Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday Night at the Sauna

Last night, my friend Hye-jin (HJ) and I went to a "sauna" (pronounced sa-oon-na).  Last week we were chatting about saunas in Korea and decided to go to one together. Basically, it is a public bath house. HJ did some online research to find the perfect area for us to go to. We're both teacher's and the last thing we need is to see our students or their parents in our birthday suits!

HJ found a sauna quite near to her apartment, but far from mine. We arrived there at around 7:30pm (Sunday, February 28).

We paid our admission fee (6,000 Won / approx $6US) and we were given two towels each.  Then we entered another room where we have to put our shoes into a locker.

We found a locker where we kept our bags and clothes. We stripped down. Yes, everything - off. No underwear. No bra. Nothing. It was very empty when we got there and I was really relieved. I felt conscious when I saw one lady looking at me, but I tried to ignore her.

First, we paid money (15,000 Won each) to two ladies sitting in a room next to the showers. They are the ladies who SCRUB!! We entered the shower area. It's a large room that has showers where you can either sit or stand. You take a regular shower and wash your hair as well.

There are four large pools with different temperatures - warm, hot, cool and cold. After taking a shower, we went to these "pools" (like a hot tub) and sat there for a while. Remember, we were still in our birthday suit. WOW! Immediately I thought of my Korean friends / colleagues who told me they go to a sauna to relax.

A few minutes passed, and we went to an area where there were two beds covered in plastic. Two ladies, only wearing underwear (no bra) told us to lie down on our tummy (still naked).  They put on scrubbing gloves and started to scrub from my legs right up to my back. She hit me twice to tell me to flip over. She scrubbed every inch of me from head to toe. I'm a bit ticklish, but had to endure it! After the scrub, she soaped me down and then put hot towels on my back. To wash the scrub and soap off my body, she poured a bowl of water on me.

HJ and I headed back to the hot tub for a few minutes, and then went to the sauna room (sauna as we know it). We took one last shower and left to enter the locker room area.


In the locker room, they sell everything you need - sachets of soap, shampoo, cleansers, panties, bras, snacks and drinks. HJ (doesn't know why exactly) told me that people often eat a boiled egg after a shower or they drink iced coffee.  We had the iced coffee.  While the lady was making it for us, we applied oils and lotions and got dressed. We sat around chatting for a bit before it was time for us to leave.

We got a cab and went back to HJ's apartment where her husband and baby were waiting for us. By then, it was 9:30pm and we were going out for dinner! At dinner, HJ told me that she couldn't stop stroking her arms and I realized that sitting cross-legged on the floor, I was stroking my leg! My skin was silky smooth.

Of course, I do my own scrubs at home, but the pressure of someone else doing it for you is very different. The difference is definitely noticeable.

THIS is the secret to Korean's supple skin!

I've always been conscious to even get dressed in front of people, so for me to walk around in absolutely nothing in front of strangers is something quite unreal. And - being a foreigner, I stand out more! After a minute, it just doesn't matter!

HJ and I agreed that it should be a monthly outing for us!

Dinner was soon-du-bu (spicy tofu stew)
Absolutely delicious!

Baby Seo-jun - such a good boy!



Anonymous said...

im jealous coz i also want a scrub!!!

Anonymous said...

how "hot" was sauna? cause i never tried such a thing. i am not that heat type even when i like to take a hot, hot, hooooooot bath weekly :)

Sheetal said...



I don't know the temp of the sauna room itself, but it was very dry .... we couldn't stay long in there. Our bodies adjusted to the heat of the hot water,'s SO nice - hope you can try it some day :)