Monday, November 11, 2013


In the World's Largest Department Store just down the road, there is an incredible place called Spa Land. It's basically just what it sounds like.

In Asia there are numerous public baths. You go in, pay a few bucks, get a key, strip down and enjoy all the different jacuzzis in all your naked glory. It may sound strange to a westerner, but it's perfectly normal to the locals and it's even a past time enjoyed by families who come together. There are old ladies and mothers and teenagers and little girls running all about the place. These places are squeaky clean, beyond relaxing and surprisingly cheap. I went all the time in Japan (where they are called onsens) but I've only been once here in Korea (where they are called jimjilbangs). Our friend's Steph and Andre are leaving in a few weeks so what better way to spend some quality time with a friend than bathing together?

We paid our $14 and walked through the fancy corridors to the men/women's entrance and Al and Andre went one way and Steph and I went the other. They give you an outfit that resembles scrubs to wear in the co-ed areas, so we put that on first and went up to the restaurant to meet the boys and eat. Steph and I made an appointment for a body scrub so after dinner we went back down to the baths area, got naked, and the lady called us in.

There are three Korean women who were working this body scrub/massage area. Their "uniform" was, no joke, a black bra and panties set. I walk into a room that looked like nothing more than a large utility closet, complete with rolling metal shelves and buckets. She instructed I lay down on a pink plastic table and she went to work. She took one of those buckets I saw and doused me in hot water, put some oily stuff on what looked like yellow oven mitts and started scrubbing. She scrubbed every single inch of my body until I was literally laying there in mounds of my own zombie-colored dead skin. It was vile. I was first on my back while she buffed my stomach and boobs and all other parts facing up. She then had me turn on my side where she indicated I spread eagle myself while she got the insides of my legs. I finally got on my stomach so she could do all the back parts, including my buttcrack. I had to turn over once more while she got parts she may have missed, such as my bellybutton and armpits and finally it was over. She threw some more hot water all over to rid me of all the loose dead skin that was now sticking everywhere, rubbed me with some more oil and it was over. After all was said and done, I looked like I had an intense sunburn. I was SO red! Here 24 hours later my skin still feels like a baby, but my hands are having a hard time holding moisture for some reason. Perhaps scrubbing them to death did something? Either way I feel like I can't keep enough lotion on them.

We next went to the outside baths. It has many hot, shallow rock pools and it has a pretty wooden roof while the upper part of the walls are open to the outside. We sat in the foot and a half of hot water and talked while I felt like there needed to be koi fish swimming around me because of the surroundings. Now, perhaps it's my generation, but I don't see how all these women my age can have such hairy hoohas. I get it's more of a western thing, really, but some of these I saw are just out of control. And whoever thinks that Asians have small boobs, it's really not the case. There were lots of old ladies with them hanging past their belly buttons just like your own grandma's.

After we were done with the rock pools, we put back on our scrubs/taekwondo outfits, met the boys and decided to check out all the "rooms". It's somewhat like a hallway of saunas, each one with different healing or relaxation properties and different temperatures. Some scorching hot, some dry and comfortable, some humid, some frigid, some with special hot stones, some shaped like pyramids...take your pick. We sampled a few and then went to the top floor where there are recliners with TVs attached where you can relax or read magazines. I watched a bit of the Nat Geo channel and then Al and I called it a night. I went back to the women's part, got back in one of the tubs one last time and then regretfully put my jeans and coat back on.

Why have I not yet been to Spa Land in two years? There are jimjilbangs everywhere but nothing like this place. I will be back!

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