Thursday, March 5, 2015

Keep Calm and Jjimjilbang On

It was one of those things on the Korea "Bucket List" - go to a jjimjilbang, or Korean spa. The week of my birthday seemed a fitting time to make the trip down the street to a well-known spot: the Dragon Hill Spa and Resort.

The entrance is serene and sets the tone for relaxation...which is good, since some of my friends and I were a bit apprehensive about this adventure.

Here we are, the intrepid spa group, in our "before" shot:

Inside the lobby, there were some interesting decorations:

Yup - this kind of spa:

We checked in at the registration desk...

...stowed our shoes in our shoe locker...

...and then crossed what I have dubbed the "bridge of no return".

We took a quick tour of the common areas before heading to the locker room, so I snapped these photos in the hot rock area - you lay on the stones in your PJs to relax.

There was also a bench with bottom-shaped seating areas...

It was then time to ride the elevator up to the women's locker room...this was the last photo I took (no way was I documenting the rest of this with pictures!):

At this point, we entered the locker room and BAM - nakedness, everywhere you turned. You strip down to your birthday suit, put your belongings in a locker, slap on your wrist band with your locker key, and make a feeble attempt to cover something with your small hand towel. Then it's time to rinse off at a sitting shower station (we may or may not have giggled throughout that process). Once we were squeaky clean, we were then free to enjoy the spa amenities...naked. Since I couldn't (refused) to take pictures, here is my PG artist's rendition of us leaving the locker area:    :)

We tried out the hot tubs and massage tubs (and had a good laugh at the ceiling mirror above those - why???). We even braved the hot tubs located in an outdoor courtyard - thankfully, there was a very high wall and no windows nearby. Our friend, Suzi, taught us all how to roll our towels into the perfect headwear for the occasion, so that they would stay dry while we relaxed. Again, my artistic rendition of us in the hot tub, with our Princess Leia towel wigs:

A number of us had decided if we were going to visit the spa, we were going in for the whole enchilada, which included a full body scrub and massage. We headed over to the treatment area, pushed the buzzer, and out came our ajummas in their "uniform" of black bra and panties. We laid down on our vinyl covered tables, had water thrown over us, and then they went to work with the spa equivalent of scrubbing potholders. They worked quickly and efficiently to remove several layers of dead skin...from every inch of our bodies...every. inch. 
No drawings needed...I think you can get the picture. Ha ha!

I also opted to have a massage, so my ajumma dug in with her elbows - thankfully, she did not opt to stand up on the table and walk on me, like one of my friends had happen to her. I don't think that would have ended well for either of us! She finished things up with a cucumber facial, shampoo, and scalp massage - heaven! Despite some misgivings going into the whole thing, afterwards I felt wonderful and my skin was as smooth as a baby's bottom.

If you have a few moments and want a good laugh, here's a link to a video Conan made about his visit to a Korean spa - similar to our visit, but with video cameras allowed inside - his experience obviously has more comedic interaction and drama: VIDEO

Here we are - relaxed, refreshed, and relieved!

How to get there:

Seoul Subway Line 1, Yongsan Station, Exit 1
Turn right after exiting the subway and cross the street to the spa entrance.

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