As promised, I am here to talk about Jimjilbang. Jimjilbang is amazing. Jimjilbang is why it is great to be a Korean. I think that Jimjilbang translates to sauna room or something like that. Bang is room. Jimjil must mean awesome.
A few weeks ago, some of my friends went to Jimjilbang together but I declined to go because I just wasn't ready for public nudity. I decided that the first time I should go by myself. It might have helped to have a Korean with me but I am glad that I got to experience it on my own. Being naked with strangers is a lot easier than being naked with people you know and work with, right?
The jimjilbang I selected was right down the street from me. When you arrive, you pay 6,ooo won and they give you shorts, a shirt, and 2 hand towels. It's open 24 hours and there is a sleeping area so I suppose you could just stay there forever if someone brought you food (actually they might have had some food and drinks there but if you are living at the jimjilbang, you probably can't afford to be buying all of your food like that.) They give you a locker for your shoes and a second locker for your clothes. Once you disrobe you, you go into the bath area. Every jimjilbang is different but this one was great. There was a steam room which I sat in for a long time, a "kiln" that I couldn't stand for very long and a 3rd door which I didn't see until I had decided to leave and taken my final shower so "I'll have to get back to ya" on that. Then there were the baths. The had them labeled by temperature (Celsius). The biggest one was hot and wonderful. There were jets and waterfalls of water that you could put your back to. There was also a cold one and a warm one. A lot of the children were in the warm one and they were splashing. Now I normally don't like public pools and this would seem like its even worse- a public bath!- but I just loved it. It was so relaxing and there was a shower area where you could see everyone cleaning themselves before getting in the bath, which was reassuring.
Then there was an area where they would scrub you or give you facials. I got a full body scrub which kind of hurt intensely but I feel like I would do it again. The best thing was afterwards when they rinsed you with hot water. It really felt good to have all of that new skin. New year, new skin. So I spent a few amazing hours at jimjilbang on New Years Day and I am looking forward to going back. It was really amazing. The rest of my vacation was good and fun as well.