Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Compromising Positions

Yesterday Muffy and I began the day by heading downtown to do some shopping at Etude House - an inexpensive make-up store. We bought about a million shades of nail polish to give each other manicures and I bought some face masks and eyeshadows. After Etude House we headed to the beach to check out the ocean in the daylight. It was really cold and windy, so we stopped in a cafe and I got a sweet potato latte to warm up.

After the beach we headed to the jimjilbang (Korean bath house). The jimjilbang is quite the experience - I'll try to do it justice in a few sentences. Well, first of all there are no pictures because...well, because we were buck naked the whole time. So, Muffy and I entered and stripped down and left our clothes and things in a locker. All we took with us was the bracelet with the locker key and a little magnetic strip that keeps track of how much you spend.

We entered the sauna and bath area (which is very warm) and showered in the group shower area. All the women scrub and scrub to make sure they are as clean as can be before getting into the tubs. Once we were clean, we headed to the tubs. There are lots of different types of tubs - unfortunately I can't read Korean so I'm not entirely sure what each one was, but they all have beneficial qualities - hot, cold, minerals, and saltwater. We lounged in the different tubs for a while until we started feeling really warm, so we headed back out into the main area to get a cold drink. (Keep in mind we are still as naked as the day we were born.) We approached the cooler and browsed the options. We chose a thermos with a dark liquid we hoped was iced tea and walked over the counter to swipe our bracelet for it. The tea was super super sweet and lemony - but was cold and helped cool us down.

In and area adjacent to the tubs there is a room - well not a room because there is no door, just a partitioned off area - where there a tables where you can get scrubs, massages (I use that word loosely), and facials. The menu was in Korean, so we communicated by gestures with the woman who gives the treatments (who was wearing only a pair of lace panties_ - and for one of the items she made a scrubbing motion, pointed at her back and pointed at her face - so I assumed that was a package of all three and chose that one.

The treatment began with a thorough scrubbing. I can't really describe it - she scrubbed my ENTIRE body. Hard. I could see clumps of dead skin falling onto the table. She was pretty rough - flipping me like a pancake, and extremely thorough - I really don't think there is a millimeter of skin that did not get scrubbed. I assumed she's work around the more sensitive areas - but nope.

While getting scrubbed raw she intermittently worked on my facial - first she used whipped egg, then minced cucumber and finally strawberry yogurt. After the scrubbing, she rubbed me down with the whipped egg mixture.

Next was the "massage" portion. Mostly she just punched me - and I don't mean that kind of quick pounding massage. It was like: Bam! Pause. Bam! Pause. Bam. The first time caught me off guard and I yelped a little. Mostly she punched me in the shoulders - but also in other parts - legs, butt, soles of the feet... At first I thought she had a stone or something in her hand when she hit me - it was so solid and forceful, but when I looked it was just her little tiny fist. She tried to make small talk with me, but since my Korean is extremely limited it was a little difficult. She would point to herself and say "Korea" then point to me and I'd answer "America". Then she'd point to herself and hold up five fingers and then make a zero with her hand and then point to me and I'd answer with a two and an eight. It worked. After the massage she led me to a shower to rinse off and swiped my bracelet to charge me. I headed back to my locker to get dressed and check out and Muffy and I headed home to eat dinner before heading out for the night.

For our big night out we went to Warehouse - the dive bar where a lot of the English teachers hang out. We had a few drinks - and got a little tipsy. Once I had a few beers in me I had to pee and faced my first experience with a squat toilet. You should not be tipsy the first time you use a squat toilet - luckily Muffy is an old pro at it and showed me how it's done - Ha!

After Warehouse we went to Noribang. I LOVE Noribang. It's basically karaoke - but in a private room - which sounds like it's going to be really weird - but it's not; it is SO much fun. We chose songs from the list book, punched in the numbers, and sang our little hearts out. I always thought half the fun of karaoke was making a fool of yourself in front of complete strangers - but this is even more fun - and you get to sing for (almost) every song! We noribang-ed until four am and then went home and crashed.
After such a long night, we were prepared to sleep until the late afternoon - but Muffy's co-teachers called at 11 am saying they wanted to take us to lunch. So we tore ourselves out of bed and went to lunch and coffee with the co-teachers - and I'm really glad we did. They are so sweet! Mrs. Kang, Ms. Che, and Mrs. Jung treated us to samguepsa and then we went to a little coffee shop on the beach. I included a picture from the coffee shop which is a great example of the English (engrish) all over Korea.
After lunch Mrs. Kang suggested we check out Ojukheon Museum which named after the black bamboo growing in the area. The traditional Korean houses there are the birthplace of Korean scholar Yulgok and his mother - a painter - Saimdang. For dinner we had kamja tang - pork spine soup - which doesn't sound appetizing - but it's really quite tasty. The meat just falls off the bone and is so tender. After dinner we got dessert from a street vendor. I don't know what they are called -but they are like these pancake-y things stuffed with cinnamon, sugar and sesame seed.
I'm heading home tomorrow. I'm really sad to say goodbye to Muffy and N8 - but really looking forward to being reunited with jb. Muffy and N8 have been so great and welcoming and hospitable. I'm so grateful.

1 comment:

  1. did you notice that my smile face in the squat toilet is the same smile face that you are giving at the noribong? crazy..its like we're sisters