Posted July 2, 2011on:
The Korean bath house known as “jjim jjil bang” is a must for anyone who is visiting Korea. If you can’t get to Korea, then go visit one of the bath houses located in several metropolitan cities in the States. These jjim jjil bangs have heated rooms where you sit and sweat. The rooms are all different ranging from a “salt room” where the entire walls are covered in salt, to “gold rooms” where yes, the walls are covered in gold (although I really think its brass made to look like gold).
Most of these bathhouses are designed the same way. At the front desk you pay an entrance fee and they give you a key that corresponds to a locker number. You put your shoes in a locker near the entrance and enter the gender segregated locker rooms. Here you change into the outfits provided to you when you paid your entrance fee. Once you have changed make sure your locker is closed securely and you can then move to the unisex common area where the heated rooms are. Since many of these bathhouses are open 24 hours you can spend as little or as much time as you want sweating, sleeping, and best of all eating.
Depending on the establishment, the jjim jjil bang will have a restaurant where you can order anything from eggs to ramen. The key you carry around with you has an electronic chip and they scan this key whenever you want to order anything. Once you are ready to leave the establishment, you pay what you owe at the front desk. From my experience, skip the eggs and go for some shaved ice (pat bing soo) or the cold drinks. You can’t mess those up.
After sweating and eating and sleeping, you are ready to go back to the gender specific locker rooms where you get naked and take a dip in the bath area. No bathing suits, only birthday suits are allowed. Buck Naked. Yes its nerve racking at first but after a while you get used to all the boobies and butts. Inside the bath area there are several pools with different temperatures, jets and waterfalls. Like the heat rooms, you can go around and try everything out. But remember to take a quick shower before you dip into the pools. Its required that to wash yourself first so you don’t nastify the water.
After getting your skin ready, there is an area where you can sit and scrub yourself of all the dirt and dead skin housed on your body. In order to get all that dead skin off, use the italy towel (seen below). You scrub and scrub until all the dead skin is peeled off your body and finally go back to the showers to wash up and shampoo your hair. By the way you can pay a lady to give you a body scrub and let me tell you they will take so much dead skin off that you’ll lose 5 lbs. I’m not kidding, when you see all the dead skin coming off your body it looks like spaghetti strands. You can’t do that alone. But beware – they will get every orifice including in between your toes, your boobs, your butt…everywhere. If you can’t handle that, you might want to just start with the self scrub.
Dry off, get dressed and go back to the front desk with your key. Pay for whatever you bought and step outside and feel like a new born baby. Your skin will feel soft and supple, and your face will glow. Because your body has been through some intense temperature changes, you will feel tired and hungry. So go eat something soupy and I swear it will be one of the best meals you have that day.
I just got back from a trip to the jjim jjil bang and man i feel good. I keep caressing my arm feeling the softness.