I was just reminded that I was supposed to tell you how the Korean Bathhouse Adventure turned out. ( Sorry for the leading title, and No, I'm not writing this post naked.)
The idea was born on a December ladies night out. The energy and enthusiasm with which the idea was received was second only to the amount of Appletinis imbibed.
It did put me off my game when our initial party of 8 dwindled down to me and 1 possible other. But, I have this horrible habit of sticking to my plans, always following through, no matter what... so, I went up there alone, because this was an adventure, dammit. and first stop was a Caribbean style bar for a few fortifying mojitos. Battling traffic and bitchy co workers, my friend Debbie made it in time for another cocktail and a light dinner, before we checked in at Jeju.
If you could stay anywhere in the world for 24 hours at a cost of $25, would you choose a Korean bathhouse in Georgia? Probably not.
HERE IS THE PLACE. Jeju.
Cool little website, right. Nice music even. And I'm glad there are photos because I didn't take any when I visited. I mean, where was I going to hide a camera?
The online brochure shows how unique and beautiful the saunas are ( I called them "huts" but I think that is more Native American and less Korean, also, there was no birch branch switching going on.)
Each sauna has a different therapy and unique design element.
The floor of the whole place in yellow jade and heated beneath the surface. Walking barefoot is a necessity, yet inside the saunas there are grass mats/ natural flooring on top of the jade.
You have to be open-minded to totally enjoy Jeju. if you're a germophobe, or a prude, or hate the heat, or Asians, then forget it.
You pay at the front counter, get a pink tee shirt and shorts outfit, a wristlet key for your locker and are separated men from women.
For the purpose of the post, I will assume the men's side is as similar as the woman's.. though we wondered who gave the treatments over there, because on our side? It was Korean ladies in black lace bras and flowered panties. Yep.
Lockers have plenty of room for your clothes and purse, etc. Lots of people bring laptops, books, and iPods. FREE WI-FI.
We brought some things with us- after I shared a link of a Travelocity post where a girl recommended flip flops and robe and large towel. We didn't use any of those things, wanting to truly experience the traditional bathhouse. I didn't see anyone in a robe or with a large towel. In the private women's area, it is all naked all the time, baby.
Steam room, dry sauna, stand up showers, sit down scrub/ shower units- 4 rows of them, a cold water plunge, a warm water pool, and a jetted hot tub, plus an area for bathing on marble under UV lamps. Whack.
This is all included in your entrance fee, as are the 7 sauna rooms and huge community swimming pool in the main area.
We started with the main area saunas where everyone had clothes on. Lots of families and lots of Europeans, and tiny babies. Was thinking what a great hotel it is- can't beat the price. Then I wondered why homeless people don't know about the place.
Jade Sauna, Gold and Silver Sauna, Salt Sauna... all great. stretch, rest, meditate. Lots of couples.
After rehydrating, we used the wet side of the facility, in the nude ladies area.
We bought an extra treat: a 1.5 hr scrub/massage/facial.
I wasn't sure I could hang for that long... and facials can weird me out, like the inability to really breathe in a steam room... ok. I know I have issues, but honestly? I no likey.
Debbie FORCED me to commit, and I told the woman, "Hey, if I want to be done early, I can, right? I will pay you the same, but I may not be able to hang.. okay?"
She nodded and I was sure she had no idea what the hell I was whining about, so I just laid my naked self on the slippery white vinyl table and tried to not feel like the slab of meat behind the glass at the butcher window at Kroger.
The scrub is first. It's herbs and a little water and some salts and is applied with a brillo pad. Or something similarly scratchy.
Afterward, Debbie said,"I have to ask, was that my skin they were peeling off at the beginning, because I was feeling these big chunks..."
I stopped her. "It was herbs and lavender. Wait. You are asking me that now? If it was your skin? Four hours later?"
It is pretty easy to zone out there. After we were scrubbed, they sloshed water on us with big bowls, sent us to the showers and then laid us down again for round 2. Lavender oil massage. They didn't miss an inch. Let's just say, the flip over part was a little trickier with all that oil on vinyl.
Round 3 was a scalp massage, reflexology and a facial, followed by them washing and conditioning our hair. the facial was a bit freaky when she got goop on my lashes and sealed my eye shut. I had to sit up for that one, though she kept pushing me down. Do you know how hard it is to tap-out on a oily vinyl slab when your opponent is a tall Korean chick in lace underwear?
Afterward, we slipped back into the Jeju outfits and did the rest of the saunas, explored the upstairs fitness room, smoking room, poker/ game room, and wished the mani-pedi place was open. We drank fresh juice and shared some noodles and generally vegged out. Literally.
At 1 am, we watched the clients line up to get their sleep mats and blankets. The security guy arrived as people found a lace to bed down in the big open room.
I think we were there five or six hours. I really don't know. I do know that I definitely want to go back, and this time, stay the night.