Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jimjilbang - The Naked Truth

For my Birthday... Ashley, Caitlin & Kaisa brought me to the Korean Jimjilbang which is the naked hot-tub & sauna spa. A tad arkward at first, it ended up being a great way to nurse my Sunday hang-over. Once you excepted the nakedness, it was perfect, so relaxing and refreshing.

The Jimjilbang is such a huge cultural thing in Korea. Mothers, Daughters, Aunts, Grandmas, old, young and ladies of all sizes partake in this spa. It all begins where you pay approx. 5,000 Won ($4/3Euro), you are given your locker key, two towels and off you go, into the unknown.

You head into the locker room where there are little concession stands, you can buy all sorts of body scrubbers, snacks and different random toiletries. The when you reach your locker, you strip down, you may as well forget trying to cover yourself up, as the towels you are given are tiny.

Then you take your toiletries and head for the shower area. You must scrub before you enter any sauna or hot-tub. Korean ladies of all sizes are hanging out, scrubbing each other, scrubbing their children and socialising, all naked, all very comfortable in their surroundings. If you were on your own, no doubt they'd offer to scrub your back for you. They gave us the odd glance, no more than when I'm walking down the streets in Korea. I felt like they gave us less notice in the Jimjilbang which was a relief, we were just more naked bodies hanging out. If took a little while to get used to the idea.

As soon as your clean, your ready for the baths. You may choose from several different baths of different temperatures and types. There is a green tea bath and I've heard of Jade baths and charcoal baths. Some are freezing cold, some are scalding hot, some have power jets and others have fountains. You can also visit the sauna and steam rooms where the ladies all sit on the hot floors chatting to each other. You can also order a large bowl of ice coffee to share with your group. Perfect!

If you want a massage, mud mask, full body scrub or hot stone treatment, you can pay extra Won for this. The ladies giving the massages in the back look scary. They put you on a bed, straddle you and then pummel every part of your body. I did not partake in such torture, although I was tempted.

You can spent hours here and in most Jimjilbangs there is a room with a heated floor that provides blankets and sleeping pads where you can spent the night for no extra charge. Amazing!

I don't have pictures for obvious reasons... and yes, where there is a ladies Jimjilbang, there is always a guys equivalent next door.


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