Week 6: 찜질방, Changdeok Palace and Studying

The week was actually pretty boring. We had club practice everyday from 7 – 10 pm to prepare for our upcoming performance in May and I still had volunteering on Thursday, but besides that there was nothing super exciting during the week.

The weekend started on Friday night when my friends and I went to the 찜질방 (jjimjilbang) or sauna. Going to a 찜질방 is quite the experience. When you first enter the 찜질방, they ask if you want to just do the baths or if you are going to stay overnight. Then you pay for what you want and get a set of clothes. At every 찜질방, there is a set for males and a set for femals. At the one we went tom, the girls were a shade of red-orange and the boys where a shad of mustard yellow. Once in, you grab a locker for your shoes and take the key with you and all your stuff upstairs (for males) or downstairs (for females). Then you go in and excahnge your shoe locker key for a normal locker key. Put all your stuff in and strpi and off to the baths you go.

I will say that we were all a bit hesitant in the beginning. We’d take off our shirt and look around to see what everyone else was doing. Then one of us just went with it and then suddenly everyone was butt naked. It’s an interesting experience to say the least. You are definitely feel like everyone is staring at you and for the first few moments it’s probably true. Especially if you stand out noticeably (either by the language you speak, how loud you are or how different you look), but in the end you get used to it.

The first things you do when you get into the bath part of the 찜질방 is to shower and clean yourself. They have little stations and you grab a stool and a tub (if you want one) and sit there and clean yourself with the little showerhead available. You can scrub each other’s backs and wash your hair. They have a little store for you if you want one time shampoo, conditioner, scrubbers, etc. Once you’re all squeaky clean you head to the baths. There were multiple there, but when we went they were cleaning a couple of them so the temperatures we had available to us was 38 C (100 F), 42 C (~108 F) and a few in between. They also had a cold water one. i can’t remember the temperature but it felt like ice when we walked in. It was refreshing after you got over the initial shock. In the bath section there were also a couple of saunas. I walked into one and walked right back out 5 minutes later, because that’s all my feet could take while I was standing there. The other sauna was way better and the ahjummas (older ladies) who were already in there were so nice and moved aside so my friend and I could lay down for a bit.

After the baths, we got out and changed before putting on some face masks. Hey, if you’re gonna go take 2-3 hour long baths with saunas and stuff, might as well go the whole mile and do a facial mask. Finally ready, we all headed up to the main floor. This floor is where we sleep for the night so we all grabbed a mat and pillow from the corner and all gathered around. There’s a convenience store area on this floor and here you can buy snacks and drinks common in a 찜질방, like specially cooked eggs, ramen, 식혜 (sikhae – sweet rice drink) as well as soft drinks and beer. You could also go to the outdoor saunas that are coal fired, but none of us ended up going. We all just hung around and talked. Some of us fell asleep and some of us stayed awake all night. Supposedly there was a super loud snorer, and some people had troubles because they weren’t used to sleeping on the floor. Since this 찜질방 had a노래방 (noraebang – karaoke room) in it, apparently someone was also singing opera at 4 am. This is when I’m glad I’m a deep sleeper~

The next morning, Paige, Anne and I got up earlier than everyone else. The other two to go enjoy the baths again, and me because I had plans to go to Changdeok Palace ( 창덕궁).

Changdeok Palace was a lot of fun. I went with a  group of exchange students led by local Yonsei students as part of the Yonsei Global One Shot program and we took a tour of the Secret Garden. It was really beautiful and a nice little escape bfrom the bustle of the city, even though the palace is located within the city. The garden was more of a natural forest. They just let the trees and plants grow and there was path that weaved it’s way through the garden. There were litle rest houses and everything. All in all it was extremely beautiful to see it. The main palace part was really gorgues too and I pulled of my first jump shot. 😀

Saturday night, Mars came out and we hung out in Hongdae for a bit. We visitied a multi-room which is prettly cool. They are just little rooms you can rent and the one we went to, you could play wii, sing karaoke, watch movies or TV shows, or use the computer. They had cushions to just relax and you could get snacks and ramen.

Sunday was study day since midterms are coming up and so we headed out to Hunch Brown to get some work done in the cafe. The drink I got was a delicious lemon tea, that I ended up refilling with water 4 times because that’s how nicely the lemons retained their taste. Then we grabbed dinner and some of us headed to cafe round 2: Tom N Toms. Unlice Hunch Brown where I was actually productive, I got very little work done at Tom N Toms. It might just be that the atmosphere there is a little different, but I think if I want to be productive, that is not the cafe to go to~ Either way, it was still a lot of fun~



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