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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jimgilbang

Korea is always filled with cultural experiences. After all the MudFest fun, my body felt quite rough. To soothe my aching muscles I decided to brave a Korean bath house and sauna I'd heard so much about. I was always very nervous and hesitant to go, mostly because of my modest, Western upbringing. What I really mean is I didn't want to walk around naked in front of a bunch of Koreans. The results were quite surprising.

I went with Su Jung for our weekly Tuesday outing. Korean bath houses are everywhere and there's a famous one quite close to my house, but luckily we went to one that was further. I probably would have been mortified if I'd run into one of my students with their mom...


We pull up to this building that sits on a cliff overlooking the East Sea. Beautiful. We go in and pay and get two towels and an "outfit." First we put our outside shoes in a little locker then walked up to the women's floor. We strip into our birthday suits and walk around for a while waiting to get our little hand scrubbers. There's nothing like walking around naked with a bunch of ajummas. Surprisingly I wasn't judged. My biggest fear was that I'd be gawked at because let's be honest, I don't exactly have an Asian appearance...

My scrubber is pink.

Scrubbers in hand, we journey into the bath area and wash off first. Then we make our way to the tubs.

This is a picture I found on Google but it closely resembles the one I was in, minus the men of course.

There were like five pools of water with different minerals and temperatures. The temperatures ranged from 60 degrees to about 100 degrees. So we just chilled in the water for a while, hopping pools when the water was too hot or cold. Then it was time to shower. Next, the sauna.

We put on our little outfit we were given and go to the co-ed sauna floor. There were five saunas with different minerals and temperatures again. My favorite room was the "Mud ceiling" one which was set at 130 degrees. It was nice and relaxing. I showed Su Jung some of my hot yoga moves but she wasn't having it. No hot yoga for her. 

Tubs once more and another shower and we were ready to leave. Going to a bath house/sauna is a regular thing for a lot of Koreans and I can definitely see why! It was such a relaxing, serene experience. 

3 comments:

  1. Try the 문덕온천 (Mundeok Ohncheon), they have an ice room. Very cool! Of course, I think that's in your neck of the woods, so you may well run into students there.

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  3. I'm ashamed to say I never did make it to a jjimjilbang in all of my time in Korea. I was afraid to unleash the thunder and forever scar unfortunate Korean men with it >_>

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