So, today my couchsurf host fell through. Eunhye, the girl that I've spent the last two nights with (not like that) helped me find a hostel but then her mom (she lives at her parents.. very common in seoul) said I should stay the night with them again as she didn't know the quality of the hostel. however, they had family plans that day so I had to be gone till 10pm. I decided to go to Sinchon station and walk around that district. I couldn't decide on what to do for lunch. korean fried chicken is beyond delicious, but we ate so unhealthily yesterday so I decided I wanted something else.. but what? Then I stumbled upon a spot that serves kkori gomtang, aka bone marrow oxtail soup. it isn't just bone marrow. they simmer the whole bone down. till it is no more. your soup is mad from bone. it's delicious (well it is with kimchi and salt). My friend anna turned me onto it in nyc (thanks anna!) I even made it once, it did not come out as good as the one today. This one had ginseng and chinese red date in it. never had it like that before. Being sort of sick and rundown (and a lack of voice from sore throat) this soup HIT THE SPOT. of course most lunches cost like $3-5 and this was around $11. but you know what, I'm worth it. well somedays I am.
I decided after the gomtang to try out a jjimjilbang, or a korean bath house. I've been to russian/turkish style bath houses. let me tell you this, they have nothing on the jjimjilbang. The one that I went to had shared sex kiln rooms, each room a different "theme." There was the yellow mud room, the salt room, the traditional style room (incredibly hot), the ice room (incredibly cold, but awesome after the traditional room), the charcoal room, the silver room, and many more. They were usually brick or cement almost igloo shaped kilns, heated to 66 ºC (150.8 ºF) on par. I was curious what the traditional one was heated to, because it blew the others away. There was also a restaurant, snack bars, juice bars, game rooms, playstation rooms, computer rooms, meeting rooms, sleeping rooms, cave rooms.... well you get the point. down stairs were separate men and women bathrooms. besides a changing area the rooms also had shower/pool areas. there was three different heated jacuzzis, one was near skin peeling off boiling. there were a few different cold pools, one so cold I could barely walk in as my body froze and I feared shock was near. There was also a slanted water massage pool that had metal bars to separate spots. you'd hold on to the bars and adjust your body to the water massage and work your body out. Of course I didn't know this, or even that is was slanted. So when I walked in, I fell and nailed my ass on a metal bar. awesomeness. There are also saunas and steam rooms there. and then tons of showers, standing or sitting ones. you get all this for about the $6 entry fee (food and drinks and computer use cost additional.
I decided to give myself a treat and get a massage. My back has been killing me from the farming and lugging my heavy backpack around. also, I'm so much taller that everything is lower and I strain my back a lot from the bending. It was a very enjoyable deep tissue style sports massage, and I felt like jelly afterwards. so what next? well, in the pool rooms there are also these tables where you can get scrubs. I had read about them so decided to get one as they are supposedly great at removing layers of dead skin. This is no rumor, it's the truth. for about $17 I had someone go through the following procedure. They start by washing you off with water. Then scrub you with louvre. Scrub all over. ALL OVER. I didn't have an inch left untouched (for you curious ones, they barely touch there, but they do a bit). You're also put into some angles and moved to your sides to allow them to get everywhere. There is a washing off with water in between body sections. I've never seen so much dead skin come off me. In between there is massaging of pressure points. Next they wash you down in soap. After your body is clean they'll massage the face with a menthol cream. Then hot towel on face. Then cold cucumber mask. Then cover that with a hot towel. Wash and scrub your hair. Some muscle adjustments here and there and you're good to go. The scrubbing itself was sort of painful, and sort of enjoyable. It's rough to say the least, I expected to be red all over from the scrubber but I wasn't.
It's hours later and I still feel so relaxed. And honestly, my skin has never felt so soft or so fresh and clean. it could give a baby a run for it.
Before heading back to my hosts house I had to get some dinner. What better way to top the night off than with some mandoo (korean dumplings). I got half kimchi ones, half meat.
I'm now ready to go to bed a happy, happy boy. I've asked Eunhye to maybe go hiking with me tomorrow. For those not in the know, Seoul is surrounded by some beautiful mountains, some just subway rides away.
I'll leave you with food porn of my meals today.