Elwood 5566

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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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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Bathhouse Basics – The No-ch’eon (노천)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse Basics by 노강호 on July 2, 2011

a wintry mountain no-ch'eon (노천)

No-ch’eon are one of my favourite types of facility though my experience of the proper type is limited. A real no-ch’eon is a bathing facility fully exposed to the elements and often using a hot spring as a source of water. They are rural and located in scenic settings and though some are male and female together, and require bathing costumes, others involve being au naturel. Usually, no-ch’eon are an external part of a bathhouse or a jjimjilbang so if it is part of the jjimjilbang it will require a costume, and if part of a bathhouse, you go naked.

winter, snow and ice bring an added dimension to the no-ch'eon

I doubt there's any poolside sleeping here

I first experienced a real no-ch’eon in the winter of 2007, while staying in a small island off the west coast. We visited a sea-water bathhouse on several occasion, one of them being 3 am in the morning and from the bathhouse you could go outside and enjoy either a hot or cold pool. Sitting in a hot pool in mid December during a snow storm at 4 am in the morning was an awesome experience and all that was missing was the makalli or champagne.

The appeal of the no-ch’eon is the combination of the elements, scenic settings and nature and to this purpose the ‘furniture’ can only be but natural. You can expect to see plenty of cypress pine (hinokki) with even the water vents being  made of wood. I don’t yet know the name for these but they are a fairly common feature in bathhouses. Hot spring water, a natural source, is commonly used and coastal no-ch’eon will use sea-water.

does anyone know the name or origin of these?

this no-ch'eon (enclosed), is at Na Seong Hawaii, Daegu

For an experience predominantly governed by the whims of the weather, the partially enclosed no-ch’eon falls way short of the real thing however, they too, can be very enjoyable when a cool, or cold wind drifts across your skin. These no-ch’eon tend to have large, milky-glassed windows or even sliding doors beyond which probably lays slatted wooden panels. Usually built on the corner of the building, they are ideal for trapping and directing any breeze.

wish I was there

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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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