It was our first night in Busan, and one of our troops was down with stomach flu. While she was sleeping we went to explore. While walking down the neighbourhood, Vi told me about the public baths she used to go with her family when she was still a kid. Motivated by her story, the cold night air and free time we had in our hands we decided to go to a Jjimjilbang, a large, gender-segregated public bathhouse in Korea.
We took the subway, read and reread the map, asked around when we finally find ourselves in front of the Spa Land.
Spa Land looked so luxurious that I almost chickened out. I was already running low in Wong, and we were only half into the Korea trip. We decided to check the price first. It was 12,000 KRW for four hours per person. Ten bucks. I could pay for that, so we did (after I asked the counter lady to confirm it was indeed 12,000 KRW, twice). They gave us each a key, towel and pointed us to the ladies section.
Before we go any further. I want to tell you that I have been to Spa before. Spa for me is sauna, facial, body massage and soaking oneself in milk bath for a half hour. I also have been to a public bath before; I soaked naked with my besties in a private Onsen in Koyasan. So yeah, I knew the drill or so I thought.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into a huge room with naked women gallivanting in front of me. They were, not only changing, they were chit chatting, drying hair, talking on the phone and standing in front of the vending machine NAKED. I almost choked with all the nakedness. The fool that I was I didn’t know that I was going to be naked as well. In five minutes.
I gave my best puppy shitting eyes to Vi. I was hoping that would change her mind to run back to the entrance. Too bad, she had stripped herself naked. I always thought I was the bravest one in a group, any group, but that was before I met Vi. This girl has balls. Whether it’s because she has (virtual) balls or the fact that she is so fair and smooth, Vi looked comfortable, like the rest of them.
Vi was waiting for me to get naked. I texted my BFF as much as F word as I could type before stripping down. The only thing I could do after putting the phone down was to curse myself for “embracing” winter by not shaving for a long time. F@ck.
Finally, I, the NAKED hairy brown girl, held my head down, walked across the hall and entered the next room, the public bath area. OMG I was so different from the rest of the women there you guys! I felt like everyone was staring and I could feel my heart became smaller and smaller by minutes. After the excruciating shower; where we had to do it properly and way longer than if we did it in private because we have to convince the hundred soaking women there that we were squeaky clean to join the fun; I entered the warm bath and finally, finally, could relax a bit and slowly a bit more and more.
This public bathhouse was huge. The women’s section has seven hot tubs inside and two outside, varies from 2 to 46 degrees. We spent some time inside before soaking at the nicer and quieter one outside. We then tried the 78 degrees sauna and called it a day, again, or, so we thought.
I quickly changed to the loose fitting clothes provided, after doing the walk of shame back to the changing room. We then used the toiletries provided; lotion, face cream, sanitized combs and went to find the snack area. We wanted to eat something light before going back.
What we didn’t expect was the public bath and sauna area were a small part of spa land. We walked pass by a gift shop, a restaurant, a tarot reading room into a stretch of hundred beach mattress complete with the umbrellas, indoor. This was the relaxation area. They have sleeping quarters for the guests to relax. There were interesting rooms and there was a second floor! This place was massive.
We finally found the snack stall in the corner. Vi told me it is customary to eat eggs after public bathing. She learned it from Korean drama. We got the eggs and sat in the lounge area. It was a huge open concept room with heated floor. While cracking the baked eggs open, I made a plan to bring my mom here one day. I must! It’s an awesome place.
After sometime of relaxing and half sleeping in the lounge room, we started to check out all 13 of the spa rooms. Each of them was designed uniquely and gives different benefits. I couldn’t be the pervert who brought a camera to a public bath so let’s settle for pictures taken by the almost-creepy hairy brown girl.
We finally went back at 11PM but not before soaking our feet on the outdoor hot footbath. Heavenly.. Especially during winter.
It was heaven you guys. I could feel all my worries washed off, melt away and evaporated. It was the best 10 bucks I spent in a long time. If I lived in Busan I would register to be their member right away. When you visit Busan, please PLEASE drop by at the Spa land so you can thank me later.