ItaewonLand: Korean Jimjilbang/ Bathhouse/ Sauna
November 22, 2011 1 Comment
To begin, I will give you the details about the Jimjilbang. Then I will write about my experience. I REALLY recommend that you try this experience first for yourself and then read about mine. What I say in my post might alter your experience and the surprises of the experience were the best parts.
Need to know details:
The Jimjilbang I visited was in Itaewon, although they have them all over South Korea.
Websites you can visit for more information:
I recommend you visit the Visiting Center at the Subway because they can show you exactly how to get there on a map but it isn’t that hard.
Take Subway to Itaewon Station (# 630) on line 6. Go out of Exit 3. Walk straight for less than 5 minutes. On your right you will see long stairs right next to the sidewalk. Just walk up and you are there! :D
What to do:
The experience I will describe below is bathing in the bathhouse and having an Oil Massage for 40 minutes. It is 40000 Wons for the massage and they charged me 5000 wons for something else but I’m not sure what, maybe the locker fee.
You can also experience the Jimjilbang as just a Sauna and place to rest. The costs are much less in that case, I think only about 10000 wons.
Heads up since I was silly and didn’t know what I was doing, the small locker on the first floor is for your shoes (I tried to put my bag in there, lol). There will be a big locker for your clothes and all your belongings in the upper floors. Bring soap and any other bathing toiletries you might want to use but definitely bring soap.
Okay so for my experience… (Go do this yourself first before you read :)
I just wanted to check out ItaewonLand because I was planning on staying there the next week but I wanted to know where it was and a little about the place. I decided to get a massage to see the place more.
I was absolutely clueless when I got there. They didn’t really understand me too much and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to put my bag in a small locker and then the lady explained that it was a shoe locker and not for my bags. They basically took me from one point to the next. I also expected to walk into the Sauna area and just get my message but I had to wait. I had no problem waiting but I was just a little confused on what I should do while waiting. So she told me to take a shower; okay, I can handle that. Then she told me to relax by the pools. I can definitely manage that!
I was comfortable being naked but having a whole bunch of other naked females around me was a little harder to deal with. I was scared of where my eyes were going because I didn’t want it to look as if I was checking out a girl. So I looked at the roof a lot and tried to avoid eye contact. There were little naked boys running around and I that thought that was cute. It all seemed very natural and free.
Probably one of the most interesting things in the Sauna room was the huge Penis fountains. They beautifully complimented the setting but it was just a little odd since Korea seems to be a very sexually suppressed culture, or at least it is very taboo to talk about sex openly. I wondered if they had hug vagina fountains in the men’s bathhouse. Or maybe they just had a phallic obsession. I’m really not sure but I certainly pondered this while laying there in the pool.
So after an hour of jumping from the warm jacuzzis type baths to the super cold pools and lying out on the chairs while enjoying the warmth of the room, the lady finally called me for my message.
Wow, this massage was by far one of the most bazaar and comical experiences I have ever had. Just think about a movie where it seemed the Asian masseuse was almost killing her subject because of the excruciating pain she was inflecting when giving the massage. Those movie scenes are really no joke and I honestly felt that there had to be a hidden camera somewhere while I received my massage.
This lady stepped all over my body and at any point I swore she was going to break something. She pinched my shoulders so hard and punched my back about a million times. Ohhh… it was beyond painful. Then she put oil all over my body and continued to punch and pinch all my muscles.
She then added yogurt to my face, which felt really awkward but nice at the same time. I wasn’t expecting this because I had just asked for an oil massage but I think she gave me much more. I laid there trying to figure out what she had put all over my face because at first I didn’t realize it was yogurt. But I knew I had smelled it before. After she cleaned off the yogurt she put Kiwi all over my face. It was super cold but an awesome thing to try. However, what was not cool was when she put a netted sheet over my face to keep the Kiwi intact and then turned me over. She then pressed my face on the bed and Kiwi went all over my face in places it was not before and should not have gone. Talk about totally uncomfortable and a surreal experience.
The most unexpected thing was when she poured milk all over my body. And then a really nice thing in the end was when she washed my hair for me. I’m not sure if I paid for that either.
I would like to add though that before starting this massage, she relaxed my whole body by putting hot towels all over me. Ohhhhh… this was the best part by far and felt soooo good. I almost want to go through the whole thing again just for the hot towels.
After my massage, she told me to go take a shower. I had to wash myself at least 5 times before I could get all that stuff off of me. The water was pure white for at least 5 minutes.
I know this sounds crazy but I really did have fun. Even with the pain, I learned a lot about Asian massages. My co-worker told me that these types of very painful massages are very normal and desired by Korean females. Now I will never laugh again when I see a movie with an Asian Masseuse or maybe I will laugh even harder knowing exactly what that person is going through.