Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jimjilbong (Korean Bath House)

First: A hearty THANK YOU to the Brehms! They sent us a picture frame for our book shelf! Thank you so much. It got here a few weeks ago and I have been waiting until I got a picture to put in it to give a shout out to you on the blog. I still don't have a picture for it yet (I will soon) but didn't want you to think it had gotten lost and was now floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean with Wilson.
Doesn't it look nice?! Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

We finally did the most cultural thing we have done here since arriving in Korea. We went to a jimjilbong. The jimjilbong is a bath house, but not the seedy places you're thinking of (stop being gross). This is as it was meant to be: a place to take a bath. We took the opportunity to go on date night (thanks to the Cabaluna's for the babysitting swap). First we got dinner. Remember that night we ended up at the Bennigan's at the Coex mall and we ended up there because the restaurant that had been recommended was no longer in Sunae? Well we found that restaurant in it's new location!

Daily King Diner
 There were so many things to choose from, but we couldn't resist breakfast for dinner. Just like Ihop!
Well, almost-those sausage links are more like hot dogs, but still everything else was great. Pricey though.
After dinner we walked to the Jimjilbong. We got a recommendation of which jimjilbong to go to and how to's from KIS staff who have lived here a while. The jimjilbong that was recommended is in the same building as the Little Prince Kid's Cafe!

You know that I like a lot of pictures in my blog post, but this is a bath house. No pictures here. I will tell you about it and, as a consolation, include a short video of rice cakes being made at the end.

You walk in and check in at the desk. We wanted both the bath and the sauna. Just the bath is $7, both is $9-but it turns out that is the weekend rate. We got both for $7 each. They gave us 2 tiny towels each and size XL pjs, we decided on a time to meet downstairs and split up. They give you a key for 2 lockers. One near the front for your shoes, and one in the locker room for everything else. It looks like a typical locker room, except it had a snack bar, a place for some sort of eye treatment and some clothes for sale too. Back through some glass doors was the bath part. There were 3 big hot tub-like pools in the middle of the room. There were lots of showers to the left and saunas to the right. I spent some time relaxing then put on my XL pjs (just a little snug) and went downstairs to meet Jim. The downstairs part was intersting.

In the center of the downstairs there's a snack bar in the middle and a large hallway that goes in a circle around. Hallway might not be the right word, but think like a terminal in an airport or mall or something. In this hallway were the large log things and mats. There were 2 tvs. On one side, the TV was showing a popular Korean drama (followed by Korean Idol) and on the opposite side (around the corner), the tv was showing the baseball game. Jim reported that the Korean drama was also playing in the men's locker room and about 10 men were riveted, watching it.

From the hallway there were many different rooms with the temperature of that room posted outside the door, so you knew what you were getting yourself into. There was a big room with small clay huts in it. You could go in a hut and lay down or just hang out on a bench outside of the huts and look out the windows overlooking Sunae. There was a couple in there just talking quietly, another person in a hut alone checking something on her phone. Doesn't that sound so nice? Just a quiet, calm place to hang out? Some people go to these places with their friends, but I can tell you right now that my friends and I are far to loud for that. And by friends I mean any of my friends because I'm the loud one.

Another room we went to is what I like to call "the rock room" there were little rocks covering the walls and ceiling and a rock floor-think "ball pit" and replace balls with smooth rocks about the size of a quarter. It felt so good to lay on that floor. Jim and I started lifting this week (Biggest Loser competition is ON) and my back was jacked, lucky for me next to some of the sauna rooms are massage places. So I paid $50 for an hour long "Korean" massage.

I had a coworked get a "Korean" massage a few weeks ago and she told me about it, thank goodness, because I had an idea of what was coming. This is a seriously deep tissue massage-I'm sore from it today. At one point this guy was fully on top of me massaging me with his elbows and knees. In additon to the back and legs, shoulder, whatever, the Korean massage includes the stomach, liver-organs basically, and my throat. Ouch. I didn't mind the deep tissue part-it was downright painful at times, but my back was hurting so much that it felt great. Next time, I'll go for a Korean massage, but request that the front torso and throat be skipped.

We went home shortly after that, but I could have stayed for a lot longer-and you can if you don't have a babysitter to get home to. You can stay as long as you want. You can sleep there if you want. I bet on those really cold Korean winter days it's going to feel even better to go back there.

As promised! A video of a street vendor making rice cakes on the spot.

Bonus picture: we passed this restaurant on the way home and I liked the name (Ho Lee Chow)

1 comment:

  1. When you try out their bathhouses, you won’t be disappointed because their equipment and facilities are well-maintained. Not to mention that they have a hospitable staff who is always there to assist you. Their food is also served in a traditional manner, which I think is delightful. I would always go back here just to sit back, relax and enjoy.