I found bathing heaven in Busan. This may have been the best thing I have ever done in any country, ever.
Yes, I was bare-ass nekkid in front of dozens of women. And yes, perhaps I didn’t understand exactly how to exfoliate like a Korean woman. BUT OH MY GOD, I AM CLEAN.
Vinnie and I went to one of the worlds largest public bath houses, Hurshimchung, where we went our separate ways to experience pure relaxation and minor anxiety due to extreme public nudity.
At the bath house, you’re stark naked from the minute you walk in the door. You don’t wear a towel in the locker room, you don’t wear a towel in the sauna and you certainly don’t wear a towel walking between baths. You are NAKED and I LOVED IT.
I soaked in a 110 degree Chinese medicinal herb bath. I was massaged by a metric ton of water pounding down on my back. I chilled in a Philosophy bath, a cave bath and an ice bath.
I sat in a tub made of 4000 year old Korean spindle trees with “sanitizing effect like forest bath, relaxing effect, stress resolving effect and mysterious effect in neuralgia and longevity thanks to aroma and oil peculiar to the tree”
There was even a “half-bath” where you could sit at a water table and buy drinks or read the paper.
After bathing for over an hour, Vinnie and I put on spa clothes (that looked like floral prison uniforms) and headed down to the co-ed Jjimjilbang section. This area of the spa was a place where men and women just chillax together. There was a huge room with people lying around with wooden blocks for pillows, watching the TV. In the Jjimjilhang there was a restaurant, an internet cafe, and specials rooms where you go to breathe.
Vinnie and I started in the “Real Charcoal Room” where the walls are lined with burnt charcoal to clean the air and help “block electron ray”
After our lungs were purified, we headed to the refreshment section and grabbed a ddeok-boggi for dinner. We totally missed something cool. At the refreshment area there were selling what we thought were hard-boiled eggs – we ignored them because they were strangely expensive compared to everything else on the menu. Later were found out that the egg wasn’t hard boiled, instead it was roasted in the sauna and tastes delicious.
After dinner we hit up the ice room (shaped like an igloo) where we sat on marble to “cool your tired body suffered from heat.” Then headed to the mysterious yellow soil room where “best yellow soil is breathing.”
After all that sauna sweating, we headed right back up to the baths for more.
Just a heads up, if you’re inspired to visit Korea and grab a bath – before bathing and in between baths, Korean women exfoliate each other. This is not at all similar to the American style standing under the shower and rubbing yourself with soap. This is not your mom giving you a bath when you were 4. Korean women go to the spa with their mothers, squat on little stools and violently rub the SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER.
And if you’ve read this far, let me just let you know that Koreans do not trim. There is no such thing as a Brazilian bikini wax. Just be aware. My friend Heather saw one woman blow dry her bush.