Last night’s adventure took me to King Spa & Sauna, a Korean bath house – in Dallas. I had set my sights on King Spa for almost a year when a friend of mine decided to celebrate her birthday there. For three weeks I waited in anticipation. I don’t know if it was the quasi-nervousness of being naked around strangers in an unfamiliar place or the idea of the mental release of a hot salt room that appealed to me most. Perhaps it’s a little like traveling. Anything that offers a new perspective, a chance to get outside my comfort zone or a new cultural experience, I’m ready and willing.
First-time at a jjimjilbang (aka Korean Bathhouse and Spa) ? It’s really quite refreshing and liberating! A Korean bath spa day is also a perfect getaway option for Bridal party Showers, pre-wedding and post wedding relaxation days for Brides and Grooms or a nice day for couples.
What to Expect at a Korean Bath Spa
When you first enter the spa you pay a 24 hour flat rate fee of $18 and get your locker key and a number. That number is your identity for the rest of your visit at the spa. I was #169.
Men are separated from the women for the baths.
You then take an oversized pink spa shorts and top (no shoes past this point!) Shoes are kept in a locker to the left and clothes and personal belongings are kept in a separate locker to the right. Disrobing is done in a communal locker room setting with showers (no curtains) and the towels are only a hand-towel size. So, it’s up to you to choose which part of yourself to cover up (if you must). You’ve got three important areas, the towel only covers one
. You might as well just make Jjimjilbang (Sheep Head) Towel out of it and go native.
At this point, I looked at my friend, both of us stripped of all our clothes and all we could do was smile and say “Hello!” Awkwardness passed.
From there you head to the spas, where you can choose from different temperatures ranging from hot to cold.
Honestly, once the shock wore off, it was very freeing to be naked. It’s amazing how much you feel alive. There were a lot of different women: Korean, white, European, old, young, fat, skinny, it didn’t matter. No one’s really looking. But the Korean women wash and scrub for an hour and they scrub each other’s backs. I thought it very nurturing and from a loving, almost sacramental place. Not an ounce of weird taboo anywhere in the room. Here in America, I like to call us the land of Puritanism and prudery. Somewhere we learn to be ashamed of our naked bodies. Of course there is a time to be modest but there is a time for cleansing, not only of the body, but also of the mind. And in that state, there is no room for shame or guilt or hiding. It is the time to renew, refresh and connect with each other, ourselves. It’s a moment in our lives when we are stripped of everything, and we begin to really feel connected to self and to embrace our “nakedness” and vulnerability with a smile. This should be our ritual, whether we are in a room with others (though seldom) or by ourselves.
Various Rooms, Salt Rooms and Hot Rock Room
After the hot and cold spas, we clothed ourselves in the oversized pink spa attire (which kind of looks like nurse scrubs) and made our way to the oxygen room and the hot rock rooms. My favorite was the salt room. This room is made of 350 million year old natural salt base rocks. Salt is a natural preservative and the heat and humidity from the sauna allows for the skin to be exposed the healing properties of the salt. There are other rooms to choose from as well. Cold rooms, dark rooms, crystal rooms with giant Amethysts inlaid in the walls.
After one has had enough of the rooms, spas and saunas, there are movies to watch in the theater, naps to be taken on a comfy lounge chair, food to be eaten at the restaurant (not completely authentic, but I hear it’s close) and karaoke to be sung at the bar.
And for $18, you can do all of this for the next 24 hours.
Seriously, the perfect day spa.