During my lunch break I saw a video of Conan O’Brien going to a Korean Spa for the first time. His over exaggerated reactions in the Spa made me giggle as it reminded me of my first time. The best part of the experience was getting scrubbed from ear to big-toe by a middle-aged Korean lady in black lacy underwear. Here's my tale...
After being persuaded my friend Aamena, Kendra (another brave soul) and I dropped our winter clothing and fears. With nothing but a hand towel to hide my bits, we stepped into the wonder that is Shinsegae's Spa Land.
You’ll hear many tales of the amazing baths, saunas and rooms you can relax in, but for me, the Scrubbing Room was the most memorable.
After entering the public bathing area with Kendra and Aamena, I booked a scrubbing-slot and took my naked self for a soak while waiting my turn to get scrubbed.
While trying to embrace my complete nudity (and the nudity of those around me), I was finally called for my scrub. I scurried towards the room and was met by a middle-aged woman in her black underwear. She took my little towel and threw it to the side as I whimpered a little and tried to stay focused. She pointed at the bed with a plastic cover and I slowly hopped on.
As I tried to not slip off the already soapy slab, a woman I had chatted to earlier was being scrubbed on the slab next to me. Her eyes were closed, she had a look of calm on her face and all the while another aunty was scrubbing her vigorously.
I laid on my back, arms tucked close to my bare body and legs firmly closed. I felt like a sheep going in for the slaughter. My eyes darted from the methodical movements of the scrubber at the next bed, to the dimly lit lights above me and before I knew it, my friendly scrubber threw warm water over me. Were the odds going to be in my favour?
Beginning at my face, my scrubber wiped and then applied a face mask. I kept thinking that her belly button was waaaay too close to my face as I could almost see the detail lining her panties! She had seen too many naked souls to bother about my space issues and continued working. Her professional attitude and swift movements started to quieten my anxious mind and before I knew it, I started to enjoy the experience.
From my face, she began to work on my feet and legs. Her hands, hidden in hand-loofas began to scrub the surface of my body. Legs were bent and separated, toes were parted, and my tummy got a good working too. I tried to not pull away from the pressure of each hand as she scrubbed away dead skin cells and any inhibitions I had left. When it came to my bosom, neck and shoulders, I found it hard to stay dead still as this was getting more familiar than a family Christmas lunch. I think I squealed a little each time she threw my arms behind my head to scrub my sides, or when she pulled my legs apart to access the inner thigh.
After being flipped onto my tummy, the scrubbing lady left the soles of my feet, legs, derriere, back and neck smarting. While my cheek connected with the plastic bed, I noticed small greyish, almost noodle-looking particles on the bed next to me. It then dawned on me: these were my dead skin cells. There’s something disgusting and satisfying about knowing just how clean you are, but knowing exactly how that dirt looks.
After warm water was tossed over me once again, I was handed a new white towel by my scrubbing-pro and billed 20 000won. I left her feeling pretty proud of myself and feeling oh-so-clean! Click here for more info about Shinsegae's Spa Land, if you pluck up the courage to go!
Have you been for a scrub in a Korean Spa? Was it awkward for you?