We just passed hump day. It's getting to that high frustration level where everyone wants to kill someone. For me it's one student in my class, I want to tear off his head and play soccer with it. However, all my frustrations were alliviated last night by a trip to the sauna. Matthew and I had discussed doing this last year, but it never manifested.
So, a Korean sauna has many areas and features; thankfully, I had a seasoned sauna veteran with me though who could help with the translating and just general "this is what you do now." At this one in Yeoju, first you enter the lobby and a man hands you a key to a locker where you put your shoes. Then you pay him 9000 won (~$9) and enter into the ladies (or mens, respectively) changing room. However, this is more than just a changing room, there's a tv, several mats, lots of floor space where if you wanted you could spend the night. Also, in this room was a people sized oven, seriously, it looked like something I'd bake bread in on a Wonderbread scale. Anyway, once safely nestled in the changing room you proceed to get buck naked. And, as we all know, that's when the fun begins. You enter the shower room where they have "western" wall showers and also the hoses with nostle attachments. There is a large hot tub as well as a large cold plunge. There were also two wet saunas each with a different theme, one being charcoal for it's purifying characteristics. Next to the tubs there were three massage tables, except these tables are covered in vinyl. You can pay an agima (an older Korean woman) 15,000 won (~$15) to scrub you while you lay upon one of these tables.
Ok, so if I'm going to a Korean sauna, I'm going all out so, of course, I got the scrub. The agima is naked save for a pair sheer leapord skin grandma panties (she is old enough to be a grandma after all). You lay on the table and she puts on a pair of gloves, which are essentially socks, that feel like brillo pads. She rubs you ~all~ over for a rough 15 minutes. There were rolls of dead skin sheeting off of me. It looked like I was surrounded by all these grey little bugs. Yes, that part was disgusting. The scrubbing was almost painful at first, but then I got used to it. I won't really say that part was pleasurable, but it was in that really gross "I just popped a big zit and look at all this stuff that came out of it" sort of way.
Anyway, after the scrubbing has ended (at that point you've laid on your back, your sides and your stomach, as well as sat up to have your back and neck properly scoured), the skin scraps get washed away by several nice bucket-fulls of warm water. Then, back on your back, you get soaped up. She then gets you to flip over and I felt like I was on a slip and slide while your back gets soaped. More warm water. Then a very brief oil massage with clapping hits along your buttocks, shoulders and calves. It was so cool!
After all that, I showered off the oil in order to enjoy the tubs a bit more. Oh, one glorious thing is that the tubs aren't chlorinated! Ok, so you've been scrubbed, showered and now you put on some sauna-provided lounging clothes to head up to the co-ed area. In the co-ed room, there's another large wooden floor with mats for sleeping, if you choose, a few coin operated massage chairs, and three more dry saunas, again with different themes. These were really cool with different mossaics. Well, of course after being in the sauna I needed one more cold plunge, but this time opted for the cold shower. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!
It was awesome!