Posted by: evedlewis | February 18, 2010

My First Jim Jil Bang Experience – AYYEEEE!!!!!

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OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!  So – I FINALLY had my first Jim Jil Bang experience!!!!!!!  Jimjilbangs are public bath houses, and they are extremely popular in Korea.  Everyone gets naked and takes baths together!!!!!!!!  YAYYY!!!!!!!!! 😉  This was an amazing experience with some awesome moments and a few surprises a long the way.  I have heard about the famous bath houses since I arrived, and now I’m hooked on them already.   

Joy and I went to Seoul late on Friday night and arrived around 2am.  We saw a group of friends on the way down, and we all talked on the bus during the entire trip to Seoul.  The bus was relatively empty, and we quickly became the “rowdy” group of foreigners in the back.  The bus driver and a Korean passenger yelled at us, and asked us to “please be quiet”.  Really??!?!?!  On a public bus???  We didn’t realize there were rules about talking on a bus.  We tried to lower our voices to be polite, but the bursts of laughter were a little hard to control.  We all enjoyed talking and connecting on the bus, arrived in Seoul safely and went our separate ways once we arrived.

Joy and I checked into my favorite place, the PJ Hotel near Itaewon for the first night.  We both got some great sleep and woke up on Saturday ready for some breakfast.  Maya told us about a place near Gangnam station called “Butterfingers”, so Joy and I began our mission to find this place.  We had never been there, and hoped we could find this breakfast haven without much trouble.  Jasmine and Alex were also headed there, so we all met up for brunch.  Fortunately, the place was relatively easy to find, and we were VERY EXCITED to be eating our first PANCAKE BREAKFAST from a RESTAURANT in over 5 months.   We placed our orders “ahead of time” while waiting about 20 minutes for our seats.  I was checking out the plates on nearby tables and couldn’t wait to enjoy my stack of pancakes.  I really liked that we placed our orders before having a seat – this made the wait time for the food a bit shorter.

The restaurant was lovely and the food was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!  Joy and I quickly decided that we would have to come back a second time before leaving Seoul. YUMMMMM!!!!!!!!! 

Next up was a visit to the Dragon Hill Spa near the Yongsan Train Station.  The jim jil bangs are 24 hours, so you can literally stay there all day and all night if you wish.  We stayed there pretty much all day until the evening for about 5 hours.  The entrance fee was 12,000 won – (about $12.00) – and we could decide if we wanted to pay for extra services once we got inside.  Sorry no pictures!!! 😦 

The building was MASSIVE with several rooms, levels and various “activity” options.  I felt like I needed a paper directory and a tour guide to get around.  There are co-ed areas and separate areas exclusively for men and women.  Joy, Kandace and I looked around before deciding what to do.  We saw a room with women napping on the floor, we saw the huge spa area with naked Korean women AND CHILDREN everywhere, and we saw some specialty rooms that offered massages and other treatments like acupuncture and VAGINAL CLEANSING!!!!!!  WTF??!?!?!?  I was a bit surprised about the children running around and the vaginal cleansing service. 

I decided to start with the bath area (more like a “pool area”) and then get a body scrub and massage after soaking.  Joy and I soaked in the hot baths for several minutes, we dipped in the freezing cold bath, then we made our way to the hot sauna room, which was 80 degrees.  The soaking areas are huge and can accommodate about 10 – 20 people in each one – they are really more like shallow pools.  There were about 10 hot soaking areas and 1 large cold area.  The cold area was deeper and long enough for swimming laps.  All the hot baths have statues with bubbling water shooting out and jacuzzi style jets.  I made sure to sit under the statues and in front of the jets to feel the powerful bursts of water on my back and neck.

I was completely soothed and relaxed after soaking in the different areas for about an hour.  Joy and I made our way over to the “Scrubbing Area” next.  I paid $50 for a full body scrub and a full body oil massage.  I watched the other women getting scrubbed down, and I was a bit concerned about my skin being irritated by the exfoliation.  Joy and I waited for a few minutes until they had an empty table for us.

So – the scrubbing takes place in a COMPLETELY open area.  There are older women in lingerie who put on scrubbing mitts and clean your body like your momma would.  The scrubbing didn’t hurt one bit.  They do not shy away from your private areas, and they are sure to thoroughly clean every part of your body a few times.  After scrubbing you down with some exfoliation bath salt, the women cover you in a rich soapy lather and send you to the shower. 

After showering, I headed back to my table for an oil rub down.  My Korean masseuse did a great job with massaging my body.  This was my first massage by a woman.  I prefer to be massaged by men, but granny in the black underwear did a pretty good job.  When the massage was over, my skin felt as soft as a newborn.  I was completely relaxed and understood why the women were upstairs in the “napping room”.  I was ready for a nap, but decided to shave my legs before I left. 

The other huge area in the women’s area is a “self-service” scrubbing and cleansing area.  There are rows of chairs and vanity areas with a shower head attached for women to clean and scrub themselves.  Many women were also scrubbing their friends, their family members and their children.  The bath house is truly a family affair.

I soaked a little more, shaved my legs and washed up once more before we left the bath house.  I felt totally refreshed, and I plan to go back to another bath house soon.  I want to compare the different spas.  Dragon Hill is very popular place in Seoul, but we also have 24-hour jimjilbangs in Jeonju.

The ladies and I spent the rest of the weekend eating delicious food, shopping and relaxing.  Joy and I also went to go see the movie “Valentines Day”, which we both enjoyed.  I also spent some time at the Seven Luck Casino and did pretty well on the Black Jack Tables. 😉 

We found an okay Mexican Restaurant, but I’m still on a mission to find some really good Mexican food in Korea.  We saw an “On the Border” while we were shopping in the Coex Shopping Mall, but we weren’t ready for a meal at that time.  I will be going back to eat there during my next visit to Seoul.  The Coex Mall was ridiculously huge, and we had a great time shopping there.  We also spent some time shopping in Itaewon. 

As always, the vacation was not long enough.  Joy and I reluctantly came back to Jeonju on Tuesday morning, and went right into work on Tuesday afternoon.  We didn’t get to any clubs this time, and we didn’t do much sight-seeing.  Maybe we can cover more ground during our next three-day weekend, which is coming up soon.  We have March 1st off to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday (CORRECTION!!! March 1st is Independence Movement Day, a day commemorated to honor the declaration of independence movement amid Japanese colonization in 1919. Buddha’s Birthday is in May!!! Thanks Suzy!!!!)  I will likely go back to Seoul.  Each time I go to Seoul, I do something different, so it never gets boring to me.  Joy is already planning to move to Seoul.  She has already decided that she will live in Seoul if she stays another year in Korea. 😉  I don’t blame her, and I may decide to do the same!!! 😉

Here are some sites with more info about these great places in Seoul:

Dragon Hill Spa (Right Next To Yongsan Train Station): http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=610092

Butterfingers Pancakes (Right Near Gangnam Station): http://wikimapia.org/11055773/Butterfinger-Pancakes

Butterfingers Pancakes in Ap-gu-jong (Apgujeong): http://wiki.galbijim.com/Butterfinger_Pancakes

Coex Mall: http://www.coex.co.kr/eng/visitors/coexmall.asp

Seven Luck Casino (It’s not only for foreigners – not sure why it says that on the site!!): http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=495643

PJ HOTEL:

http://www.agoda.com/asia/south_korea/seoul/pj_hotel.html?type=1&site_id=1410012&url=http://www.agoda.com/asia/south_korea/seoul/pj_hotel.html&tag=0ced4dc9-c979-42c7-9376-65bed45c3cda&gclid=CO-IuoWz_J8CFSEbawodUV7LmA

Ramada Seoul: http://www.ramadaseoul.co.kr/eng/default.asp

Agra Indian Restaurant (In Itaewon): http://www.nextstop.com/p/FL2gVtDTGGg/agra-indian-restaurant-myeong-dong/

Mexican Place:  I would not recommend.  I will post a recommendation once I find a better spot!! 😉

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Responses

  1. Nice to know you had fun.
    Btw, March 1st is Independence Movement Day, a day commemorated to honor the declaration of independence movement amid Japanese colonization in 1919.
    Buddha’s birthday comes in May. 🙂

    • REALLY??!?!? OH MY!!!! OOOPS!!! Thanks for the correction!!!!!!!! Gettting my “M” months confused I guess!!! 😉

  2. That sounds like you are having a ball. I would love to do something like that too;meaning live in another country for a while. We could live in Europe but I need to feel like I have some security before I up root my kids,thats the only thing….But forreal,u had me laughing because I imagined your facial expressions when u went in the bath house and saw the women and the children and the old lady scrubbing u down like ur momma would.lol..and the grandma in the black undies…SMH….too much. I love the stories and I can live vicariously through them! Bye for now

    • Ha ha ha ha!!! Thanks Kenyata! I’m having a really good time over here. Sometimes I find it hard to balance work and fun!!! 😉 I think working will become ESPECIALLY hard in the summer months!!!! I will likely be at the beach EVERY weekend!!!! 😉 You will decide when the time is right for you to travel. I have been wanting to do this since I was about 20 years old – so, it took a while for it to be the right time for me. I’m glad to share my stories. My first hair shop and Korean Wedding experience will be next!!! 😉

  3. That’s awesome that a someone can get pulled (willingly) out of the states and have an awesome time and not be in the military. I am in the military and personally have had the best times of my life outside of the states or as we say in the military OCONUS…have a great time and enjoy Korea…you shoudl try germany next….there are some other clubs in hongdae my and my homey are goin to try and seek em out…Gangnam is off the chain as well…do you have any experiences from Gangnam?

    • Hey Dave – I didn’t party in Gangnam – but I think it’s a nice area – and I especially love going there to eat at Butterfingers – and yes, I have been in the Hongdae party district a few times. Lots of wonderful things to do in Seoul 😉

  4. Hey! I’m a recently-arrived American of Korean descent, so I understand the language, but Korea is feeling more foreign than I expected it to. I did a google search for mani/pedi’s in Seoul and found your blog so read a few entries. I figure you’re back in the States and from what I’ve read, maybe in Atlanta? I lived in Atlanta for 4 yrs and then in Savannah for 1 yr immediately before coming to Seoul. If you enjoyed the jimjilbangs in Korea, I wanted to let you know that there is one I know of just outside of the perimeter! It’s called Jeju Sauna (you may know of it already), but it’s up I-85N, off of Pleasant Hill exit. http://www.yelp.com/biz/jeju-sauna-duluth
    I hope you take back some of the fun stuff you enjoyed in Korea to Atlanta!
    And you’re right, the if a mani/pedi is $60 here for the basic service, it sounds like highway robbery to me! Oooh, my fav. nail salon in Atlanta (I understand you may have your favs) is Passion Nails off of Highland Ave. in Inman Park, just before you round the bend over the bridge to Old Fourth Ward. I’ve been going there for years. I hope my Seoul experience is as fun as yours sounds, thanks for the advice!

    • Hey Grace!! Welcome to Korea!! I have heard other Korean-Americans feel the same way you do about their home country. I am actually still here!! Teaching in Seoul (Gangnam area) this time around. I love Jeju spa in Atlanta, and I love the Inman Park area as well. I hope you have a wonderful stay in Korea. I will be here for another five months. Take Care!!! 😉

    • Actually – the best Mani and Pedi treatment I have received in Korea was in Osan/Songtan. Just a one hour bus ride from Seoul. The Escape Nail Salon in Osan (Songtan area) has the best prices and the best services in my opinion. Maybe you can make it there at some point. Osan/Songtan is a great area for shopping as well if you would like to make a whole day or weekend of it. Take Care!!! Enjoyyyyy 😉


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