As we celebrate our tenth birthday of My Fab Fifties Life, today I re-share one of my favorite blog posts from way back in the beginning…Korean Spa – Some Like it Hot! Enjoy it again or for the very first time. Thanks for helping us celebrate ten years!
I’m discovering the Korean people love to be hot. Setting the temperature in our hotel room lower than 80 * Fahrenheit is nearly impossible. The toilet seat is heated and so are seats in the car.
And they love their hot baths and saunas. And now I do too.
I was a little apprehensive about going into the sauna the first time. Only apprehensive because I’m not used to walking around naked with people I don’t know. This apparently is not a problem for the Koreans. And frankly why it is for Americans I’m not sure. We do obsess a great deal about our bodies. God knows mine is far from perfect. But what is perfect anyway? Wouldn’t it be great if we all just were satisfied with ourselves?
Some Like it Hot
I tried to think like this in the sauna. No one paid any attention to me here. You shower first, then choose between three different pools; hot (44 C), medium (41 C) and cool (21 C). There is also a 95 C dry sauna, a 73 C wet sauna and a sun lamp room in addition to several stations to wash and scrub yourself.
After two days of visiting the spa I decided to tackle the massage and body scrub. I was met by a tiny little lady, the only person in the spa wearing a bathing suit (or perhaps it was her underwear, I’m not exactly sure). She motioned me into the small room adjacent to the spa and encouraged me to get up on the bed face up. She spoke only Korean except for the word “okay” which she used to show me I was following her instructions correctly.
Every Crease and Crevice
She then proceeded to scrub the hell out of my skin. Using what I think was mitts on her hands that were abrasive and using some abrasive concoction she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. With my eyes closed I had the image of me in my kitchen at home using my Brillo to scrub away baked-on macaroni and cheese. She scrubbed every nook, cranny, crevice and crease of my body, and I mean every crease and crevice – she was very thorough and diligent in her task. For an hour she scrubbed away years of dead skin, old suntans and crud. She even tried to scrub away a few scars. I have a permanent mark on my sternum where my running bra abrades me. She did her best to scrub that sucker away.
I wear a patch on my belly that is hormone replacement therapy. I hadn’t even thought about the patch, but she scrubbed that away too. I have no idea if she knew what it was but I felt it rip off and I laid there mentally calculating how many more I had in my suitcase. Just hoping the loss of one wouldn’t make me come up short before I headed home to my pharmacist.
She scrubbed my armpits and I was wishing I had shaved that morning. She scrubbed my breasts and I opened my eyes to peek and make sure my nipples were still there. She scrubbed my neck, my ears and every toe and finger.
She then soaped me up and I nearly shot right off the plastic covered bed like an oiled pig for being so slippery…she tossed large tubs of hot water all over me and I nearly drowned. And I loved every minute of it.
“Okay, Okay” she said and sent me off to shower and soak in the pools while she cleaned the room and prepared for my massage.
I returned and she was waiting for me and I laid down again, top up. She rubbed me down, starting with my face with an oil that smelled of the sea, fresh but also of seaweed. She used another implement that was wood and covered with nodules to rub my body head to toe. She occasionally would throw a bucket of hot water on me and then begin again. She covered my face with a hot towel and then I heard her scraping something. It sounded like my kitchen grater…and then the unmistakable smell of fresh cucumber. She grated and grated and then proceeded to artistically cover my entire face with the freshly and finely grated cucumber mash. And suddenly I was hungry and my stomach growled.
While lunch sat on my face she continued my massage. She found the knot in my neck where my massage therapist at home has spent a lot of time and energy. My Korean masseuse was hell-bent on undoing this knot and she worked and worked it. It was both painful and pleasurable. She even massaged my belly, almost as if she was trying to manipulate my liver and kidneys. Oops, and my bladder. I hoped she would avoid that area or else I wasn’t gonna make it through this torture without a potty break.
Finally she removed the salad from my face, lightly washed and dried my face and then it was time for dessert. Yes I said dessert. She drizzled honey all over my face and rubbed and patted it into my skin before saying “Okay okay” and had me roll over to my belly.
Not Done Yet!
And then she started on my backside. During this 30 minutes she made my sciatica feel fabulous and my lower back feel young again. She used a pumice stone on my feet and scraped away the dead skin and calluses. She kneaded my neck further and worked my shoulders and arms.
“Okay okay” and I rolled over again, thinking we must be done, but no. She washed my face again, poured more water all over me and then had me scoot all the way to the top of the table where she proceeded to wash my hair and scrub my scalp. Really, when has your masseuse ever done this?
Finally, after nearly three hours, “Okay okay” and I am done. Off to the showers I was sent.
My day at the Korean spa was not just a body scrub and massage, it was a facial and a hair care and pure ecstasy. My inhibitions are gone forever and I am now a super fan of Korean Spa Life. I will absolutely do this again.
And by the way, three hours and all this only cost me $75. Wow. I’m really starting to enjoy Korea.
All photos in this blog post from Canva.
See last week’s post about Cooking Class in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Next week we will share our final Nicaragua post about amazing San Juan del Sur.
See this week’s top performing post Twelve Things to do on the Island of Roatan.
We love it when you share our blog.
I loved this! So funny 😀 Makes me want to get a Korean spa treatment now, too hahaha. Hopefully, I get a lady saying “okay” all the time, too 😀August 21, 2017 at 8:44 am
That was an awesome read! I was horrified and intrigued at the same time! I miss cheap Asian massages!May 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Thank you Heather. We could all use a good spa day right now.May 16, 2020 at 9:29 am
Oh, my goodness, this sounds simply heavenly! I absolutely love a massage: having lived in Japan, Vietnam and India, I have spent many hours being scrubbed, rubbed and cleaned. I miss living in Asia!May 15, 2020 at 10:23 pm
Thank you. I try to experience a local massage in each country.May 16, 2020 at 9:28 am
Ahh, this looks so incredibly relaxing. I am so in need of this right now. My mood and my attitude are so down. This would help me so much.May 16, 2020 at 8:29 am
thanks so much. Hang in there. Stay hopeful!May 16, 2020 at 9:28 am
OH EM GEE!! With everything being shut down, I”ve been sad that I can’t go get a massage with my RMT. This sounds amazing and I’m hoping things can get back to normal soon because I love this form of self-care. The scrubbing sounds perfect and I’m going to look into a package that has this!May 16, 2020 at 11:52 am
oooo this sounds delicious…a bit painful I was grincing at the thought but how it would hurt and be good all at the same time….wow what a bargain…$75 for 3 hours….your lucky to get 55 minutes here in Australia. Heated toilet seats…yes please!May 17, 2020 at 3:59 pm
Awesome post! I’m so inspired to now go to Korea and visit a Korean spa. I have to also say your writing here is excellent. I was completely engrossed in reading your article.May 18, 2020 at 7:13 am
Thank you so much for your kind remarks.May 18, 2020 at 7:27 am
Wow this sounds like quite an experience and I loved your descriptions of the scrubbing and the food on your face. Amazing. Could you message me where this was? I’m going to Korea soon would love to know! And congrats on 10 years!!March 3, 2023 at 7:56 am
Let me look it up. It was in our hotel in the town of Dajaen.March 3, 2023 at 3:08 pm
I am smiling from ear to ear reading this, especially the bits about getting into the nooks and crannies – I imagine you felt like a new woman after all that scrubbing and pumbling. I have to say it is always an eye-opener getting massages in different countries. A few I have had in the Caribbean required me to take everything off, and when I explained that in the UK, we tend to leave knickers on, she said oh, you British are way too conservative! Another encounter was in Vietnam, where the masseuse hovered above me while massaging me (i wish I had her core strength! Needless to say, it sounds like you got value for money, even if you are missing a few layers of skin!March 3, 2023 at 9:05 am
One of my all time memorable experiences! Thanks.March 3, 2023 at 3:07 pm
I don’t think I’d be ok with wandering around naked either! But I like places that like it warm, my cold tolerance is very slight. 🙂March 4, 2023 at 5:08 am
It was very warm!March 4, 2023 at 7:06 am
Wow that sounds like such a relaxing experience! You have me wanting a massage stat now!March 4, 2023 at 6:53 am
It’s always a good time for a massage!March 4, 2023 at 7:07 am
Experience looks so amazing ! I’d love to visit Korea and this spa !
ValerieMarch 4, 2023 at 10:43 am
thank you!March 4, 2023 at 10:59 am
I am one of those people too who like it hot – baths, saunas and places to visit. I do love a massage that got all my knots. But as much as scrubs may be healthy I always pass on them. I could sure use a great spa right now!March 4, 2023 at 11:05 am
You’ll be ready when you get home…I’m sure enjoying following your current trip.March 4, 2023 at 11:30 am
I’m such a fan of visiting saunas when I travel. My favorites so far have been in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Lutzmannsburg, Austria! They were both HUGE!March 4, 2023 at 2:36 pm
Cool.March 5, 2023 at 5:09 am
I’m pretty sure I would love all this too! I do like it hot!March 4, 2023 at 3:45 pm
Oh wow, this sounds like a fascinating spa experience. I think I’d need to build up the courage for it first too though!March 4, 2023 at 11:27 pm
Yes it did take some courage!March 5, 2023 at 5:09 am
I laughed out loud at the part where she scrubbed you like you scrubbed food of a dirty dish HAHA! I have never related to something more in my life.March 5, 2023 at 11:40 am
Haha. Thank you!!March 6, 2023 at 3:23 pm