Monday, March 31, 2008

That Asian Touch....

I had a rare occasion of having some time for myself just last weekend. Determined to have some exceptional, and unusual time, I have decided to got to a Spa - not just any relaxing spa playing Enya and Kitaro with Lavender candles... I mean a real Korean spa.

For some of you who have not heard of Korean Spa.... imagine - a great big place that has several different relaxation room in different temperature... my favorite is "Salt Room" where the floor is literally, heated salt, with linen on top - you lie down there... listen to the sound of breeze, ocean and seagulls.... nice, right?! Imagine a huge hot tub hall - where there are 4-5 different tubs - again with various temperatures from 60 to 104.... making you feel like you are in a Roman Empire (without being in Vegas....). On top of all these - imagine getting a invigorating body scrub with warm moisturizing body wrap.... And if you though that was too good to be true - to have all these at your disposal in one place.... how about a restaurant and tea room... .. You are talking about 5 hour stay at this Spa.

Well... what's that saying.... if it is too good to be true.... it is... Don't get me wrong - this is a great spa - just very different from what we normally think of... spa.

First- when you check in, they issue you a hand towel, bath towel, a bath robe in the same quality as hospital gown, and shower cap. Then this middle aged Korean woman tells you - you must wear your cap at all time.... I thought "ok... strange, but no big deal". Then soon you notice.... you don't understand background chit-chatting.... when you realize - you are surrounded mostly by Korean women. Oh, by the way, spa is for women only. No men allowed.

I was then escorted to the hot tub hall area. I have never seen soooo many naked Asian women in one place. I think they knew right away that I was not one of them because they stared at me, turned around and started to yap yap in Korean. My idea of Roman Public Bath time was.... ruined a bit - but I just grabbed my April issue of Harper's Bazaar and ignored Korean background noise.

I decided to navigate myself to "Salt Room" - relax on the hot salt floor.... close my eyes... imagine I was back in the Caribbeans...... As I opened the door to the Salt Room, I was greeted by about half dozen walrus.. or at least that's what I thought. I went in - lied down - closed my eyes - to deny the situation I was in.

After spending about 90 min. or so - immersing myself fully into this Korean spa culture... it was my appointment time for body scrub with moisturizing wrap. Now this is Korean spa. There is no individual room for treatment - the treatment area is right next to the hot tub hall area... no Enya, No Kitaro - you hear other people taking hot tub. There were about 10 plastic covered massage tables (I guess they are tables, not massage beds...). The surroundings made me think, "I guess this is what ( Turkish steam bath + Bangkok massage ) divided by 2 for men is like....".

This Korean lady came to greet me. She told me her name is "Bobbie". Just like being at any nail salons in big cities.... my first word after the greeting was ,"huh?" Then she repeated, "MY NAME BOBBIE". I pretended I could not hear well because of background noises of people splashing hot water.....

I climbed up where she pointed - face down. Then the scrub started.

Oh when they scrub, they mean scrub. Nothing gentle, No soothing lavender oil.... just scrub with those Korean scrubbing mittens on their hands. I knew they were taking revenge on me personally for what Japanese did to their ancestors during the World War II..... I was sure they were related to Kim Jong-Il. As they scrub and sandpaper my body, they splash bucket full of hot water to rinse away my skin.. dead or alive..... That torture lasted 45 min. Yes, I was so awake during the "relaxing, yet invigorating scrub" I kept looking at the clock. Then Bobbie explained to me that moisturizing body wrap has some ... "blah blah blah honey blah blah olive blah blah milk massage, OK?" I just said... "no problem..."

I felt something "moisturizing" poured on my body all over... then comes slapping and shaking massage. By then I was convinced that the whole place was feeding these images from our torture chamber to North Korea - so that The Supreme Commander would not feel lonely.... especially when I hear Bobbie talking loudly about something with fellow Korean comrades. Me, telling myself.... "this is not Canyon Spa - I didn't pay the Canyon Spa price...." - like a mantra.

After about 90 min being on the massage table being scrubbed, scraped, and seasoned with olive oil, honey and milk, shaken and slapped. I actually felt pretty good - I think I became Korean!

I felt so good... it did not bother me that restaurant only served Korean kimchi, bibimbap, and yuk ke jang. I happily ate my dolsot bibimbap... drove home as I kept feeling my smooooooth arms.
ps - This is my very first "photoshop" - I know it's crude but I will be better in a few years....

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