Elwood 5566

Migwang Update, August 2011

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

The first thing needed after returning from dirty Britain, was a lengthy session at the bathhouse, this time one of my favourites, Migwang Spolex, in Song-so, Daegu.

The warm and hot pools in the female complex

I’ve only been absent three weeks but it is sufficient time for numerous changes to take place. Most noticeable was the level of lighting in the male bathhouse. Previously, the lighting was fairly subdued but now yellow and light blue ceiling panels have increased the levels substantially and the overall effect is much brighter. At first, I didn’t like the brightness but it is growing on me. A new mural has replaced an old one on a wall of the cold pool and most pools have had their bottoms re-tiled.

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Advertisements
Tagged with:

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

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Collected Bathhouse Designs

Posted in bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Uncategorized by 노강호 on May 29, 2011

(Originally published in September 2010) A collection of bathhouse designs that can be used for contrasting design and facility. Some plans are being added to and they are not to scale – they are very rudimentary but will give those with no knowledge of bathhouses an idea of their layout, approximate dimensions and the amenities available. Click plans for establishment reviews.

DAEGU

Daegu subway map (click for legible resolution)

LINE 1

WOLBAE 월배 SUBWAY, LINE 1,

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

Greenvill Sauna in the Greenvill Apartments, Banwoldang

Greenvill Sauna bathhouse design. Male

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

GOONG JEONG LAVENDER

Goong Jeong Lavender bathhouse design (male)

LINE 2

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

Hyu Lim Won JJimjilbang. Dasa (Closest subway Daeshil)

Hyu Lim Won, Dasa. Bathhouse design (male)

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

Migwang, Song So, Close to E Mart

Migwang Spolex. Bathhouse Design (male)

Hwang So. Next to Mega Town and Lotte Cinema Complex

Hwang So, Song So, Bathhouse Design (Male)

Han Song Bathhouse, Song-So. Near MacDonalds

Han Song, Song So. Bathhouse Design (male)


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

Dream Sauna, next to Home Plus

Dream Sauna. Bathhouse design (male)

Sam Jeong Oasis Sauna. Behind Lotte Castle

Sam Jeong Oasis. Yong San Dong.Bathhouse design. May 2011

Jade Sauna in Yongsandong

Jade Sauna bathhouse design. Male


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

Wonderful Spa Land. Wolbae - awesome!

Wonderful Spa Land. Bathhouse design (male)

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Bathhouse Boxers

Posted in Diary notes, Martial Arts, taekwondo by 노강호 on April 25, 2011

Sunday evening and Migwang bathhouse was again packed to watch Samsung Lions (Daegu’s baseball team) from the comfort of either the ‘ebente-tang,’ (today infused with ginseng), the hot pool, or the large jacuzzi. It would have been possible to watch it from the cold pool but it was  full of noisy students. At one point I moved to the small ‘ebente-tang’ during a commercial, when it almost empty and as soon as the game restarted, it suddenly had 9 occupants.

The moment I arrived at the changing rooms I spotted the numerous foreigners. There were 9 of them and they were all very fit and athletic with washboard stomachs and compact physiques. I wasn’t sure whether they were middle eastern or Eurasian but assumed they were probably Islamic as they all wore briefs or even jjimjilbang clothing in the bathhouse complex. I’d heard about the reception people get wearing underwear in the bathhouse and though they attracted much attention, no one seemed to take objection. However, at one point I did see one of the grumpy old attendants trying to explain that they should take their pants off.

Ilkin Schabazov

When one sat next to me I learnt they were the Azerbaijan taekwondo team, here to train at Keimyung University in preparation for the World Championships in Gyeongju, between May 1st and 6th. This morning I googled ‘Azerbaijan taekwondo’ and two of the men I’d seen I was able to research. One was Ilkin Schabazov, two times world champion for his weight division. Another fighter I recognized but couldn’t identify.

unfortunately, I couldn't find his name

Only one spoke English. How do you like Korean food? I asked. He replied, Pizza, McDonald’s and fried chicken!

Arirang video on World Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, May 2011

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Baseball, Boners and Mid Term Exams

Posted in Bathhouse, Diary notes by 노강호 on April 23, 2011

a little like this but with ten raucous kids and a television

Even though I’ve been in the busiest bathhouses, this weekend really wasn’t enjoyable. For many students, the midterm exams are over but for others another week of cramming into the early hours of the morning can be expected. Migwang wasn’t the busiest I’ve known it but it was certainly the nosiest. Samsung Lions, the Daegu  home team were playing one of the first games of the season and a small crowd of men and boys sat in pool nearest the large television. Naturally, there was an air of excited anticipation frequently vented by loud cheers or despondent sighs and as usual, it was friendly and relaxed rather as one might expect with English cricket or tennis and nothing like the revolting displays of tribal machoism associated with British football.

but what I really needed was this…

My favourite pool is probably the cold pool (냉탕), even in winter and unless it’s the peak of summer, it’s usually the quietest; today however, it was packed, ‘packed’ meaning about 12 occupants. Unfortunately, they were mostly older students intent on messing about. With my elbows resting on the pool ledge, I was constantly splashed and on two occasions had to ask boys to move away. And for the first time ever, the choppiness of the water annoyed me as there was a wave that regularly lifted my knees off the pool floor. Then there was the noise! Yes, I tried to console myself that they had probably finished exams and were letting off steam but it I really wanted to relax.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen boners in the bathhouse but today three boys had them and what was funny was they didn’t even try to hide them. If I got one I’d have to hide myself in the water, preferably cold, until safe to come out but they weren’t the least embarrassed.

My relaxation was interrupted on numerous occasions first by a teenage boy who was sat with his father and wanted to talk.  I tried to chat to his dad but he wasn’t in the least interested. Then a boy of nine introduced himself to me and shook my hand. His name was Pete and his dialogue consisted of; ‘Hello, my name is Pete, Nice to meet you. How is your family?’ After this he started firing random words, ‘notebook,’  ‘desk,’ etc. Eventually, he got bored and disappeared but not before four other boys, all aged around 13, began asking where I was from and if I liked Manchester United. Then I had to arm wrestle each of them in turn during which they scrutinised the hair on my arms. One actually started tweaking some hairs on my back.  And of course, as this is happening all the occupants of the pools around me are staring though it is not in the least unfriendly. I was subsequently rescued by a friend whose wife owns a coffee shop.  Whilst we were talking I noticed another foreigner and we acknowledged each other. He sat the pool opposite me but left very quickly. Usually the bathhouse numbers dwindle after 6 pm but today it simply got busier and even by 9 pm it was still crowded.

 

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Bathhouse Basics (14) The Massage Pool (안마탕)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse Basics, Health care by 노강호 on March 20, 2011

one variety of massage pool (안마탕)

The an-ma-tang (안마탕 – massage pool) appears in various guises. In some bathhouses this can be a large pool with a wide variety of hydrotherapy ‘stations.’ In such bathhouses large massage-baths will provide water massage to every part of the body including the soles of your feet. Usually they consist of some form of cubicle in which you stand or lay and after activating a button, are subject to powerful jets of water which will massage a particular area. Smaller pools produce massage jets at a lower intensity and over which you have to maneuver whatever part of your body is in need of treatment.  Sometimes the pool has only one activation button and so the experience is shared while other pools have a number of individual births in which you lay and your own activation button.

power showers, ideal for relieving tense back and neck muscles

These pools are great for treating muscular problems though for spinal related aches and pains, cold pools often have a very powerful shower that once activated you can move under to allow your spine and back to be thoroughly pummeled. There is a great variety in the nature of massage pools ranging from ones that are little other than jacuzzi, to ones that seem to vibrate intensely and rumble you internal organs producing an effect that feels like your are about to produce an enormous fart, to others which are powerful enough to give you an enema should you inadvertently put your backside in the line of fire.

individual massage ‘births’

In Song-So, West Daegu, Migwang  (미광) has a small massage pool but an excellent power shower in the cold pool. Hwang-So (황소) has a small  ‘rumble’ type pool with 4 individual ‘berths.’ Meanwhile, the new jjimjilbang in Dasa (다사), Hyu-Rim-Won (휴림원), which is a short taxi or subway ride from Song-So Industrial Complex, has a very large and complex massage pool.

relaxing

an-ma-tang (안마탕)

and with a window view

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Bathhouse Basics (13) – The Ice Room (어름방)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Basics, Daegu by 노강호 on March 11, 2011

chill!

I don’t use the ice room (어름방 or 어름굴) much during the winter but in summer it is a heavenly sanctuary. An  ice room, which can appear in both a jjimjilbang (찜질방) or in a bathhouse (목욕탕), is a bit of a specialty and many do not have them. However, the chances are that one exists in your area. In the Song-So area of Daegu, Migwang (미광) has ice rooms in both the jjimjilbang and bathhouse (mogyoktang).

In the summer months ice rooms are usually iced up and scrapping off the ‘snow’ and rubbing it over your face is an exhilarating experience more so when you appreciate that outside the temperature is that of a muggy sauna.

a large jjimjilbang ice room

chilly

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Migwang Bathhouse on a Sunday Morning

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, Gender, seasons by 노강호 on August 1, 2010

Bathhouse view over city

I’ve been in Cambodia for a few days and today was the first opportunity in over a week to wallow in the e-bente-tang (이벤트탕). I was visiting Migwang jjimjilbang in Song-So, Daegu. Though a Sunday morning at 8.45am, it was the quietest I have known it and quieter than the odd occasions when I have been in the bathhouse at 3 or 4 am.

Today it’s 35 degrees and even at 8.15 the memi were screaming from passing trees. At this time of year, with the screaming in chorus, you can hear them in a taxi with the windows closed. As is usual in hot weather, I head straight for the cold pool once I have had a shower and shave, but today I noticed something very special. I often joke to my friends about the e-bente-pool and tell them how I lay waiting for them to start spinning or jiggling up and down, but they never do. The very term ‘e-bente’ is a bit of an anti-climax and in the English use of the word merely adding a smell to the water doesn’t really constitute an ‘event.’ An ‘event’ implies something out of the ordinary or special. The very first time the complex management added an aroma to the water constituted an event which subsequently became a normal feature and a bit of a ‘non-event.’ Today however, I noticed the water has been coloured deep pink to complement the ‘herb’ aroma. So, by-passing the cold pool, I head straight for some pink pampering. Hardly much of an ‘event,’ but after waiting for over a year for something to happen, anything is better than nothing.

As I’m wallowing, I suddenly become aware of other subtitle changes. The ceiling has been cleaned and new pattern section as been placed above the central baths. In the cold pool, I discover a ledge has been built against the far wall and is big enough to sit on. One this, at intermittent spaces of about a meter, big enough to park my fat arse, are various devices which look like various kinds of fountain; I can’t tell as I don’t think it has been finished yet. Above these are multi-coloured light fittings. It looks like the lights and fitting may comprise a new water feature. Migwang is obviously doing well  financially as every holiday new items miraculously appear. Several months ago the gigantic tropical islands photos surrounding the cold pool were replaced with new ones, the tiles in the high-powered shower replaced with ones of sunflowers, and a long strip of jagged paving stone, to walk on and stimulate the soles of the feet,  a torture Koreans’ seem to enjoy, was installed.

Bathhouse overlooking city

By 11 am, the bathhouse is busier and I’m treated to a display of some guy doing a complete taekwondo workout. Another guy, cooling in the cold pool, directly behind the guy exercising, is treated to a peek up his back passage when, on several occasions, he  stretches   downwards to put his head between his knees and place the palms of his hands flat on the floor. In the e-bente-tang a teenage boy and his dad are caressing each other. The dad is sitting between his sons outstretched legs while his son pummels his shoulders and massages his back. They wrestles in the water  for a while, wrapping their legs around each other and at one point, the boy bites his father’s toe. When they watch the TV together, I notice how close they sit to each , almost like lovers, their heads are almost touching; I notice them later on when they are walking between the pools either hand in hand or with their arms around each other. I wish I could have had such intimacy with my father; I don’t think I ever massaged his shoulders  or scrubbed his back and sitting that close to each other, as adults, even when clothed, would have been uncomfortable.   If you see anything sexual in such a reflection you’re clearly a dirty waygukin with a perverted mind!

Ohhhhh! Summer’s heavenly haven

There is another teenage boy with his dad, probably about 14 and he has got the most enormous dick: if you watch the faces of other men as the boy passes them, you can see them peek at it. When they’re sitting in the e-bente-tang, the boy makes several visits to the ice-room where collecting a handful of ice, he takes it back into the pool and commences to massage it over his father’s head. In typical Korean fashion, his father makes loud noises to express his pleasure at the sensation.

Creative Commons License
© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

New York, New York

Posted in Daegu, Entertainment by 노강호 on July 4, 2010

New York, New York, is a franchise restaurant  where the menu differs substantially between one restaurant and another.  Currently, New York, New York, Song-So, Daegu, is my favourite western style restaurant and it does an excellent pork steak topped with pineapple and blueberry sauce, and one half of a delicious, almost roast potato.  I think it’s probably pan-fried but it comes close to roast. Since getting pally with the owner I now get 1 whole roast potato. And, the Korean fried rice (벅금밥) compliments the pork chop and blue berry very well. Yes’ it’s still ‘pusion pood’ (fusion food) but only just. The meal is usually served with kimchi and pickles but as these appear on a side dish, if you push them to one side, you can almost imagine  you’re back home. If the ‘pusion’ element doesn’t bother you, you can try the Korean rice wine (막갈리) cocktail, 4000W (£2) and served with strawberry and pineapple.

Ground floor

From my experience, apart from a burger bar, New York, New York is the only restaurant I’ve eaten in which doesn’t provide chopsticks. Eating kimchi with a fork is weird, like something out of The Twilightzone. The ambiance is great, if not a little fake, with plastic geraniums but the extensive wine racks contain wine, the lighting is suitably subdued and as always the army of staff are attentive and generous. Considering the price, around 8000W (£4), for a very nice meal, a few plastic geraniums don’t bother  me and I console myself with the fact they are actually in  bloom. This  week a waiter asked if I had any requests for the sound system. Ah, the music!  Why is it that places with tasteful interiors go and ruin them by splurging shit music into the air. A rap version of, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, was slowly beginning to irritate me. The choice of music can be a little variable and  swing from rap crap to Mozart and Sinatra, in an instant. Overall, the atmosphere certainly suits Sinatra. Then, on the window ledges are real branches of wood, standing in large glass vases filled with chunks of cookie and cream-looking rock and topped with water. The plastic plants are the sort that are realistic enough to provoke both conversation and  are difficult to distinguish as fake , especially with real branches. Last week I noticed the branches had all sprouted leaves and yet still had plastic botanical Borg implants. Quite bizarre.

Bizarre Borg technology – plant plastic pushion

New York New York, Song-So is a few minutes walk from the Song-So Industrial Complex subway station. Go  past E-Marte, turn right at the end of E-Marte on the crossroad, and it’s on your left half way up the hill and equidistant between Migwang Sporlex , on the crest of the hill, and E-Marte, on the cross-road. (Wiki Map Link) THIS CLOSED DOWN IN JUNE 2011!

Conversely, for some spacious swank, try the New York, New York, (Wedding) at Susong-gu, Daegu.

Susong-gu – swanky

Entrance

A monk (수님)

Beautifully designed

Water feature

The restaurant is very large

Entrance fountain

Creative Commons License
© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

The Song So ‘New York, New York’, closed in 2011

Migwang Spolex (Jjimjilbang), Daegu, Song-So. (미광스포랙스)

Migwang Spolex (미광, 성서, 대구)

First visited February 2009. Last visited September 28th 2012. Migwang Spolex is my favourite local jjimjilbang, bathhouse sports complex. Migwang has five stories of amenities including squash courts, billiard rooms, and a very well equipped and friendly gymnasium. It is very clean and has well laundered towels which smell fresh. The bathhouse, a large one, is one to enjoy and relax in rather than to use  solely for washing and cleaning. Sunday afternoons and holidays can be very busy. The gym is very well equipped and spacious and home to many Muscle Marys, especially in the evenings. In summer, the ice rooms, of which there are two, one in the bathhouse and one in the jjimjilbang, are a refuge from the summer heat and humidity. I particularly like the  changing areas as there are very roomy and with small poofes on which to sit while putting on socks’ etc – I hate having to do that sat on the floor or while trying to balance on one leg. Friendly staff.

The ‘event’ and warm pool (male)

The warm and hot pools in the female complex

Women’s facility

Unlike many other businesses in Korea, many which simply border on existing, I think Migwang is doing very well, financially. I’m told it has over 1000 members with a monthly membership. More to the point, I notice Migwang regularly installs or renovates features during major holidays. A new ceiling and what looks like a new water feature is currently being built (October 2010). However, the water feature seems to have stopped  mid program.  In April 2011 new poofes appeared. Migwang is always impeccably clean and the staff very friendly – oh, apart from some grumpy old guy!

Migwang’s sit down shower units

This is what the British call a ‘poofe.’

The male ‘powder’ room

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

Plan

Migwang Spolex. Bathhouse Design (male)

The stand up showers (male)

The women’s cold pool

Location – five minutes walk from the Song-So (성서) industrial Complex subway station and just 2 minutes walk from E-Marte. Come out E-Marte, turn right, turn right again at the cross roads and walk to the crest of the hill where the road bears left. The complex sits on the turning on the left hand side. (Wiki Map link )

Times – 24 hour jjimjilbang and bathhouse. Gym open from around 6 am Mon-Sat until around 11 pm. Sundays 8 am – 8 pm. Double check opening and closing times as they occasionally change.

Facilities – 2nd floor, reception,  women’s bathhouse, women’s hair dressers. 3rd floor jjimjilbang, 4th floor men’s bathhouse, 5th floor gymnasium. Also squash facilities, martial arts, aerobics classes etc.

Jjimjilbang – ice room, various saunas, sleeping rooms, children’s play area, refreshments and food, small pc room, televisions, etc.

Jjimjilbang area

Bathhouse (men) – around fifty stand up shower facilities and around the same number of sitting down shower units, event pool, (이벤트탕), hot pool (열탕), large warm pool with jacuzzi (온탕), large cold pool (냉탕), small tepid pool (안마탕),  ice room, steam room, 2 jade saunas, relaxation area, heated sleeping area. Large changing room with television and sofas. Televisions are also located in front of the e-bente-tang and hot pool, and in one sauna room but which can be viewed via from the other saunas.

Cost – bathhouse 5500 Won, jjimjilbang 7000 won. Monthly all-inclusive (including the gym) once a day usage, 100.000 Won (£50).

Others – hairdressers, massage and rub downs, parking, associated buffet restaurant opposite (Arden Hills), and Screen Golf Range. Various seasonal discounts. Very close to E-Marte and from there the Song-So Industrial Complex subway station, and surrounded by various restaurants and some excellent coffee shops Vincent Van Gogh, Hands Coffee, Sleepless in Seattle). The barbers now seems to offer massage, haircut and shave all being a euphemisms for a hand-job – cost 30.000Won. Barber’s is closed on Monday and residency of the barber’s now seems to shift between the actual barber and the ‘girls’

Ambiance – relaxing, mid-level lighting, subdued television, very clean, very comfortable, friendly.

Waygukin –  I’m gradually seeing more and more westerners here. For a year I didn’t see any, but in the last year I have seen a total of 5. Some just shower, while others use the pools, some are friendly, some clearly do not want to speak.

Address – Daegu, South Korea, 1250-14번 지 (behind E-mart)

Website – (Migwang Spolex Website Link)


Migwang Updates

Migwang on a Sunday Morning (August 1st 2010.)

Migwang Update August 2011

Creative Commons License©  林東哲 2010. Creative Commons Licence.