[Seoul] ~ Jjimjilbang Experience on my Last Day

Forever in my memory bank is that last-minute brave to be naked with the rest  – 10.26.14

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Siloam Spa

I meant to stay overnight in this Korean spa but I chickened out upon reaching the spa the night before. It looked shady to me for some reason. It was situated in a place that is unfamiliar to me, that was one; exterior also looked a little different from what I remember to have seen online. However, unable to let go of this to-do, I found myself still going there early the following morning. 

It turned out my worry was unfounded because while shady from the outside, it looked like a safe place from the inside. However, since majority of its patrons are locals, it was easy for a foreigner like me to be intimidated because I did not know how the entire thing works. I nonetheless tried to fit in by not asking too many questions and just allowing myself to experience it as local as it could be. To those willing to try this experience, hope my stories and snapshots below can serve as a rough guide to yours.

First was of course paying for entrance. This was done at a counter wherein person-in-charge gave me a key to a locker where I can store my shoes. I then gave back the key which she replaced with another key which was meant for the clothes/bag locker as well as shirt, shorts and a towel.

At least in the jjimjilbang I went to, there was no divider between said counter and the locker room. I was then immediately shocked seeing females, both young and old, walking (half-)-naked in the locker area. I remember being lost for the first few minutes right after changing clothes. A walk-around then later made me quite familiar.

Funnily though, what I first saw was the common bath area (which I initially did not intend to go). I had a hard time looking for the bigger common areas I have seen images of in Korean dramas and blogs. As I was still in my ‘less-questions-asked’, it took me about two rounds of the area before sticking to my gut and trying out that door I saw on a certain wing.

I was greeted by this stairway leading to who-knows-where. Since I felt I had nowhere else to go, I thought to self that that could lead me that common area I was looking for. Luckily, I was right. It was only later that I finally got the hang of it. It was that quite narrow stairway that gives access to all of the spa’s floors. It was not confusing at all.

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Let’s change costume, people

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And here you go. It felt like being in home clothes

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5 floors of experience

– from temperature-controlled rooms to a restaurants or food stalls to recreation rooms

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It was an early time of day when I arrived so people were sleeping. This reaffirmed that indeed, jjimjilbang is a safe place to sleep in. I found my spot, took some souvenir photos (and for this I apologize for fellow guests whose picture I took with me).

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My sincerest apologies. I just wanted to capture

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This was the stairs I was talking about

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Apart from the ‘lie-anywhere’ vibe, I enjoyed hopping across rooms with varying temperatures depending on the kind of effect you wanted. I was too lazy to read the room ‘specifications’ plastered on each door but each room had its unique temperature and air controls, with corresponding effect on the body.  and effects on the body bannered on its entrance. It was initially difficult for me to anticipate level of hotness (or coldness) until I have been to various.

I tried going to the extremely hot temperature room but I remember not being able to stay for more than 5 minutes because I was sweating profusely and I couldn’t seem to breathe well. My admiration then goes to those two guys (one even an old man) who seemingly had been in the room much longer when I entered. They were completely still seated in their respected spots, with the old man had his bottle of water with him. Hmm, those must be some kinds of technique to tolerate such kind of heat.

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One of the first rooms I tried is the ice room

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:-\

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Common area that is not as crowded as I was seeing in dramas

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I forgot the name of the room but I call it the red room. Not for the slightly claustrophobic because one has to get in those space the size of a casket

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I wonder whether that light has to have some effect

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A sample room description

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Boy these tiny rocks were hot! Amazingly though only for the first few minutes. The skin gets used to it!

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Again managed to steal some photos

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When tired from the room-hopping and suddenly craving for food or beer, decided to check out their food center. Despite other diners’ seemingly enjoyable experience, I decided to skip on the decent meal and instead got myself a can of beer, which I enjoyed over some Korean local TV.

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Breakfast beer (as my boyfriend would call it)

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Stomach still full for such heavy meals

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Because I read online that it is common practice for Koreans to eat this kind of egg when in jjimjilbang and this they have to open by cracking in their head

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Capital CHILL.

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Of course uncaptured but capped this spa experience being courageous enough to strip naked in the public bath. It was uncomfortable at first but I just kept repeating on my head that no one really cares because we were all naked anyway. 😀

This was quite an experience that I would not mind going back, probably would even stay overnight.

How to get try that jjimjilbang experience : 

I went to Silloam Spa in Seoul. To get there, take the subway and go down at Seoul Station Exit 1. Walk for a few minutes and on a corner on the right is Silloam Spa (T-shirt spelled it this way but what is in the entrance is “SILOAM”).

Place is open for 24 hours, with entrance fees that differ depending on age and time of day with night rates slightly higher (around 13,000 Korean won or roughly USD13 for adults after 8PM).

Some of the rooms tend to be very hot that I do not recommend bringing in gadgets or even your wallets. Hence, for valuables you have with you while making the rounds of the common areas and heated rooms, small lockers are available on both sides of the main common area. They also have free water, by the way!

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