Friday, December 27, 2019

Seoul Day 3: NAKED!

It Seoul Day 3! And yes the word for the day is NAKED. You might already know why but if you don't, read on. 

I got out at 9 in the morning and was all ready to figure out the subway system. This is from the 이대역 Idaeyeok entrance with a long escalator ride down. It's so long they didn't even bother to build any flight of stairs. 

I found these two apps most useful to find my way in Seoul. The first is KakaoMap. It is quite complete and has all the places marked out very well for you. You may have saved some places in Google Maps but it doesn't work very well in Korea. And the government has disallowed the download offline use of the South Korean map in Google Maps. Therefore, KakaoMap is the way to go. 

Next is the Seoul Subway - Metro Map and Route Planner by Mapway. There are many such apps but I found this the best. You can find routes or alternative routes using this app and you can also look through the diagram to figure out where you are. I was once given the wrong direction and so I used this to make the right transfers to get back on track.

So I got into the train...

...and arrived at Siloam Sauna!

Going to the 찜질방 jimjilbang or the Korean bathhouse is a very unique experience. The most important thing you need to get ready for is the fact that Korean bathhouses are naked affairs. Hence the word for the day: NAKED!

Note: I was pretty worked up trying to get my mind round being in a 찜질방 that I didn't take any photos. These photos I've gotten them from the internet.  

Step into the entrance of Siloam Sauna and you make payment at the counter for ₩11,000. And from there, go to the women section through the door. And of course without saying, men the men's door.

At the doorway, you need to remove your shoes and place them in a shoe box and you will be given a locker key and 2 small towels.

When I was still back in Kuala Lumpur, my friend who has visited Korea countless times before told me that I have to experience going to a 찜질방. She told me that it's such a norm here in Korea that nobody will care to look at you. 

So what I did at home was to psycho myself to first accept myself. And I think I did well in preparing myself.

As I walked into the changing area to my locker, I can already see several women in their elderly years walking around naked. 

So I stripped and acted nonchalantly like I've done this a million times and walked down the stairs to the bath area. 

Obviously no pictures here to show you but the thing is not only have I not seen a naked woman before until now, I have never seen SO MANY of them. 

I know nobody looks at me or mind me around or anybody for that matter but I am a people watcher. So I find it really fascinating to see so many women unconcerned about how they look or how anyone else look. What they all did was just to take showers or dips in the hot baths or a sweat in the sauna. 

I got into a relaxed mode pretty quickly and at one time I even saw a woman with a massectomy scar. She didn't care, she just walked over and stepped into the hot bath like it's the most natural thing to do. 

This experience really taught me something important. We are all so imperfect no matter how good we look on the outside, we have scars on the inside that no one can see. And now that we do see them, so what? Everyone has their own scars anyway.

I also treated myself to a good and thorough body scrub and aromatherapy massage. That lasted a good long hour. I felt so pampered. 

I wasn't allowed to get back into the hot tubs because I was covered in oil after the massage but I wasn't going to go home yet. So I washed myself clean and got into the baths again. Even the cold bath! It was painfully cold on first dip but as I got accustomed to it, it was a great feeling. 

After the bath, I went back to the changing room to change into their uniform...

...and proceeded to the common room where men and women can chill out together. 

I stayed in Siloam for 4 and a half hours! And after that I thought I'd go visit the Kyobo Bookstore. I took a walk on Seoul-ro the elevated walkway to Seoul Station.

It's so pretty even in winter that it doesn't even look like a pedestrian bridge. 

I arrived at Seoul Station, the biggest station linking several lines. But I got lost in the Seoul Station. It is a huge station!

But finally I found my way to the bookshop. 

It's a huge store with lots and lots of people and the beauty of it is that none of the books are wrapped in plastic that you can view them anytime you want. They even prepare seats and even tables and there were so many people busy reading. I find that Koreans do love to read and they read a lot.

When I left the bookstore, I was very tired and my legs were killing me. I don't walk well and the long walks have strained my right thigh muscle. I had to walk so terribly slowly I am glad I'm alone. No one will have enough patience walking with me. 

I decided to go to the 남대문 Namdaemun Market. I think I made the wrong decision but since I was already there I had no choice. 

I decided to just go to a restaurant and take a seat to rest my leg and have dinner. It didn't matter that I had to order for two...

...which I did. This 죽발 Jukbal or pig's trotter is a serving for 2 to 3. 

I ate only half of it. But it was good. Wish I had the stomach for more. 


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