22 January 2012

New Seoul Mud

Today, I visited a spa in Itaewon called New Seoul Mud and it was quite the experience. First of all, I walked in and tried to get some information at the front desk. The woman behind the counter said, "Japanese only," to me, so I answered, "Well, I speak a little Japanese," in Japanese. I don't know why she said, "Japanese only," because she was Korean, but whatever. I know that the place caters to Japanese tourists. However, I was the only patron in there today. I'm assuming this was because it is the Lunar New Year weekend.

Anyway, once she finally took my money (₩70,000 for two hours of treatments) and admitted me, another lady took me by the hand and led me to the changing area. This lady asked me (in Korean) if I spoke English to which I replied, "Yes, but I also speak a little Japanese," in Japanese. She replied with the standard, "Wow! That's amazing," to which I replied, "No, it really isn't," because I know that my Japanese sucks.

I took off my clothes and changed into the little, cotton wrap that she gave me. This is standard attire in Japanese spas, whereas in Korean spas, they usually give you loose fitting shorts and a t-shirt. Then, another lady led me downstairs (speaking Japanese the whole time) and then she covered me in a burlap sack, took me by the hand and beckoned for me to enter a jade sauna. I had to crouch to get inside, since the door was Hobbit-sized. After I'd been in there for a few minutes, she came in and said, "It's hot, isn't it!" in Japanese. I said, "Yes, but I'm okay." Then, she said something else, but the only word I understood was "alone" so I said, "Yes, I'm alone." Then she said something in Korean and the only word I recognised was "American," so I answered, in Japanese, "No, I'm Canadian." She said, "Oh, Canadian," and smiled. Then, she motioned for me to throw the burlap sack back over my head.

I'm not sure how long she left me in there after that, but it felt like a really long time. I started thinking about how strange the whole thing was, sitting there in a burlap sack, speaking broken Japanese to some Korean lady, who appeared to have forgotten about the Canadian in the sauna. By the time she came to collect me, I was sweating profusely and felt a little bit faint. I guess I spent enough time in there to sweat out most of the toxins in my body. But wait, there's more! She led me to another area with three saunas and explained the order that I should go in. The first one was a traditional Korean Charcoal Sauna. The next one was a traditional Korean Clay Sauna, otherwise known as a Kiln Sauna. The last one was a steam room, or Hamam. I spent a few minutes in each one. Then, I saw another lady standing outside the steam room with a large bottle of water. She poured two cups of water for me, then led me to the showering area.

This part was really bizarre. I took off my cotton wrap and the two ladies stood there and watched me shower. Then, they told me to get in a Green Tea Hot Bath. I soaked in there for a while. Next, the second lady told me to get into some sort of Jacuzzi. It was very relaxing. I had the whole place to myself and I started imagining it was my own private spa. The second lady snapped me out of my daydream when I saw that she had changed into her standard Spa Ajuma (Spa Lady) outfit: black lace panties and bra. No, I'm not kidding.

She led me to the massage area. I lay on the table and she scrubbed me from head to toe. Now, when I say scrubbed, I literally mean that she scrubbed a layer of dead skin off my body. You can read more about Korean body scrubs here. Then, she gave me a fresh cucumber facial scrub and proceeded to massage my body with oil. Next, she put a mud pack on my face and massaged my body with milk. Afterwards, she washed my hair and then led me back to the showers to rinse off. Finally, she dried me off, wrapped me in a robe and sent me on my merry way. Back in the changing area, I dried my hair and got dressed. Then, I bid the grumpy lady at the front desk farewell...in Korean, Japanese and English.

3 comments:

Tracey J Whitney said...

I love this post Deena !!

Deena said...

Haha! Thank you, Tracey!

Vinod Oja said...

very nice post, wonderful information About Mud Therapy.
Thanks for sharing us!