, but maybe I’m a lake person!?
I’ll be back to write about the next morning, which includes one of the greatest moments on the whole entire trip.