Elwood 5566

Update on Hyu-Lim Won JJimjilbang – Dasa, Daegu

Posted in Bathhouse by 노강호 on May 21, 2012

Two years ago, when I first reviewed Hyu-Lim Won Bathhouse, I was quite impressed. However, on a visit this weekend I was suddenly struck by how small it is. Certainly, by bathhouse standards it is large, but I guess, after more experience and some visits to very large establishments, it has shrunk a little. However, it is still worth a visit.

Despite the shrinking of Hyu-Lim Won, I was amazed how the area immediately around the complex had developed. I was last in this area a little over a year ago and there was a clear view from the front of the building to the main road opposite. Suddenly, there are now six high-rise buildings, all on the verge of completion, blocking the view. Indeed, Dasa is now almost a mini city and the farms that once lined the main road between the edge of Dasa and the back of Keimyung University, have since been replaced with high-rise housing.

The large development that has sprung up in front of Hyu-Lim Won, since my last visit a year ago

The speed of development is quite impressive

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Further References

Hyu-Lim Won 24 hour jjimjilbang, Dasa, Daegu

Home Spa World – Apsan, Daegu

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu, services and facilities, Sport by 노강호 on February 12, 2012

Home Spa World

Rating – Luxury

First visited on February 10th 2012. This is a large complex situated right on the edge of Apsan mountain between Dae Myeong Middle School (대명중학교) and Samdong Bridge (삼동교). It lies almost directly on the perimeter of Camp Walker. This is probably the largest bathhouse I’ve so far visited in Daegu and the length of the changing facilities and the bathhouse itself, took me 80 paces. The reception is on the ground floor along with some shops, a bank,  restaurants and a Paris Baguette.  The male changing facility and bathhouse is on the 3rd floor with the corresponding female facility on floor 2,

The changing facilities are very spacious and divided into numerous partitioned areas. Once you have your ticket, you use your ticket number to find your shoe locker and the key from this then opens your clothes locker. My key number was 637 and there were several more partitioned areas after mine so the changing area must accommodate a thousand people. The changing facility runs the entire length of the bathhouse and is enormous.  In the center of the changing area are the entrance to, and exit from, the bathhouse.

You enter the bathhouse onto a raised plinth which at the front has steps to the floor level and to the side slopes down to the floor. Standing on the plinth, the entire complex can be viewed. Inside the bathhouse, on the right hand side are 80 sit down shower areas with 25 standing showers lining the wall. On the opposite side to the entrance, which is raised, are the saunas and on to the left, the bathing areas.

(The steps to the plinthed exit are on the right). This photo, taken from the entrance to the no-cheon and between the hinoki and 'event' pools, gives a good sense of the size of this facility. The row of lights at the far end are the stand up showers with the seated showers beyond the furthest pool.

The bathing area is pleasantly lit by diffuse  lighting under dark blue paneling which  mirror image the pools. Two rounds pool, one hot and one cool sit on either end of a large semi-circular pool from which one can watch television.  On the far side of the entrance  is a large cold pool (냉탕) which is slightly recessed and on the wall of which is a large alpine mountain panorama, illuminated from behind. On the left of the cold pool are three individual, sunken bubble baths (거품탕) which you climb down into. On the same wall, but in the opposite direction adjacent to the showers, are three saunas, one of yellow mud (황토방), a steam sauna and a yellow stone sauna (황석). Next to these, in the corner is a partially enclosed scrub down area and a urinal.

This photo is taken from the center of the room, back to the showers and facing the no-cheon where the previous photo was taken. The entrance is on the left and the cold pool on the right.

Standing on the raised entrance and looking in the opposite direction, to the left far end, are two more baths one being a large square, wooden, Japanese cypress bath (히노끼) which is situated under the television, and in the left-hand corner a round ‘event pool’ (이벤트탕). The ‘event’ pool has a large menu on the wall detailing the daily essences added to the bath, herb, schisandra (오미자), jasmine etc, and their medicinal qualities.  In the far right-hand corner are three cold ‘waterfall’ showers and in the opposite corner, next to the ‘event’ pool is a pine wood, herb sauna. Directly to the left of the entrance for this is a raised sleeping area with a heated floor. Dotted here and there on the edge of pools are stone mermaids, dolphins and other such features, pouring water into the pools.

The far left of the entrance contains the entrance to an area exposed to the outside temperature and known as a no-cheon (노천). Of the indoor no-cheons I have visited, this was the most successful. The area comprises most of the width of the bathhouse area and contains a cold pool (냉탕)  and a steaming, large ‘forage bath’ (목초탕). The area is pleasantly decorated, although the plants are plastic, with spouting water features and in one corner are even a pair of small male and female totem poles. In this area is also a Finnish style sauna.  A couple of seats allow for relaxation and provide a view, upwards. to the edge of the mountain. Usually, for the sake of privacy, indoor no-cheon areas have slated type windows which are frosted and though they allow the breeze to enter, hence providing outside temperatures, they usually have no view. The mountain at this point is steep enough to be void of footpaths and public and though there is a large frosted panel blocking any horizontal view, one can look up and glimpse the mountain slope.  The no-cheon area is pleasantly decorated, though the plants are plastic, with stone features, water spouts and there is even a pair of small, male and female totem poles (장승) guarding the area. The no-cheon area also has a Finnish-style sauna.

The location of Home Spa's no-cheons (노천). The male no-cheon, on the third floor, seems to have greater visibility and the window of the Finnish sauna is just visible.

a view of the bathing area with the entrance to the no-cheon in the far left-hand corner

The ‘powder room’ is comfortable with the usual array of  fans, hair dryers, lotions and skin bracers. The changing area is massive and spacious and in particular, the TV area had an enormous table with four large leather sofas.

Getting there – (Wiki Map link )

Location of Home Spa World

Bus Lines: 410, 730, 349, and others stop in the immediate area.

By Subway – the closest subway to Home Spa is Daemyeong (대명) from here it’s possible to walk but a taxi might be easier.

Times – opens at 0600 and closes at 2300.

Cost – 7000W

Facilities –

Facilities

Bathhouse (men) – barbers, 4 saunas, 8 pools, 95 showers, TV relaxations area, TV access in pool area and in saunas, shoe shine, snack area

Others – swimming pool, golf, yoga, fitness, jjimjilbang,

Waygukin – none

Address

Tel: 053-470-1100-3

Websitehttp://www.h-spa.com/

Layout (coming)

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©努江虎 – 노강호 2012  Creative Commons Licence.

Wonderful Spaland – A Little Less Wonderful. Update (1)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu, services and facilities by 노강호 on October 26, 2011

For most of this year, Wonderful Spaland has remained my favourite bathhouse in the west side of Daegu. The allure lay in the heady scents emitted in the Roman Mosaic Steam Room, and the smoky smell of the oak charcoal bath the essences extracted by a process of condensation. Other attractions included a large massage pool, the semi-exposed no-ch’eon (노천) as well as the fact the facilities were impeccably clean and comfortable.

Wonderful Spaland

Last weekend was a bad time to visit. With a major baseball quarter-final in play the baths were packed and at one point I estimated about two hundred people in the pool and shower area. However, most bathers weren’t watching the game but enjoying the massage pool. To compound matters, Saturday had been a ‘play Saturday’ (놀토) and as the majority of students had finished their mid-term exams, there were plenty of kids splashing about and making a noise.

Unfortunately, several changes have occurred in the arrangement of pools which has slightly downgraded my rating of Wonderful Spaland. I know from comments by other readers that the women’s section had the same structure as the men’s area but currently, don’t know if the changes have been applied to one area or both. In my opinion, the changes have removed facilities that gave the establishment  a clear lead over other luxury bathhouses.

The ‘Roman Sauna,’ which formerly had a large structure in the center of the circular room which hissed out the most intoxicating aromas,  has been removed and the floor underneath replaced with mosaic. This was the central feature of the sauna and it felt quite natural to be seated around this, on solid mosaic seats. With the structure removed, and no central focus, it now feels a little odd sitting in a circle. A TV screen now occupies the wall but the circular seating isn’t practical and effectively retires the seating under the TV. I can’t remember if the screen was there before; if it was, its presence was insignificant as one’s interest was dominated by the hissing of the ‘cauldron’ in the center of the room. This sauna has gone from balanced and enjoyable to clumsy and pointless but the mosaic decoration, if any consolation is attractive.

Wonderful Spaland’s luxurious ‘milky bubble tang’

The oak charcoal bath (짬나무/목초탕), the scent of which permeated the entire bathhouse, was formerly in the no’ch’eon area, next to the salt sauna but this has now been replaced by a mud bath. The current charcoal bath is now located in the center of the complex alongside  the ‘event-bath‘ (이벤트탕) and the unique ‘milky bubble bath.’  The charcoal pool is no longer as intense as it was and though its scent is still noticeable as you approach the changing rooms, it no longer lingers on your skin for several days.

The mud bath is nothing to get too excited about and whatever mud is present merely dirties the water.  Perhaps mud baths don’t need to be sloppy and dirty and in all fairness, the only suitable place to locate this facility is by the salt sauna as these also have a shower outside them to hose off excess salt.

In my opinion, while Wonderful Spaland still remains one of the best Saunas in the area though the restructuring knocks it down a notch making it directly comparable to other ‘quality’ bathhouses.

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Na-Seong Hawaii Bathhouse (Jinch’eon. Daegu)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Sport by 노강호 on August 4, 2011

Na Seong Hawaii – Jin-ch’eon.

Rating: Excellent

(First visited 7th of June 2011. Last visited 25th of July 2011). Despite the fact that you are likely to see more right angles in Na-seong Hawaii than in most other bathhouses, the atmosphere is calm and relaxing with a pervading sense of balance and lightness. Entering the atrium from the changing room, four pools occupy the centre contained within one large rectangle. The largest is the warm pool behind which lays a small bench massage pool and two smaller hot pools. At the far end of the pools, and contained within the rectangle are six ondol heated plinths made of jade. The large rectangle encompassing these features is mirrored by glass vaulted roof around the edges of which are small trees. The vaulted roof  provides natural light and has the effect of both ‘opening’ the atrium and giving it a sense of lightness. Sitting in the pools or lying on the jade plinths and being able to look up at the sky is quite relaxing but this feature is only present in the male complex.

the first floor lobby

The use of angles is continued with both square windows on the right hand wall and by the long rectangular mirrors on the sit down showers which run beneath them. Even the stand up shower mirrors, which flank either side of the entrance and exit, are square and the only point at which the domination of right angles is broken is at the head of the atrium where three large semi-circular designs mark each sauna. The saunas are an interesting speciality of Na-seong and each is jewelled. The right hand sauna is a steam room predominantly of rose quartz with additional patterns in jade. The central sauna, a dry sauna has a pyramid-shaped roof the wall as being tightly studded with black, smoky quartz. The left hand sauna, an even hotter dry sauna is walled with another gem stone and the furthest wall contains several partitions with tightly packed charcoal and cinnamon.

On the left hand side of the atrium is a sleeping room and a long cold pool which on the occasions I visited was substantially colder than other bathhouses. The far wall of this pool has large widows which overlooks the adjacent no-cheon. The entrance to the no-ch’eon, another speciality of Na-seong, is in the left hand corner but as with the nearby Saeng-hwal, this is an enclosed no-ch’eon and not the type fully open to the elements.

the medicine bath in the no-cheon

 The no-ch’eon area contains a salt sauna and three pools. The event pool has a different aroma everyday, including strawberry on a Saturday. There is a wooden sleeping area and a medicine bath which on my first visit contained a rather smelly sulphur additive. Finally, in the corner  is a cold sea bath.

Overall, this is an excellent bathhouse with some interesting features and a very pleasant atmosphere. For anyone interested in bathhouses or who simply enjoys spa lounging, Na-seong is well worth a visit.

Getting there – Na Seong Hawaii is five minutes walk from Saeng Hwal On-ch’eon. (Wikimapia link) It is close to Jinch’eon subway. From Song-seo, Lotte Cinema, it is about 5500 Won by taxi.

Na seong on the left and Saeng Hwal on the right

Daegu subway map (click to enlarge)

The x’s mark subway stations. Na-seong is on the left.

Times – Unsure, but it is not a 24 hour establishment.

Facilities – bathhouse, sports center, barber, shoe-shine, parking, screen golf.

floor guide

Jjimjilbang – no jjimjilbang.

Bathhouse (men) – around fifty stand up and

Cost – 5000 Won

Ambiance – very relaxing, light and open.

Waygukin -None

Address – 

Website

Layout (Male Bathhouse) – coming

Updates

|

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Ch’eonchiwon Jewel Sauna (천지원보석사우나) Dae-myeong, Daegu

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu, Sport by 노강호 on July 13, 2011

Ch’eonchiwon Jewel Sauna

Rating – Functional

(First visited on Memorial Day Monday 6th of June 2011). This day started out bad as I’d set out with a student to find what was supposed to be an interesting Sauna in Seong-dang-mot (성당못) area of Daegu only to end up walking to Dae-myeong (대명) where our consolation prize was Ch’eonchiwon Jewel Sauna (천지원보석사우나). On a public holiday after a busy term we were looking for something special but even if our mission had been ‘the ordinary,’ Ch’eonchiwon would have scored a very low. In fairness, we didn’t view the jjimjilbang, which may have had redeeming qualities but the bathhouse was more functional than recreational and as a result we only stayed half an hour.

This is sort of establishment would perhaps be fine if it is in your local area and suitable for washing and a little lounging but other than this it is probably only of interest as an example of older bathhouse and as a reminder that not all establishments are equal. An occasional visit to such bathhouses makes you more appreciative of larger establishments.

The changing rooms were small and though not a ‘squeeze,’ I felt uncomfortable. The bathhouse was one of the oldest I’ve probably been in and though it was clean and tidy, I missed the luxury of bigger establishments. The pools were small and consisted of a circular warm pool and event pool and two small massage pools capable of holding 4 people. The cold pool was the largest pool. There was a steam room and salt room and a sleeping area which may have had a jade floor.

Location –  (Wikimapia link ) Come out of Dae-myeong  subway station (line 1), exit 4 and the sauna is a few blocks ahead of you on the right.

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 1

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 2

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 3

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 4

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 5

Ch’eonchiwon Po-sok Sauna 6

By taxi from Song-so, Lotte Cinema, Mega Town, approx 7000 Won (£3.50)

The front of the building

Times – 24 hour

Facilities – jjimjilbang, health club

Bathhouse (men) – about 10 stand up showers and perhaps 30 sit down ones. Warm-pool, event pool, cold pool, sleeping area, salt sauna, and steam room (? I think). A sleeping area in the bathhouse and a small massage pool that had another small pool next to it (?).

Cost – 4800 Won (which may be inclusive of jjimjilbang)

Others

Ambiance – very local and functional and though clean a little grim.

Waygukin – none (a brief first visit).

Address – 대구광역시 남구 대명6동 1054-2. Tel: 053-628-8831

Website

Layout (Male Bathhouse) Pending

Updates

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Su-Mok-Won Saeng Hwal On-Ch’eon (수목원 생활온천)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews by 노강호 on July 3, 2011

생활 - 'life, living'

Rating – Luxury

(First visited on 10th June 2011. Last visited on 24th of September 2011) Saeng Hwal instantly became one of my favourite establishments. This is a large complex with numerous facilities though there is no jjimjilbang (찜질방). The reception area on the ground floor is like that of a grand hotel and is large and spacious with sofas and television for relaxation. Grouped around here are numerous shops, manicure, body shop etc, and a pine wood, traditional style café.

Shoes are removed in the reception area, the number for your shoe locker is on your ticket and the key in the shoe locker is the same number for your locker in the changing area. From reception you proceed to your respective areas, women floor 2 and men floor 3.

The men’s changing room is very spacious with sofas and television, the usual snacks and accessories such as ties, socks and toiletries. The fee here is the most expensive I’ve paid, at 6000 Won (£3) but shampoo and shaving foam, as well as the usual toothpaste and soap, are provided in the showering areas. Though there are only around 10 stand up showers, there are 54 sit-down units traversing the left hand wall beyond which is a fairly large jade, ondol (under floor heated) sleeping area with pine walls and wooden head rests (목짐). Beyond this is the no-ch’eon (노천) area which is exposed to outside temperatures.

The Saeng Hwal complex

Traversing the right hand side of the bathing complex are various facilities, a powerful cold shower, a long, two channeled foot bath, each a different temperature. This long, open fronted room has a TV screen at the far end. There then follow a steam room and a dry, pine sauna. The steam sauna was hotter than I usually experience and there were stone benches with a central cold water gully in which to put your feet. TV access was through the central window to the pine sauna. Both saunas were large and lit with subdued lighting.

The massage pooling looking towards the no-ch'eon room

Beyond the saunas lay a decent size cold pool (냉탕) with high Japanese style water-outlet under which you can stand. The head of the bathing complex has a very large massage pool (안마탕) with 8 different types of massage and around 30 individual stations. The pool is interestingly designed and curves around, removing the harshness of angular edges. This format is utilized in some of the central pools and it is interesting to note, stands in direct contrast to the design of the nearby Na-Seong Hawaii. Both establishments are fairly new and whether the opposing features of one bathhouse were transposed into the other, I don’t know but despite their polarised differences, each has its own balance and individual atmosphere.

the roof garden (pool for children open only in summer)

As you enter the bathing complex, a large cold water bath, from which you dash your body with cold water from a small basin, stands in front of you.  Beyond this a  large warm pool (온탕) with cypress wood borders. One of the unfortunate aspects of Saeng Hwal, is the pool ledges are made from a rough granite and though you will not slip on it, it doesn’t do your buttocks any good to swivel! A central TV screen sits in the pool area, as does one in the massage pool. Towards the head of the bathing area, at the far end of the warm pool and on the right, is a semicircular hot pool (열탕). It is fairly small and could fit perhaps three westerners or six Koreans, not because westerners are larger, but because Koreans are not uncomfortable sitting close to each other. Curving around the top edge of this is a  lukewarm bath (미온탕).

a rather interesting herb shop directly next door

There is one area left to describe. In the far left corner, tucked between the far side of the jade sleeping floor, and the left hand side of the massage pool, is no-ch’eon (노천). However, like the no-ch’eon at Wonderful Spa Land and Na Seong Hawaii, it isn’t a proper no-ch’eon, but one exposed to the outside temperature. Real no-ch’eon, found in hot spring resorts, are outside. The Saeng Hwal no-ch’eon however, gave me a real buzz on my first visit when it was empty. To stop heat loss, the entrance is via two doors and inside, volcanic black rock form the lower walls and floor into which two natural hot spring baths are contained. The walls are pine wood or cypress as is a very small sleeping area and a central walk way. Here, in the absence of a TV, you can find real relaxation. There are even some real plants growing in one corner.

large rectangular warm pool, semi-circular hot pool and the lukewarm pool.

I once sat in a real no-ch’eon on my birthday, 30th of December, at something like 4 am in the morning in freezing cold temperatures in a snow storm. I was on a small island on the west coast and the sea water bathhouse was the edge of the sea and with the privacy, it meant you were able to stand up on lean on the wall, and look out at the numerous small islands dotted about. I would imagine that as summer kicks in and the humidity rises, it will possibly be more comfortable in the bathhouse than in the no-ch’eon but I am unsure. Taking opportunity of the recent cool weather, I decided to visit Saeng Hwal at 11 pm. It is quite strange bathing in a pool that is still a  little busy, and where kids are still playing, at not far short of midnight. I ended up sat in one of the hot no-ch’eon pools talking to a 22-year-old lad who is about to go into the army. I transpires he is the bathhouse owner’s grandson and after chatting for half an hour or so, he disappears in order to get me some complimentary tickets. I was rather hot and sat on one of the cypress wood benches which are dotted around the bathhouse and which are a welcome luxury from the usual white plastic bathhouse furniture.  The lighting is perfect lit by one subdued ceiling lamp and one between the plants on the ground. The cool evening air drifted through the enormous slated windows and was quite a fabulous sensation. I think if the building captures the breeze in such a manner throughout the year, the no-ch’eon might be quite refreshing on a balmy summer evening.

the reception area

Are there any downsides? Well, Saeng Hwal lacks the olfactory orgasm of Wonderful Spa Land and its incredible aromas, and it’s a little short on saunas, with only two, but the no-ch’eon is an experience and the bathhouse has a very relaxing atmosphere.

Getting there –  (Wiki Map link ) (Google Map link). On the 604, Dalseo 1 and Dalseo 4,  bus routes. A short distance, perhaps 15 minutes, from Jinch’eon (진청) subway. Taxi from Song-So Lotte Cinema Complex around 5000 Won.

Daegook and Chin-ch'eon subways (circled L-R) with 'X' marking Saeng Hwal. The green dot to the right is nearby Na-Seong Hawaii Sauna

The distance between sauna is a few minutes and indeed you can see one from the other

Times – 24 hour for the bathhouse.

Facilities – parking, fitness, climbing wall, basement ‘chambers,’ health related shops, traditional style café.

Bathhouse (men) – 12 stand up showers and 54 sit down units.  A large and deep warm pool (온탕) with cypress wood sides, hot pool (열탕) and lukewarm bath (미온탕), cold pool (냉탕), and a large massage pool. Pine sauna and steam sauna and jade sleeping floor. Enclosed are exposed to the outside temperature (노천) with two hot spring pools. A separate foot bath.

Cost – 6000 Won (bathhouse)

Others

B1 – 불가마 – kiln rooms yellow earth sauna (황토방). Oriental medicine chamber, Loess chamber, snow room, DVD room, snack room,      Korean food bar and internet corner.

1st Floor – reception, shoe shine, beauty shop, nail and manicure, body shop, sofas, TV and relaxation area.

2nd Floor – Women’s sauna

3rd Floor – Men’s sauna

4th Floor – climbing wall, aerobics, weight training, fitness room

5th Floor – roof garden, children’s pool (summer), general relaxation (노천)

Various interesting shops in the immediate vicinity including a large coffee shop and a very attractive shop, the ‘Herb Store.’

reception and information

Ambiance – very relaxing.

Waygukin – one so far (not friendly)

Address – 대구광역시 달서구 진천동 446  (Google map link) Tel: 053-641-0100

Websitewww.lifespa.kr

Layout (coming)

Updates

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The Secret World of Bathhouse Interiors

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews by 노강호 on June 19, 2011

It’s always difficult finding photos of bathhouse interiors; the reasons being obvious. However, I have recently discovered how to capture photographs and render them into the correct format. The photographs have been placed in their respective locations but I thought it useful to post them here as they provide a much clearer insight into bathhouse interiors. The additions are for Goong Cheon Lavender, Migwang Spolex and Wonderful Spa Land.

the unique Dead Sea bath at Goong Cheon Lavender

the ice sauna (Goong Cheon Lavender)

Lavender’s cold water cave

Large and spacious changing facilities (Lavender)

Migwang’s sit down shower units

The warm pool with the pine, steam and ice room in the background. A large TV sits above the central circular window (Migwang Spolex)

Wonderful Spaland’s luxurious ‘milky bubble tang’ with two ‘event’ pools in the background

The tiered yellow clay room – for sleeping (Wonderful Spaland)

Wonderful Spaland’s warm pool

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Wonderful Spaland – Where Heaven Comes Cheap (원드풀 스파낸드)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu, Sport by 노강호 on June 12, 2011

on the opposite side of the roof are the large golfing nets – visible from quite a distance

 (First visited on May 20th 2011. Last visited on 15th September 2012) You know  a bathhouse can be designated ‘luxury’ when you visit on consecutive days,  even when you are impeccably clean, and during your stay spend substantially more time in the pools and saunas than engaged in ablutive processes.  It’s my opinion, but currently,  I consider Wonderful Spaland,  Wol-Seong-Dong, as one of the best bathhouses in Daegu, and certainly what I would rank as a’ luxury bathhouse’ where one goes to relax, spend time with friends and do more than simply get clean. It’s failing are few and trivial. First, it isn’t a 24 hour establishment and second, it has no jjimjilbang. I can live with that! However, it does have several floors dedicated to golf, a large fitness center and besides being impeccably clean, is fairly new.

entrance

I often joke about how bathhouse ‘event pools’ are event-less. Personally, pretty coloured water, even with a few bubbles gurgled through it, doesn’t constitute much of an event. And so often, the added aromas  are scent-free. In Wonderful Spaland you can expect a surprise and on my last visit the scent of one pool lingered on my skin for a few days.

Wonderful Spaland’s luxurious ‘milky bubble tang’ – the yellow clay sauna is on the left and the Roman mosaic sauna to the right

The tiered yellow clay room – for sleeping

The Wonderful complex is slightly on the edge of the built up area of Wol-Seong-Dong and noticeable by the green golfing nets on its roof. A large foyer on the ground floor, next to a Paris Baguette, welcomes visitors. The changing area (male) is bright and very spacious with decent size lockers, barbers and shoe shine. This is probably one of the largest bathhouses I’ve been to and there are plenty of areas to enjoy. The event pool was a ruby-red brew of intense red ginseng opposite which was ‘milky bubble bath’ with beautifully silky soft water. The bath really does look like a vat of milk. Other pools included hot (열), warm (온) and a second event pool, which on various visits has included lavender and mugwort additives.  The largest pool (안마) comprises about 25 massage facilities with 6 different types of massage. Next is the cold pool (냉), significantly colder than many other establishments and very bracing. In another corner is a partitioned area where slatted wooden panels provide privacy so that large sliding doors can be opened reducing the temperature to that of the outside. Though not strictly a no-ch’eon (노천), which is usually fully outside, this is what it is often called.  Nearby is a salt sauna (소금 사우나), small sleeping area and a fantastically intense oak charcoal bath (짬나무 / 목초탕).

The warm pool with a large overhead TV screen beyond which is the milky bubble tang (left) and two ‘event’ pool on the right

information brochure side 1

Alongside the pools are 4 large saunas: a three leveled yellow mud sleeping sauna (황토), a steam sauna (안개) and a pine sauna (핀란드). However, the most enjoyable was the Roman sauna (로만 사우나), a large circular room with a conical ceiling. The entire room, a large mosaic at the center of which is a boxed-in steam vent. The entire room and conical ceiling where either covered in mosaic or various ‘jewels.’ However, the crowning feature was the heady scent of cinnamon and what might possibly have been aniseed. The humid aroma, blasted intermittently out of the large steam chamber seemed to shift and shade between the two key notes with spells when they seemed to blend equally.

information Brochure side 2

the massage benches, one of a battery of 6 different massages facilities with 26 individual massage stations

I have to say, I have a sensitive nose and there was something almost ‘trippy’ in the Wonderful Spa Land olfactory experience so much so that I feel disappointed by its absence in other bathhouses. If you’re only going to visit one bathhouse during your stay in Daegu, this is at the top of my recommendations and while you body relaxes, you can guarantee your nose will be subject to a comprehensive and pleasurable workout.

warm pool, milky bubble tang (left) and ‘event’ pool (right) The fourth pool, of which only the edge is in sight

The warm pool with the Roman (mosaic) sauna on the left and the pine (Finland) sauna on the right

Location – Daegu, Wol-Seong-Dong (Wikimapia  link ) near Wolbae Subway. It is within easy walking distance of Wolbae subway and by taxi from Lotte Cinema in Song-so, it is 5000 Won. A taxi from Wolbae subway will be little more than 2500 Won. It is also on the route of the 655 bus (Daegu Metropolitan City Bus Guide). (The brochure  above  has a small map).

click to enlarge. Wolbae – line 1

Rating – Luxury

Times – 0500=2300

Facilities – car parking, screen golf, golf driving area, fitness training, first floor Paris Baguette, coffee shop, small restaurant.

Jjimjilbang – No jjimjilbang

Bathhouse (men) – around 65 sitting down and twenty standing up

Cost – Bathhouse  – 5500 Won

Others – hairdressers, shoe shine, massage and rub downs, various seasonal discounts, numerous televisions.  About a five minute walk  from the ‘meat fest’ barbecued buffet restaurant, Gong-Ryong (공룡 – ‘Dinosaur.).

Ambiance – new, impeccably clean, busy at peak times, wonderful aromas permeating the whole complex, comfortably bright but with darkened yellow mud sauna and quieter, exposed to outside, no-ch’eon (노천)

Waygukin – none

Address – Wol-Seong-Dong, Tel: 053-565-7000

WebsiteWonderful Spaland Website Link

Layout (Male Bathhouse)

Coming!

Updates

Wonderful Spaland – a Little Less Wonderful. Update 1 (October 2011. Bathhouse Ballads)

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Pray it’s a Foreigner Serving Your High Tea

chocolate fingers – as British as high tea

(Originally published March 15th 2011) Here’s something to ponder. You’re going to be forced to stick your nose up someone’s butt. They might be clothed, they might not. The only choice you have in the matter is what nationality they will be.

Podcast 75

When I used to train and teach taekwondo in the UK, sweaty sessions often produced brown watery stains on the butts of students’ white suits. I used to refer to it as ‘bum lick’ and basically, after rubbing shit around your arse  smearing it clean, residue remains which when mingled with sweat produces shitty water which then stains your pants. Despite the hideously hot summers in Korea, I have never seen ‘bum lick’ on kids taekwondo pants probably because their diet is substantially different. The moment you convert to loading up on pizza, big mac, bread and pastries plus a churn load of milk, cheese, butter and cream and it takes five minutes and half a roll of toilet paper to smear yourself clean.

Now, I’m not into backsides but if I were forced to stick my nose up someone’s crack, but could choose the nationality of the backside, it would most definitely be Korean. I base my choice on two reasons, firstly: a Korean diet leaves less mess and secondly, Koreans are simply more fastidious about personal hygiene.

guess where they’ve been?

With a culinary repository heavily based on soupy type recipes, Korean food never hangs about in the gut too long and when it is expelled it is ejected with such force that suction drags out any loitering debris.  Typical British food however, loiters in the intestines and has to be squeezed out of the body like toothpaste.  It passes through the body at such a slow pace that the entire intestinal track contains one enormous fecal sausage, a gigantic colonic conga which congests the entire gut like an enormous traffic jam as it slowly worms its way downward. Kimchi jjim, or a bowl of bean curd soup however, is ingested and processed at such speed that by the time it is blown out not only is the consistency unchanged but so too is its temperature.  With such force is it ejected from the body that it cleans your backside as it departs.   And I have to say, cleaning-up up after a Korean meal is not much different to dabbing your mouth after a drink of water whereas a British diet can only be compared with trying to smear-up a muddy hole.

despite what you might hear, most Koreans do shower before getting in a pool

And you know most Koreans wash their backsides thoroughly because  you can watch them doing it in a bathhouse. Many people in the UK still use bathtubs as a primary source of personal hygiene but how can you wash your arse in a little swaddling tub that binds your knees together and prevents easy access. Worse, the same water than cleans your body, that contains dead skin cells, hair, and other scud, the same water that rinsed out your backside and crotch, is then wallowed in. Yew! What a filthy habit and one almost as revolting as fitted carpets or cotton handkerchiefs. British showers aren’t much better being taken standing in restrictive bathtubs or in shower cubicles that provide as much freedom of movement as would a coffin.  Have you ever seen a westerner clean their backside?  And how do western kids learn how to clean themselves in that area? Are they just left to learn for themselves or do they simply let their underwear soak it up? I assume most westerners clean out their arses but I’ve never seen them doing it.

Nothing annoys me more than those who condemn Korean bathhouses, especially if they’ve only been a few times, and consider them places of moral and physical corruption or seething with rampant contagious infections; or those who like to bash Koreans because they use chopsticks in communal bowls of food or because they once had to use a crappy toilet.  Yes, of course somethings in Korea seem ‘dirtier than they do back home but traveling shouldn’t just spotlight the inadequacies in your host country but should also expose ones you hadn’t considered back home. Last year I came across a commentary by a westerner who complained:

And my 02. worth. Korean bathhouses? Dirty. Think about this for a minute.
The hot and cold pools. The water is NOT filtered. You have people who scrub their body and DON’T rinse off and still jump into the pools. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you have also. Leave the sauna, sweat pouring off you and hop into the cold pool! I have never seen a sauna in Korea that filters the water. It gets changed once or twice a day. Japan? Yes the water is filtered and cleaned. Not Korea. I know a few people who caught the crabs in these saunas. The blankets in the sleeping rooms are not washed daily. The towels that the saunas give you to dry off usually are not washed in hot water. I’m not bad mouthing Korea saunas, I have been to a few but most are dirty. Even the fancy looking saunas that are expensive to enter do not filter the hot/cold pool water. People are peeing in them also. I’d think twice. The saunas are good things but many are lacking customers who use good hygiene. If you are lucky enough, you might have been using one when it was being cleaned. I was and never did return.

Actually, I don’t totally disagree! People, me included, go from the various saunas into one of the pools, bodies sweating, and occasionally I see kids get straight in a pool without showering and some bathhouses are cleaner than others. I’m sure some people must pee in the water and I’ve certainly seen people pee in the showers. Is the water filtered? Well, I know water is sucked in through vents and in other places blown out. Is this filtration? I’m no more aware of filtration systems than I would be in British swimming pools where people often swim without showering, and if they do it’s only in a cursory manner, and in which they do urinate. I’ve even seen a turd floating in a British swimming pool but most of us aren’t too bothered about pool hygiene because chlorine sanitizes not just the watery environment but mentally as it leads us to believe the environment is biologically sanitized.  British pools might be bug free, but are they clean? Would you wallow in a cesspit if it were purged with a bottle of chlorine?

with a chlorinated pool one can wash their muck off in the water

Without doubt some infections are passed in bathhouses, ‘red eye’ (conjunctivitis) being one and possibly a nasty infection of the testicles but even a mild infection of the bollocks is nasty as it results in them needing to be groped by your GP.  Personally, such risks I consider small and I’m happy to gamble infection for the pleasures bathhouses provide.  In years of using bathhouses I only ever had one infection and it’s debatable where it would have been contracted. I can identify a number of practices I consider unsavoury in Korea, some examples being how individuals might dump garbage at collection points which isn’t bagged, or dipping odeng (오댕 -fish cake snacks) into communal soy sauce bowls, a habit which I think might actually have almost phased out.  Then there is the habit many kids have of coughing in your face without covering their mouth with a hand.

beware the communal soy sauce dip – great for herpes

Some restaurants, especially small ones, have dubious cooking areas but once again I’ve seen just as bad in the UK where kitchens are usually hidden from public view.  Several years ago I attended a course which was hosted in a prestigious yacht club. When the caterer didn’t turn up, we took it upon ourselves to use the kitchen to make tea and coffee and what we found was alarming; filthy fridges containing curdled milk and atrophied onions, meat placed above vegetables and shelves tacky with sugary residue on which cups were stored upside down. I made a complaint to the local authorities which resulted in the restaurant being fined several thousand pounds. The head chef, who was subsequently sacked, had previously owned a swanky sea food restaurant in the same village.  Though lots of westerners will bemoan the state of many public toilets, I’ve seen far worse examples in the UK. I taught in one school where kids would deliberately urinate on the toilet floor, and even, on occasion, defecate beside the toilet rather than in it. There’s good and bad in all cultures but I will admit to being more lenient in terms of standards when I am eating something that costs next to nothing than I am when confronted with bad practices in an expensive, pretentious eatery. When eating out is expensive and an exception rather than the rule, as it is in the UK, I don’t expect Faecal Fingers or dirty anything.

an ultra-violet sanitizer in my last Korean high school

Generally, I do not think standards differ too much between Britain and Korea except in terms of personal hygiene, which unfortunately is one of the most important criteria. It’s great having no rubbish lying in your streets or chlorine in public bathing water but it makes little odds if the community around you are filthy fuckers. Several years ago, research by a British University revealed that between 6 and 53% of city commuters had faecal matter on their hands. (BBC News 2008) Apparently, the further north you go in Britain, the higher the rates of contamination.  This is especially alarming when you consider British people will usually fully unwrap a burger before eating it and are much more likely to put things like fingers and pens in their mouths. I’m the first to admit I unwrap my burger fully in order to consume it and find comfort in fingering the bun but Koreans always eat it from the wrapper even after washing their hands.

my students find this a dirty habit

A person’s hands are the prime tools of first contact, they touch people, open doors, activate buttons and knobs, finger and prepare food and much more; they are the tools which, with an opposing thumb, not only define us as primates, but facilitate and make possible our interaction with the physical world.  You can have all the brains in the world but without thumbs – you’re screwed! At the other end of the scale, your bum-hole does very little and generally spends a large proportion of the day sitting on its arse. If a person fails to sanitize their hands after a dump , if they can’t even be bothered to keep clean such an important tools, what horrendous microscopic offenses are lurking in that dark and humid crevice. And then there are the peanuts in bars which in the UK are usually contaminated with multiple traces of urine.   My Koreans students often call me ‘dirty’ if I stir my coffee with a pen or put a pen end in my mouth and they are unaware that so many Brits have faecal fingers.  Now I know why a number of British confections focus on ‘fingers.’ I have rarely met a dirty Korean student and the pissy urine smell that I’ve noted in numerous infant schools in Britain certainly never existed in the Korean kindergartens in which I taught.

I suspect much of the animosity towards bathhouses is simply the result of nudity; some westerners clearly perceive bathhouses physically ‘dirty’ because they consider nudity morally dirty. As one commentator wrote: I’ve also been here since 2001 and have never gone to a bathhouse. I’m not into sausage fests. I work out every day and shower at home. The room of soapy Koreans just doesn’t appeal to me. For some westerners, all it takes for a clean environment is a piece of cloth over a cock and buttock and suddenly the environment is clean; splash a bit of chlorine around and we will happily swim in each other’s neutralized dirt. In 2008, when I first read how widespread faecal matter was on the hands a large chunk of its population, I made a resolution to be extra vigilant in terms of personal hygiene and not only do I wash my hands after using the toilet, but I sanitize them with a spray or anti-bacterial hand cream. I have not once broken this resolution!

 

there are times when nudity is undoubtedly preferable (Borat)

It’s pointless getting defensive about our lack of hygiene, for years the British have been the butt of jokes about bad teeth. I once meet an Australian who told me he’d been taught Brits changed their trousers once every few weeks and I’ve seen the skid marks in changing rooms and smelt the effects of using underwear as blotting paper, in British schools. If you’re British at least, observing how fastidious Koreans are about personal hygiene should prompt you to realise your own cultural failings. What’s important is that you learn from such observations and of course, the process goes both ways. Koreans are also fastidious about dental hygiene and I recently read that brushing teeth three times a day over decades can lead to receding gums. A number of sources now suggest only cleaning teeth with a brush, twice a day.  As I said, there are good and bad practices in all cultures.

to contract -E-coli!

Okay, so now you’re going to be forced to stick your nose up someones butt. It’s time to choose. What nationality are you going to pick?

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Greenvill Sauna – Banwoldang, Jung-gu, Daegu

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews by 노강호 on May 31, 2011

First visited on Thursday 19th of May 2011. Greenvill is very easy to find given its location to the main road downtown and the nearby Banwoldang subway. Though situated in the Samjung Greencore Apartments (삼정 그린코어) complex, it is only a five minute walk from the subway itself. At the bottom of this post you will find comprehensive instructions on locating the premises.

Greenvill Jjimjilbang in Banwoldang

The changing facilities are large and spacious and the staff friendly. I was visiting on a lunchtime and there were only a few customers but I would suspect it might be busier in the evenings. The bathhouse itself is not large but it bright and fresh with numerous murals on the walls and interesting features, for example, a large dolphin stands in the corner of one pool, as if rising out of the water. The bathhouse (male)  itself is approximately an ‘L’ shape with the main pools in three corners. There are probably around twenty stand up showers, giving some guide to the more experienced bathhouse user, as to the size of the premises, and close to these the hot (열), warm (온) and event (이벤트) pools. I often joke about the event pools being uneventful but this one was more exciting and a large ‘poster’ on a nearby pillar forecast the weekly aroma schedule: I was there on a Wednesday so the aroma was ‘grape’ and beside looking like a gigantic glass of wine, there was a pleasant hint of grape juice. Other aromas, changed on a daily basis, include menthol, lemon, chrysanthemum,  mugwort, ginseng and pine.

In the far corner is a small massage pool (안마탕) with six massage stations. Beside this are stairs leading up to an open planned, infra-red lit, sleeping room. In another corner was a large and very cold, cold pool (냉탕) with attractive blue tiling and a large mural backdrop. There are two saunas: a steam sauna  and a spacious pine sauna with various levels of decking and room to sleep.

In all, a very new, clean and relaxing bathhouse though perhaps not providing the most extensive facilities, it is certainly well worth a visit especially  if you are in the vicinity or need a place to stop  overnight.

Location – The Wikimapia site already had a marker for Greenvill but it was not in the right place. Locating it exactly is difficult as it is within the apartment complex so I took the liberty to update the map. However, the complex is easy to find and I have given some extra pointers. I used a taxi to Banwoldang and my directions are from the subway on the side of the road where traffic is heading downtown and the massive Donga building is directly in front of you.

stand in directly in front of Donga with the subway exit on your right. This photo is slightly around the corner from Donga

Behind you you should see a flower shop with a small road leading up to an apartment complex. At the foot of the apartments on the hill you should see the Buddhist symbol as there is a temple here.

The subway on your right and Donga directly in front, the flower shop is behind you. Start up this road…

The Buddhist temple is on the top of the hill at the foot of the apartments

Go up to the temple and turn right in front of it. You will then see the turning on your right taking you into the Samjung Greencore Apartments (삼정 그린코어) complex. A small square sits in the middle at the opposite side of which you will see a flight of stairs. Go down these. You are now going past the sauna, it is actually on your right and when you reach the foot of the stairs you will find the entrance.

one of several entrances – the other is via the apartment car park

If you come out the exit and take a right and a right, or a left and a left, you will easily find you way back to the Donga building area. Coming out and taking a left and left will take you past a string of Buddhist shops. (Wikimapia link )

Times – 24 hour

Facilities – barber, shoe shine, large changing room with TV.

Jjimjilbang – includes an ice room, DVD room and various other facilities.

Bathhouse (men) – around twenty stand up and perhaps 30 sit down ones.

Cost – 4.500 Won for the bathhouse

Others – Basement car parking. Right next to Banwoldang subway line and on the main bus route (405). An interesting area with many shops and department stores.

one of the numerous Buddhist shops in the area

Ambiance – bright, airy with a subdued infra-red sleeping area.

Waygukin – first visit – none

Address – 대구 중구 남산2동 665번지, Daegu, Jung-gu, Namsan-2-dong 665. Tel:053-427-6665.

Website

 

Updates

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

FURTHER REFERENCES

There is a very useful review of Greenvill at Jjimjilbang and Saunas in Korea (October 2010)