Elwood 5566

Korean Bathhouse Worldwide

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture by 노강호 on April 20, 2016

USA (Click photos for link to homepages)

USA. Oregon, Jade Sauna

King Spa Chicago and Dallas. USA

Inspa Castle, New York

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Korean Bathhouse and Jjimjilbang Tips

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture by 노강호 on April 20, 2016
Home Spa World, Apsan, Daegu. Bathhouse

Come on in!

 

Ready to take that plunge? No doubt, many will have no worries entering a bathhouse but if the experience is likely to stress you, here are some tips.

BEFORE YOU GO

1. Sometimes, fitness centers have adjacent bathhouses and jjimjilbang. If this is the case you can use the sports facilities a few times in order to familiarise yourself with everything before using the bathhouse.

2. Male and worried about willy size? Don’t be! I’ve seen toddlers with cocks bigger than mine and no one pays much attention. Or you could try  adding an extra centimeter by trimming surrounding hair. I once read that every forty pounds lost, assuming you are that fat to begin with, increases the appearance of size by one inch. One the other hand, if you’re as fat as I am an extra few stone would supply enough lagging to provide an overhang sufficient to hide it completely.

WHEN TO GO

1. Choose a quiet time for you first encounter. Early morning, eg. 5 am, though anytime before 7am on the weekends is good. Alternatively, if the establishment closes, a good time to attend is on a weekend a couple of hours before closing time.

2. Avoid public holidays,  unless you’re prepared for a full house and avoid both  ‘play Saturdays’ (놀토) when there are no schools, and school, university vacation periods. Sunday is often the busiest day.

WALKING THE PLANK TO THE POOLS – this is the scariest part

1. Keep a watch on. It’s really useful as a diversionary play thing should you feel uncomfortable. If you fiddle with it nonchalantly as you walk to the baths, it will help distract you from the glances of other punters.

2. On your first encounter you’ll probably head straight for the bathhouse complex blotting out everything on the way. Try to remember to pick up a towel and a wash cloth, usually located around the complex entrance. This can be used the same way as your watch when you get stressed or ultimately, to bury your face in.

3. Male and worried about willy size? Give your dick a quick stretch before setting off on the walk of shame.

ONCE INSIDE – you’ve made it!

1. Get straight under a stand up shower and get wet. The water will occupy you as you gather your senses for some exploration and familiarization.

2. Remember, if you head straight for the showers which are situated at floor level, you will have to sit on a bucket sized seat. All bathhouses have regular, standing showers which provide a good vantage point to familiarise yourself with the bathhouse layout and practices and don’t necessitate sitting in an undignified position.

3. Soap, towels, toothpaste are all provided. If you drop the soap and find this embarrassing, park your arse in a corner before bending down, or  with your knees together, bend with the  knees and not from your waist. Alternatively, rapidly kick the soap into the drain and ignore it.

4. When you get up from the bucket seat, roll slightly onto one butt check and then onto the other before standing up as this breaks any pockets of suction between your arse and the seat.

5. Don’t stand up after sitting on a towel without whipping the towel from under you as you stand. Failure to do this will cause it to stick to your butt.

GETTING OUT

1. If you remember to take a towel in with you can use this to sit in a convenient spot and dry off prior to leaving. On your first visit you will probably want to escape quickly and this will be prolonged if you are dripping wet. If there is an ice room, five minutes sat in this, especially in summer, will quickly dry you off but this procedure has a detrimental effect on males.

2. If you get to this point, well done!

Good luck! I’d love to hear other suggestions!

I apologise for their being a lack of tips for females but as of yet I have never been in a female bathhouse. Suggestions welcomed!

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Bathhouse and Jjimjilbang reviews

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture by 노강호 on April 20, 2016

Reviews and info

I don’t intend this page to provide any more than brief information on my local amenities. I am too lazy to go further afield. Hence information, always changing and subjective by nature, is largely confined to Daegu and in particular, the Song-So area. When I use a facility I record basic details and perhaps some of my feelings towards the establishment. Remember, things change rapidly in Korea and even if an establishment remains around for any duration you can guarantee some features have changed.

I have provided a wikimapia link for most establishments.

If you are interested in the design of bathhouses I have a page with detailed plans that provides an easy means of comparison.

I notice on search results numerous inquiries into gay activity in bathhouse and jjimjilbangs, etc. I will add a note if I see anything but being useless at such behaviour and not even looking for it, my pages are not the place to look for such information.

Feel free to post any observations.

CLICK PHOTOS FOR LINK TO ITS REVIEW AND FURTHER INFORMATION

DAEGU

Daegu subway map (click for legible resolution)

LINE 1(SOUTH TO NORTH)

DAEGOK 대곡 LINE 1

JINCH’EON (진천) LINE 1

The Su-mok-won Saeng Hwal On Ch’eon complex

Na Seong Hawaii

WOLBAE 월배 LINE 1. WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF WOLBAE SUBWAY.

Wonderful Spa Land. Sports, golf, jjimjilbang and a ‘milky bubble bath’

SANGIN LINE 1


WOLCHON LINE 1

SONGHYEON LINE 1

DAEMYEONG LINE 1. (MIGHT BE A BIT OF A WALK – BEST GET A TAXI FROM HERE)

Home Spa World, Apsan. Very large and luxurious with swimming pool, fitness, golf, yoga and jjimjilbang.

CH’EON-CHI-WON PO-SEOK SAUNA (천지원 보석 사우나) 1 MINUTE FROM EXIT 4

Ch’eonchiwon Po-seok Sauna, health club and jjimjilbang

BANWOLDANG (반월당) LINE 1 AND 2.  WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF SUBWAY

Greenvill, Banwoldang: jjimjilbang,

DONG DAEGU STATION (동대구) LINE 1. WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF MAIN RAILWAY STATION

Goong Jeong Lavender near Dong Daegu Station: cave pool, roof garden, Dead Sea Pool,

LINE 2 (WEST TO EAST)

DASA (다사) LINE 2.  WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF DAESHIL OR DASA SUBWAYS

Hyu Lim Won: jjimjilbang, large massage pool, new facilities, parking,

SONG SEO (성서) LINE 2. WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF SEONG-SEO INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX SUBWAY

Migwang Spolex: large complex, golf, sports, jjimjilbang, mogyoktang, ice rooms, squash, billiards,  parking, associated buffet restaurant

Hwang So: intimate bathhouse and large jjimjilbang, sport complex, next to Mega Town’s Lotte Cinema Complex

Han Song, near MacDonalds. Older, friendly establishment with salt sauna

YONGSANDONG (용산동) LINE 2.  WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF YONGSAN SUBWAY

Dream Sauna, next to Home Plus: bright, salt sauna and yellow earth sauna

Sam Jeong Oasis Sauna. Behind Lotte Castle:

Jade Sauna in Yongsandong: small, very clean,

OUTSIDE DAEGU 

(KYONGSANGBUKDO) 경상북도

Kayasan Hotel with a beautiful bathhouse with scenic views

DECEASED SAUNAS

Po Sot, Song-so

INCHEON

Airport Mokyoktang and jjimjilbang.

 

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Korean Bathhouse Links

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture by 노강호 on April 20, 2016

where foreigners fear to tread

Posts on Bathhouse and JJimjilbang Female Perceptive

Naked in a Jjimjilbang: For a woman’s perspective on using a bathhouse (which is mistakenly described as a jjimjilbang). Excellent account.

Dragon Hill: This famous jjimjilbang, situated in Seoul, is one of the largest and plushest in the world.

First Contact: An interesting account of a trip to  a bathhouse, from a nun!

In a Korean Bathhouse: an account of a trip to a bathhouse.

Horror in the Bathhouse: This is a well written account of a first trip to a bathhouse which has a special allure as it was written in 2001 when the reception to waygukin in a bathhouse, was quite different from that of 2010.

Conquering the 쨤질방 – actually the author is conquering the 목욕탕.

Who Would Have Guessed (March 2011) from Away We Go – a first time account

Experiencing Dragon Hill Spa (Dec. 2010) from Gone Seoul Searching – a review of Asia’s largest bathhouse and jjimjilbang.

Tales of the World: Get Naked, from The Waiting (2012).

Posts on Bathhouse and Jjimjilbang.

Male Perspective

Getting Clean (Feb. 22nd 2009) From: Tony in Korea – another account of a first time visit to a bathhouse

Saunas and Jjimjilbang in Korea (March 2011) from, Jonny on the Road

A Peek into a Seoul Bathhouse (April 28th 2011) from –  The Korea Times. A touching account of a Korean grandfather’s bathhouse experience which both traverses generations and culture.
Sleeping at Incheon Airport
(April 25th 2011) From Jonny on the Road – an insight in what  looks to be a luxurious experience.

Bathhouses in Seoul – My Favourite Jjimjilbang (2015) – let Christine take you on a video tour of the jjimjilbang.

Blogs Dedicated to Bathhouse and JJimjilbang

JJimjilbang and Saunainformation on various facilities and events.

General Information on Jjimjilbang

36 Hours in Seoul (NY Times)

First Time Jjimjilbang: How to visit a Korean bathhouse. A good comprehensive insight into using a jjimjilbang. (2015 – Lonely Planet)

Korean How-to Guide: Jjimjilbang in 5 easy steps. An step by step guide and some links to a few central location jjimjilbang. (2013)

A Look at Korea’s Culture from the Bathhouse (2014) The New York Times extensive expose of Korean bathhouses.

How to use a Korean Spa (2015) From Eat Your Kimchi, a popular vlog series which many expats in Korea use.

Korean Bathhouse and the Children’s Age limit Dilemma (2013) An interesting account from Koreabang.

Links to Bathhouse Information Globally (Non Korean)

There Is a separate page for Korean style bathhouses outside Korea

The American-Korean Bathhouses: A Review

A Funhouse Floating in a Korean Spa (2009). A reveiw of Inspa World, College Piont, Queens, New York. This review is from the New York Times.

Spa Castle, New York. Their website revamped in 2016.

Links to Bathhouses in History

..

Filched Comments on Bathhouses Culture

POSITIVE

1) I’ve been here almost 6 years and haven’t gone. No nerve. Plus I’d rather go with someone who knows the ropes than faking it by myself. I’m not much into public nudity – I hated public showers back home too…at the gym etc

2) I was deeply squeamish about ‘exposing’ myself in group situations in Canada, all my life. As if there was something indecent about it — a weird indoctrination that ‘private parts’ must be kept hidden. Plus the fear of lurking glances & anxiety that ‘average’ didnt measure up! Well phooey on that nonsense. From my first visit to the bath houses here I’ve felt liberated from self-consciousness about my body. It is what it is & I’m comfortable in it. Most Koreans are very relaxed about same-sex nudity & discretion is the norm — everyone just goes about their own business.
(Maybe a little different on the women’s side? Friends tell me Korean women can be quite open in their scrutiny & comments, but most of my friends just shrug it off.)

It’s a neat feeling when you can be naked in front of strangers & not give it a second thought. I was in a spa the day Kim Dae-jung flew to North Korea to meet Kim Jong-il, we were maybe 50 naked men & boys standing glued to the tv as DJ walked across the runway & the two of them shook hands. We all spontaneously applauded & several older men wiped away tears. Unforgettable.

Or the time I was in a hot-springs showering next to a western friend on his first visit & I’d forgotten my shampoo. The look! & then the laughter, when I asked him, Can I bum a squirt?

3) I was exactly the same before…then my roommate took me to the bath house in our neighborhood and I was hooked. The nudity thing wears off fast, and its rejuvenating. I go every day to my local bath house and once a week to the spa in Busan (onchinjang). Its just the best.

4) I love the bathhouse. Same, at first, I was so hesitant… Just to be naked in front of so many strangers. And yes my chest is noticeably larger than any Korean woman I’ve ever met. So there were body issues, but I went with a friend one time and have no qualms about returning (and have since that time).

The first two times I didn’t wear my contacts (because of all the steam), so it was actually good not being able to see anything in close focus. And not being able to notice if anyone was really staring. But the funny part was, I was stared at less than when I have clothes on. A little akward meeting another foreigner there, but I’ve experienced weirder things in Korea. Had a blast befriending some young girls and playing around and showing them some swimming moves (in the cool pool).

So my advice. You’ve got to experience a bathhouse AT LEAST once while in Korea. If you don’t like it, then fine. But I’m sure a lot of people will find they love it and go back again and again. So try to go when you first get here and not towards the end of your contract, because you will probably regret not going earlier. I know I did.

5) Give it a try just once and you’ll be hooked. I’ve been here since fall of ’99 and I think it was 4 years later I finally went into one. Worked at a hagwon with both a health club and a sauna in the basement of the building. Didn’t have to teach until 2 pm on MWFs, so guess what I did 3 times a week? Yep, first one, then the other … best way to be nice to your body. Well, second best, anyway …

6) I wish the staff knew enough English to tell the foreigners who insist on wearing their underwear in the pools to go away tho.

NEGATIVE (By predominantly Pumpkin People)

1) What about the staring? I get stared at enough with my clothes on. I hate to think what it would be like once I’m naked. What are other chicks experiences? my boss has said she goes every Sunday, and has invited me to go with her, but i am rather nervous about wandering around naked with everybody pointing and looking at me.

2) The staring does not go away; you just don’t notice it after a while. There is nothing worse than having light-coloured pubic hairs and a larger than average “you-know-what” and having pansy Korean men staring at and talking about your hardware like a drooling Liberace fan. You want to see a white man’s “yoo-hoo”? Check the Internet you pyontai… I wouldn’t go anymore…

3) I heard a story about this chick from South Africa who went to a bath house in Seoul. She was scrubbing away when an ajima pulled out a camera and took a photo of her!!! That story has well and truly put me off going to a bath house!

4) I’m with the Wall on this one: I used to go pretty regularly, and loved it, but having guys check out and comment on my tackle every single time became a bit much. They wouldn’t even look at my face for Christ’s sake. So I’d stare back in the same fashion. It is true, you know, what they say about Asian measurements . . .

5) And my 02. worth. Korean bathhouses? Dirty. Think abut 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.

6) I’ve always been a little apprehensive about the whole thing of going to a spa. All of the other waygooks are talking about how there’s the whole “people comment on my ‘Western-sized’ tool”. This causes apprehension because as a waygook, I have a smaller-than-average. So, I may get some “why is he so small for being white?” comments. It’s all silly insecurity but alas…

7) I’ve also been here since 2001 and have never gone. 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.

8) I went once and was the opposite of being hooked!

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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.

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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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)