To the spa

On Saturday, I woke up watching Rocky Balboa, which I love, and love even more when it’s presented in English among all the Korean infomercials of fish, heated mats, and belly-controlling spandex tights.  Rocky is so philosophical in this one: “The older I get, the more things I have to leave behind.”  I watched and enjoyed, and around noon, skyped with my family and caught up with the events of Pennsylvania.  I worked out for a few hours and then headed to the famous Dragon Hill Spa at Yongsan station around 5.  I arrived and found a beautiful entrance leading to a well-lit and friendly atmosphere.  The English guide helped me understand what amenities were available and where they were.  I had done my research and knew what to expect, but no amount of reading can prepare you for seeing hundreds of strangers walking around dripping wet and naked.  Now I enjoy a good nude moment and have gone that way in many private moments, mostly in the dark and with people I know well.  This was different; if I wanted to have access to those heated pools, I better strip down.  Once the initial shock wore off, you could forget for a moment about your birthday suit and just enjoy the pools.  One was around 110, the next around 100, and the cold pool hovered at 65 degrees F.  There was a real hot Himalayan salt room, a real hot wet steam room and comfortable pure saltwater baths.  I bounced in between real hot, and cold pools allowing my body to become numb.  I scrubbed healing salt over myself and rubbed away any dead skin, showered and repeated the process again.  I spent about 3 hours in the bathing area, literally soaking it up, but always wondering, why not bathing suits, do they know something we don’t know about the uncleanliness of our beachwear?

After that time, your body is starting to feel very relaxed, and I put on the assigned clothing and headed for the co-ed area.  The co-ed area is basically a large chill out area complete with various saunas and steam rooms.  The most amazing one is a large inverted beehive with the extreme temperature of over 180 degrees.  It is a traditional Korean charcoal sauna with pine leaves inside and burlap mats.  Sweating is not an option.  Standing up, the rising heat rips the skin from your face, but the dizziness is intoxicating and healing.  I ate a nice Korean meal of fried rice with many vegetables and a little beef.  Feeling sluggish again, and happiness oozing through all my cleansed pores, I went back to enjoy the golden pyramid shaped steam bath lazier than ever.  The day was coming to an end as I was reaching my heat limit, but overall, a fantastic experience.

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