On another note, I had the ultimate Korean experience the other night. Ellen and Amanda and Erica had been trying to get me to go to the jimjilbang for awhile, but ewww, there was absolutely no way in hell I was setting foot in a public bathhouse. Well, I happened to be feeling pretty sorry for myself Thursday night. And Ellen sensed my vulnerability. She swooped right in for the kill and off to the jimjilbang I went.
This particular jimjilbang is really close to my house, and for only 9000 won, I had full access to four different soaking tubs, two saunas and a cooling pool. Amy, Ellen and I paid and then stripped down. I was actually surprised with how comfortable I was with my own public nakedness. I mean, I've got some T&A (and then some), not to mention numerous tattoos. Amanda had warned me the Koreans would gawk, but the really didn't. Or I was just too dense to notice. Whatever. The saunas were sizzling hot and the soaking pools were just right. We all opted to pay the extra 15,000 won for what I call the 'ajumma salt scrub' -- a middle aged Korean woman sloughs off all your dead skin, then rubs you down with lotion. Nice. All I gotta say is I have never been touched in so many places in such a non-sexual manner since I was a wee baby. Every part of me was scrubbed and smoothed and buffed.
After soaking for an hour and a half, we were all prunes. We got dressed in our finest pink jimjilbang-issued suits and headed to the common area. And apparently not all jimjilbangs are created equal. Ours was good. The common area had a cafe, a kiln sauna, sleeping quarters, an outdoor rooftop deck, a living room with a giant TV, internet (lest I be disconnected for more than an hour!), and many of those massage chairs I so love. We decided to relax with some popsicles in the massage chairs.
The night was not without its weirdness, however. Not five minutes after stripping down I was approached by a topless woman asking if I was a teacher. This is not an uncommon question. Kids and cab drivers and saleswomen and bartenders all ask this question. However, the time and place were definitely awkward. Answering this woman's questions about tutoring and times and rates in the nude was WEIRD. Then she offered me her card. Ha. Where does one put a card when one has no pants?