This past week after work one of my coworkers asked me if I wanted an “interesting experience” with a mischievous grin. I was tired from having hyper children crawling on me all day while I tried to teach them English and my first impulse as an introvert was to go back to my apartment and re-charge for the following day. However, I figured I owed it to myself to at least try something new, even though I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I was told it was a “spa” and that it was unlike anything I had ever done before. I was advised to keep an open mind and that it might not be for me. I was more intrigued after being warned of the weirdness so I happily agreed with a “how bad could it be?” mindset.
So, we walked about 20 minutes from our school to a neighborhood that I had never been to in Cheonan. I probably couldn’t find it by myself if I tried right now, or maybe I could trust blind faith. Either way, we showed up to what looked like a typical gym. We paid at a welcome desk, about $4 USD per person and my coworker smiled and said “here we go.” He lead me into a locker area and after a confusing ritual of taking our shoes off, putting our shoes in one locker, walking to another locker room, I was told, “time to get naked.”
What ensued was a typical male gym locker room experience. Hell, it was a typical after-phys. ed. experience at my all boy high school too. You strip down and head over to the showers. Except, there was an entire self-service spa here. It’s called a jimjabang. Yes, it’s pretty much a bath house. Now you might be thinking, is that the same sort of place the singer George Michael got bagged for soliciting another young gentleman back in the 90’s? Well, hell if I know.
Essentially what you do here is open up the pores in your skin by alternating between hot tubs of various heat level, steam room, sauna, icy baths, swimming pools and ice cold showers. I’ve done such things while staying in a friend’s cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin in the dead of winter. I’ve been blessed throughout my life with pretty good skin so exfoliating has never really been something I was too concerned with. However, I’m a sucker for a good hot tub, especially if it’s just a few marks below scalding. Luckily these hot tubs are very hot and big enough so you’re not too close for comfort with the other buck naked dudes splayed out getting their skin treatment on.
I think the series of events that unfolded were as follows: first you’ve got to shower before you go in the spa area, so you just wash up with soap and water. Then, you dunk in a hot tub for a bit and soak for a while, which leads to a steam room. After steaming for me was an unquestioned amount of time (think somewhere between discomfort and unconsciousness), you walk to an industrial looking shower that pours ice cold pressurized water on you. Hampton Beach Innie Club. Then, you go back to the hot tub area to the hotter tubs, which are, even by my standards, hot as hell. Then from there, you get into a lap pool which seems really cold as well and do some laps to get your blood flowing. Then, back into the fire; a 130 degree sauna for say 10 minutes to death. After the sauna you go lay on cold bricks and marble flat on your back until your heart rate normalizes and you start to come back to the real world. Then, it’s one last dip in the special hot tub which looks like a kiddie pool that a dirty dog just got out of. Apparently it’s a specialty soil bath that is very good for your skin. I reserve judgement.
After your repeated scalding and cooling in rapid succession, you head over to a separate shower area again and scrub the skin off of your body with a body cloth that feels like it’s been dipped in commercial grade sandpaper. You just lather and scrub, lather and scrub and lather and scrub until your skin starts to either bleed or feel clean. For whatever reason, I can take the super hot water, but rubbing my skin until its raw turns me into a weakling, so I just finished up a little early and headed back to the locker room with my co-worker.
At the end of it all, I felt good. I felt like my skin was clean.I also felt like I lost at least a quarter inch of epidermis too. At what cost? Well, at just $5 USD, I think it was a fair price for such an experience. Would I recommend it and do it again? You betcha. As long as you don’t have too many body self-esteem issues (there are dongs literally everywhere) and you don’t mind putting yourself through dramatic shifts in body temperature, I think it’s a fine experience to re-invigorate just about anybody.
For the ladies curious about jimjabangs; yes, there are jimjabangs available just for females too. I hope to be invited to review one of those someday as well.
Until next time, stay weird and righteous.