Friday, 10 December 2010

Going to Jjimjilbang 찜질방, random updates for the past week & bidding farewell to Huiwen

I am really bracing myself for the Winter as it is just getting colder and colder every day! Now that all my "local" friends have returned to Singapore and the 3 weeks of term-break was spent playing, touring etc. (instead of revising my Korean), finally have some time to myself. 

So what did I do the past few days?

After the playing so hard, going around, sleeping late etc. my body finally decided to break down so I can rest. (Just at the point when I could spend more time to myself!)

My good buddy - Huiwen, who has been my Seoul travel partner is finally leaving Seoul for Taiwan today! She is finally going home and I am so gonna miss her!

She's my listening ear whenever I complain and in difficult times, my companion after class as we study in the Ediya Coffee Joint near school, my partner in roaming and experiencing Seoul as a student, above all, my friend who always offer her help readily whenever I needed it. 

So for the last few days of her Seoul adventure, we (as in her other Taiwan friends and myself), planned a number of activities so as to enjoy the last bit of time with her.

First, we went to Jjimjilbang (찜질방). Let's talk abit more about this Jjimjilbang - pronounced as "Zim-chil-bang". This is like a spa centre. A place that is always featured in Korean dramas- where people go for a "public bath", spa in their preferred pool, then they all change into a PJ and hang out in what looks like a huge living room. Some watch TV, some just hang out, eat, talk, read etc.

Example of jimjibang? 
This is a shot taken from the super popular Korean Drama, Secret Garden that is currently airing!

In the JJimjilbang, there are 2 main areas. The BATH area & the COMMON LIVING ROOM area.

In the BATH area (Women & men bath areas are separated, so no men goes to the women bath areas and vice-versa). The BATH area is a huge shower room where you and your fellow females share 1 public shower space. (Of course you don't need to share shower heads as they are many available)

So you enter the Jjimjilbang, where you have to pay a small fee (usually 10,000 won, and for some good ones with alot of facilities, it can cost up to 20,000 won), and they will pass you a locker key, a towel & a PJ (pyjamas!). You can then head in the Jjimjilbang. Before entering, you will have to remove your shoes and leave it in one of the pigeon holes meant for shoes. 

You then head to the women's BATH area where there will be a locker (look for the number on the locker key that they passed you). In this area, you start seeing naked women hanging out around you. DO NOT START AT THEM. Put your bag, accessories, and whatever you are wearing on you in there. Everything has to go in there cause you don't carry anything to bath do you? (Yes, this is where you have to strip and bare it all!)

 The consolation is that, everyone happily struts around naked and they don't stare at each other. So you shouldn't feel too conscious about it too. (though I felt REALLY conscious and awkward!)

Oh, and there are toilets and sinks available for you to do your stuff before you go bath. e.g remove make up, pee etc.

Next you proceed to the shower area where they have shampoo and soap all in-built. Everyone showers in this area (imagine a super big bath room).

Then you can choose to go to the hot pool (some JJimjilbangs have multiple pools for you to choose from and some only have 1 or 2). These hot pool ranges from super hot pool (to open your pores), to mineral pools, jacuzzi pool with water spurting out of the vents, to super cold pools to close the pores. And no swimming costumes allowed. You go in there stark naked, please.

After that, you can also choose to go to the steam room (depending on whether that centre has it) or you can go for a massage (which is payable, but very cheap and subject to availabilities. Different centres have different facilities). Then you can opt to shower once more (if you want), get changed to that PJ they passed you, blow your hair etc. and head to the COMMON AREA.

Whatever it is, this place is a cool place to go and they sell everything you may need in there for a good shower (bath cloth, scrubs, panties, t-shirts etc etc).

I also spotted girl friends scrubbing each others' back - it's like girl friend bonding time!

Next, we move on to the COMMON LIVING ROOM. This is the one and only common area that is shared between the women and men and that is somewhat like a huge living room where they have multiple rooms (some even made of mineral stones) of different temperatures for you to "sweat it out" or "cool down" etc. (It's strange to like bath and be so clean only to sweat it all out again isn't it?)

This is also where they serve food, drinks, have television for you to watch and floor mats and head rest for you to grab and laze around with your friends. So you basically just spend time with the people you go with or just hang out alone going to those rooms to de-stress. You can sleep in there for the next 24 hours and nobody will stop you. Otherwise, once you are done, you can just return to the BATH area, take a quick shower, get changed and go off from there.

Back to my story. At first, I felt really awkward that we have to take off all our clothes and bath in a common area. It's just not a regular thing we do in Singapore so I felt really strange. But my Taiwanese & Japanese friends are all really used to this sorta "hot spring" thingy and they totally enjoyed it and encouraged me to stop getting conscious for nothing!

So we had our dose of massage and steam baths etc. and ended up in the common area where we went to a heated stone room for "therapy". Nobody takes pictures in the Jjimjilbang! We were the only strange ones.

Cheers to friendship and sister-bonding!

And 1 shot for the stone room!
Somehow, this Jjimjilbang thing made me feel better in terms of my cold. I guess it was just too cold outside and I really needed the warmth in the jjimjilbang! Ultimately, we got changed and went home to spend the night.

When I got back home, look what I found?!

I was pleasantly surprised with this awesom home-made remedy for my cold! 
Made with love from my super loving home mate 언니! 고마워!
I am really blessed to have such awesome home-mates. Who else could be more blessed?
*Feel loved instantly!*

언니 said that this would be soothing to the throat. It is a pear that's been sliced n mashed up, with red dates and honey. Smelt and tasted heavenly! Seeing this already made me feel better!


So, then as usual, I met Huiwen the next day to do some revision together (and the day after as well). She wanted to shop at Ehwa, and so that's where we went. 

I have to study alone from now on... :(

The night was so chilly it started snowing. And it was quite a heavy one at that! The mood is already so blue and the cold snow makes it blu-ier.

And the day came when we bid farewell to Huiwen in the KTV! 
"우리 서로 사랑했는데 우리 이제 혜어지네요!"

The good thing about KTV in Seoul is that - we can openly bring food to the room and it's OK.
(Singapore is the only place where everything is NOT ok)

Look at them both with new hair-dos!

And I croacked away in my sore-throat voice!

I prepared a special video for Huiwen to commemorate ther achievement in Seoul for the past 6 months!

 Huiwen, I wish you all the best, till we meet again. Thank you for being that special friend! :)

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