My jimjilbang (찜질방) experience
Have you ever thought about what a jimjilbang (찜질방) would be like? You hear about people going to them all the time. They're even in many Korean dramas. Jimjilbangs are basically saunas. Some saunas you can stay over night in a communal room for a small fee. You can choose to use just the sauna though. I got a chance to go into one whilst in Daegu.
The one I went into was called Greenvill, just off the Banwoldang metro station. It looked friendly as you walked down the stairs. It was a bright green colour. Once you go in, there is a lady at a desk. You can choose to stay over in the jimjilbag for 8,000￦ or just use the sauna for 5500￦. I opted for the latter. Of course I have no photos of the sauna room, I'd look like a creepy pervert if I did.
Before you go in, you take your shoes off and put them into a locker. You then walk through to the changing area. There is a lady behind another desk which sells snacks, face products etc. She gives you another key in exchange for your shoe locker key. If you're lucky, there will be no one else there...however for me, there were about 4 ajummas butt naked. One young lady was drying off her grandmother's private areas.
After getting my locker key, I stood with clothes on for a good 5 minutes. I took the easy stuff off first, so pants and top. Then for some silly reason, the lady assigned two people lockers right next to mine. I was nervous. It took me another 5 minutes to fully take off my underwear. I did it as soon as the two next to me did. It was nerve-racking.
After stripping butt naked, I scooted real fast through the doors to the sauna room. Holy crap it was hot (not the sexy hot). As you walk in, there are showers, which I used straight away to hide my embarrassment. They're also used to clean off so you don't contaminate the pools. There were 5 different pools, 2 steam rooms, a massage/scrubbing section where someone can scrub you down and rows of showers with mirrors, where people go to pamper themselves and scrub all their dead skin. Everywhere there were butt naked ladies. Mostly older woman. Some younger ones too. Overall there were about 20 people in there. People used loofers to scrub their skin. I saw many of them scrubbing their private areas pretty hard. Some were scrubbing each other too.
|Not to scale. Layout of the sauna room.|
Now to the pools. There was a pool which was 43 degrees with no one in it. I went there first. It was the hottest pool. It was so hot. I stayed there for a good 10 minutes. Mostly because I was nervous. Then an ajumma stepped in too. I left and went into the 46 degree sauna. Holy moses, it was so hot you couldn't see. I stayed for less than 2 minutes, it was not comfortable at all. There was a lady already in who looked like she was about to pass out.
Then I moved myself to the 37 degree pool. It had a jacuzzi style bubbling in the middle. It was tolerable. I stayed for about 15 minutes just watching people (weird since they were all butt naked). I then moved to the 31 degree pool. It was considerably cooler. There were 6 jet stations there too. So you stand in one section, push the button and bubbles appear. The first one was a downward jet of water to the neck area. The second one was your feet, it tickled them, I tried not to look like an idiot. The third one was the lower body, jets of water shot into my back. Next was the upper body. Then the sides and the last one was a random mix. I stayed in this pool for another 15 minutes.
I then left for the changing area and realised I had no towel. I was too embarrassed to ask for one so I stood by the big mirrors blow drying my hair for 15 minutes while blowing my body discretely. Once dried, I rushed to my locker, shoved my underwear on and let out a sigh of relief.
Despite feeling all of this anxiousness, I can't wait to go back. I'm pretty sure it'll a be a breeze next time.