Last weekend, feeling under the weather (everyone at school has been sick) I decided to venture into the spa part of my gym. I use the gym, Bobos Sporex, frequently, but have only peeked into the shower part of the locker room (it takes me about five minutes to walk home from the gym, so I just shower there).
Inside the locker room at Bobos, there are glass doors leading to shower area. There are rows of showers, some requiring you to sit on a stool, as well as a hot pool of water, a cold pool of water, and a steam room.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but spas are very popular in Korea. There are many public “jimjilbangs,” which can be used for only a few thousand won, and even slept in. One of the first things that foreigners will tell you when describing jimjilbangs is how “very naked” they are. Koreans of all ages use the facilities completely unclothed. I don’t think they would let you wear a swimsuit if you tried.
The spa at my gym is no exception, which was fine with me, but I was very aware of the lingering glances of the older Korean woman that were sharing the facilities with me that Sunday afternoon. I’m sure they were just curious as to what a waygook (foreigner) looks like unclothed. They were all polite, however, as Korean woman tend to be.
I was instructed by one of the woman to shower upon entering, which I did, and then relaxed into the hot pool. Meanwhile, the other woman meandered throughout the steamy, cave-like corridors, hair wrapped in towels, chatting with one-another.
It took a little getting used to, but was a very pleasant experience. I can see why this is such a favorable past time in Korea. I mean, after working like a maniac in frigid weather all week, who wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours at a spa with friends, naked and engulfed in steam?