Like most Asian cities, Seoul consists of many modern skyscrapers. It is fascinating and impressive when you are lucky enough to check into a hotel that is housed in one of these glass palaces, where the room numbers have five digits and the first rooms can only be found from the 83th floor, and then discover that there are 50 more floors above with the most luxurious accommodation options. However, the individual floors can only be reached by elevator if you have the appropriate electronic authorization, which you usually only get for the level on which the room is located and also only for the period of your stay.
So it gets a bit complicated when you want to visit fellow travellers. When I tried this one time and explored alternative options to the elevators to get around the building and went to the staircases or emergency exits, I quickly realized that this was not one of my best ideas.
Not that the escape routes were blocked or even locked by any obstacles, the safety regulations are far too strict and are also monitored far too carefully. No operator of these high-rise buildings would allow himself to violate it. On the contrary, the escape routes are well signposted and easy to reach. And once you get to the staircase, there’s only one way down and out. You can’t go back. Neither the floor you just came from, nor any other floor.
For the security reasons mentioned above, I had no choice but to climb down the stairs to the ground floor. In the end I was glad that I was only in the 112th floor and not in the penthouse in the 187th. So it took me a while to reach the reception of the hotel again. That day I decided not to visit the gym on the 145th floor and as far as I can remember I also cancelled all other appointments because, after the experience, I was no longer the fittest on my feet.
Back in my room I at least wanted to enjoy the breathtaking view from my window. While trying to find the control unit needed to control the electronically controlled curtain in order to push it aside, I discovered an eggshell-coloured plastic box with a schematic representation shown on it, which in conjunction with the carabiner in the wall showed another way to leave the building in an emergency situation.
After my experience with the staircase I was not really eager to get to know this possibility. The Koreans all seem to have taken a basic course in acrobatics, otherwise there is no other way to explain to me how to abseil down from the 112 floor with a wire rope in order to be able to leave the building safely. And if you travel with small children, they must be carried in their child carriers. Of course, older children are allowed to abseil on their own.