On Thursday, I ended up going to a jimjilbang for the first time. I’ve basically been getting up the courage to go since I got here. I wanted to try it out because it’s a very Asian experience, and as I’m here in Asia, I wanted to experience it. One way or another.
In case you didn’t read my last post, a jimjilbang is a public bathhouse/sauna/spa.
It depends on the size of the one you’re going to but for the most part, each of them has different pools (different temps)–like hot tubs, steam rooms, common areas and hot rooms (it’s like a dome-shaped stone room that they have set at a high temp. to help relax you and make you sweat out toxins/cleanse your body. They also have ice rooms too.
Anyway, you’re required to be nude if you want to use the [gender separated] saunas and hot tubs/pools. There’s a belief that the hot temperatures bring out toxins from clothing and bathing suits when it’s in that hot of a temperature. Also, (according to Wikipedia) some people will assume that you have something (some gross infection, etc) if you try and wear a bathing suit. 1st–I don’t think it’s even allowed to wear one, and if you did, you’d stick out even more. (Same goes for the bathhouses in Japan). All common areas and the hot room things are mixed and they give you a special uniform to wear.
The review: REALLY NICE. I went with a friend and I had heard of a really nice (and massive–7 floors!) one that was really popular in this city. It was really awkward at first and we couldn’t stop laughing, ha. We decided to do the common areas first and explore a bit and then go into the sauna.
It ended up being ok because we went around midnight (got a late bbq dinner) on a Thursday and it wasn’t overly crowded. I had heard that “you WILL get stared at” (being a foreigner/having curves/etc etc) but perhaps because it wasn’t very crowded, it didn’t happen as much as I expected.
Anyway, it was super relaxing and I loved the hot rooms. You just go in and lay on the heated stone floor. I saw some people with books in there too.
Next Post: Mudfest 2012