If you’ve never visited a traditional Korean bathhouse, you’re definitely missing out on quite a colorful experience. There’s a lot to see, and a lot going on at JeJu Sauna and Spa, but don’t be overwhelmed by what I call the Korean Slip N Slide.
First and foremost, it should be noted that if you have any qualms about “public” nudity, you would need to get over them quickly. Did I forget to mention they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Very pleased to read this! My girlfriends and I were off to an awesome start, about to have some fun girl time! I already googled and formed my opinion about the treatments provided here and I wasn’t up for the “hip bath“. Wooohoooo! Finally we arrive and approached the front counter, where we were given an armband with a micro-chipped code that all services would be charged to. It was also the key to our shoe locker, and our personal belongings locker. So James Bond right? We were also given a shirt and shorts and instructed to always wear them in the common areas where the men & children were. Men and children? We came to get away from them, right? Since we were there to have services rendered, we were told to strip and jump right in, and when I say strip, I mean TOTALLY NUDE. We proceeded to our assigned locker to pack our tour garments away and striped down to our birthday suits.
Feeling a bit timid but intrigued, our tour guide went through all the services they offer and just like that we were addicted and wanted to experience it all including the
HIP BATH! There it was… Imagine a wooden box with a hole in it. Underneath is a bowl of 19 different herbs. You sit on it covered in a smock, imagine the cape you wear at the salon, but it’s made of plastic, and it covers your feet.
We watched TMZ while they heat the herbs under our box, and the steam literally stews you for 45 minutes. It goes into your “private parts” and EVERYTHING comes out later. It’s supposed to be good for cramps, cleansings, infections, and it works. PS…we were rubbing elbows with a Black Hollywood Star; Sorry I can’t tell you who it is, I’m sure she wouldn’t want ya’ll to know she was somewhere sitting on a box! LOL!
Now here’s where things get even more interesting…
First we took a shower, the first of three for the day. With complete absence of luxury, this place is more like a serious bathhouse than a spa. It is not pretty. There is no soft music, incense or candles burning. Keep in mind ladies, It doesn’t have to be pretty to get you killer results; Or any privacy whatsoever in this giant space with 10 beds stacked next to each other with naked women laying there in a row as if dead waiting to be identified. Next to the beds were large buckets of water, huge containers of stuff and a whole lot of hustle. After marking our numbers on a dry erase board, we anxiously waited our turn, while soaking in the hot tubs. Once our numbers were called, we were led to the white vinyl covered table and lay face down. Oddly enough, the attendants themselves wear no “uniforms”—but rather, lace bras and panties. Not exactly what I would have expected—but it made me no never mind. My cute little middle-aged attendant doused me a few times with a shallow bucket of warm water, dipped her exfoliating mitts into the lavender herbs and soap and went to work. And when I say “work”—I mean, work. The tables were like slip and slides!!! We were naked oiled up and sliding outta control on a Naked Korean Slip N Slide.
You learn to trust a stranger who does not speak your language, and in whose presence, you are totally naked and vulnerable. Letting go of expectations and trusting that you are in good hands:
It is hard not to let the mind wonder, when you cannot talk and you cannot completely relax, and you also cannot hide! What do you do? Well, you go within the maze of your thoughts, and take tours within the land of your consciousness, and habitual thoughts come up, such as: I wonder if she knows what she is doing? Why is she making me wait, where did she go? And on and on, but then, at some point, you let go, you decide to trust. Since she can’t talk to me, she can’t exactly prepare me with what she will do next. One minute, she has me laying down face up, and slowly moving my arms, and the next minute, she is slapping my thighs into submission! The surprises were so nerve-wracking at first because I had to go! (I guess my herbs began to work) I wanted to control them at first but no more. That’s when it happened. In case you didn’t know, Gas strikes in two different ways – uncontrollable farts or sharp, shooting pains that feel a lot like dying. My God, help me. I have a horrendous fart on deck. I’m in trouble. Big trouble! The more I held it in, the more pain would shoot through my stomach, gripping on anything I could and there wasn’t much, I thought I was dying. Not to make a scene, I proceeded to tell my non-english speaking attendant, I now desperately needed to use the bathroom, in an urgent, explosive kind of way. She responded with a confused look, she wasn’t getting it. OMG, Seriously? I needed to hurry – “I’m in a lot of pain.” I managed to say through gritted teeth. How do you tell a someone you just met that the reason you’re writhing in pain is because you have to go to the bathroom Well, you can either tell them, or let a fart speak for itself. People, hear me. There was nothing I could do. As impressive as I am with sphincter control, this was out of my hands. The more I tried to stop it, the more she was forcing it out with her massaging motion. However, to my pleasant surprise, Chatty Kathy, my girlfriend conveys the message for me. Oh dear lord?—-blablabla.
“What? Why? What’s going on?” “Why are you …” then it hit her. I could see it in her eyes. Was it surprise? Horror? Was she starting to freak out because I was freaking out as I slid off the table and ran to the bathroom. You must learn to let go the obsession of control, and learn to be OK with life’s surprises and take them with poise and grace and a whole lot of laughter, and we did.
Afterwards I return for shower, (PLEASE) #2, then onto the body scrub. They scrubbed my skin for forty-five minutes straight! All kinds of dead skin came off. It was like heaven. Next shower #3, then the hair washing and massage with Oils, tension, stress….pure bliss. Last was the facial… My face was glowing and dewy. After several hours have passed, Just before we left, we all looked into the large dressing mirror on the wall to see how fresh our face looked when I noticed some extra bling on one of my girlfriends. Wow! I love these bonding moments. You don’t make this connection with cocktails at happy hour. We got dresses and prepared to head home.
Just as this amazing experience leaves you with a completely new layer of skin, in life too, you need to shed the layers of doubt and insecurity and fear. You cannot hold on to them and expect to live a courageous life on your own terms. It is an either/or not a both. Let them go because those layers are just as disgusting as the old dead grey skin that only this Korean woman was able to get off my body (and the body of every other woman there, just to give you a reference!) And for my treatment, I got the “Full Throttle” Acupressuer massage. Sorry, but there are no adequate words to describe this. All I can offer you in an O.M.G. and even that is an understatement, well, mind-blowing. Yes, yes, yes, worth the splurge. I was blown away.
Ladies, all I can say is you HAVE to try this place. I can’t wait to go back with all my friends. You will lose all inhibitions of being naked in front of others as soon as they start your body scrub.
To really soak up the culture (bad pun intended), allow yourself a few hours. Better yet, stay for the entire day or spend the night. Yes, they have sleeping rooms outfitted with mats and little block-shaped pillows. Wake up feeling refreshed, and then do the whole thing all over again. These facilities are not like “spas” in the pretentious cosmetic sense. Rather, they are more like spiritual health houses, in the sense that physical cleansing (inside and out)
Shouts out to Sherri for the suggestion! Keep them coming.
Btw…Sorry there’s not many pics. Kinda self-explanatory.