So, what am I talking about! A jimjilbang is were Koreans let everything (and I mean everything) loose and relax. How exactly do they do this? Well, they get naked and relax in steaming hot baths of course!
Yip...now you know why I was so scared! Being naked in a room full of strangers sounds like a nightmare but in reality it was empowering and relaxing!
The most difficult thing about the whole experience was actually mustering up enough courage to drop my pants and just get on with it. Once everything was off and I was standing in the locker room in all my glory, I realised that no-one even blinked an eye! Relief set in.....phew!
Lauren (who was just as nervous as me) and I went to Dragon Hill which is a famous Jimjilbang in Korea and is apparently one of the best in Seoul. Go big or go home! We went big.
So, let me set the scene for you!
We arrive, we are spotted as being outsiders (surprise surprise) so one of the admin ladies takes it upon herself to help us. She explains how a Jimjilbang works and where all the good stuff is (I will get to that later). She also tells us several times that we are allowed on the third and second floor. We must not go to another floor (unless we want a whole bunch of penis in our face....no thanks!).
So we take our shoes off and head to the correct floor. We walk into a very large dressing room with naked women everywhere. Heart is pounding. Doof Doof Doof. Pants come off. Sigh of relief! Phew! OK, now what...well, we had to walk past the reception area with nothing but a towel. And I am not talking about a big luxurious bath towel that you can wrap your around your whole body, no no, I am talking about what would be considered a hand towel in may other parts of the world, but is a legitimate towel in Korea. So the towel is strategically draped to cover important bits and we walk past the reception and down a flight of stairs...Eeeek...penis....No I am just kidding! We were safe, only women in sight and lots and lots of showers.
So we followed suit. We gave ourselves a good scrub down and got nice and clean...then we headed to the baths. Baths are really a luxury in Korea. Most people will only get a chance to bath if they stay in a pension (a slightly fancy motel room) or are lucky enough to have one at home. So bathing is definitely a novelty. I love baths! Hmmmm, so I was now in heaven!
They had tons of big baths ranging in temperature, some as hot as 49 degrees Celcius and others as cool as 29 degrees Celcius. My best combo was warm bath, hot bath, cool bath! Hmmmm, so nice!!! My muscles were so relaxed and soft!
And that's not all! If you have a little extra money on you (which I sadly did not) you can get a scrub down, a pedicure, a facial, a massage, etc. Bliss! Let me tell you a little but more about the scrub down. Although I didn't get to get one myself , I did get to see a couple being done (everything is open). So, you lie on the bed butt naked and an ajuma (old lady) with black underwear on scrubs you down, she really scrubs you down. She gets into all your nooks and crannies and makes sure you are spotless! And she is not gentle (I liked that, I hate massages that are soft).
But wait, there's more!
We decided to go the dual floor (where men and women can go together). Noooo, we are not still naked. We have to put on clothing, which Lauren aptly compared to clothing people would have to wear in a concentration camps. Seriously not flattering, but comfy and thick. Thick? Well, yes! Because the dual floor is a whole bunch of different saunas where you can go and sweat it out. There are straight up hot saunas, there are cold rooms, and there is a crystal sauna! The saunas were cool but they were packed with people which made it a little uncomfortable, so we headed back to the baths in all their naked awesomeness.
All in all we were at the Jimjilbang for just over three hours...whooop whooop! And when we left we felt so relaxed and revived...it was unbelievable.
Other benefits to Jimjilbangs, they are cheap (often costing between 6,000 and 12,000 Won to get in), there are internet facilities, there is a food court, you can sleep there (yip, for a very reasonable price you can pull up a piece of floor and sleep there overnight...super useful if you don't have enough money to get a motel room), and they are everywhere (Saunas and Jimjilbangs are a Korean past-time).
My only regret is that it took me this long to get naked and take a bath! sniff sniff!
Tomorrow we are going snowboarding the whole day and I plan to take full advantage of the jimjilbang at the resort! Hmmmmm....it makes the deal that much sweeter.
My advice to anyone who is a little nervous...just do it....bare all...
Post by Claudia