I realized once I got there that I actually had no idea what I was doing. I obviously wasn’t paying attention when I wore my shoes into the change room—always look for shoe storage when you enter a facility in Korea.
After some confusion about how I was to open my assigned locker, I asked a woman to help me. She looked at me. “Shoes—off,” she said. Oops. Then she lead me back out into the hall, over to the shoe lockers I bypassed. The key from that locker is also the key to open your change room locker. Of course.
Back in the change room, I was immediate aware of the fact that most people around me were naked. Those who weren’t naked were wearing a grey T-shirt and shorts with the spa’s logo on them. I wanted to find me some of those. I followed a stream of people to a desk with a stack of such outfits and requested one, and luckily I was handed one. I went back to my locker, undressed, and slipped into my comfy grey uniform. Again, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Where do I go now? I kept asking myself.
I went back to the clothing counter lady and asked her where I was supposed to go. “Clothes—this way,” she said as she pointed back outside the change room.
“Showers?” I asked.
“No.” She shook her head and her hands. “Clothes—this way,” and she pointed outside again.
So that’s where I went. I followed the other grey-dressed people and walked upstairs. It was a madhouse. There were children running around, a live band, a nap area, a food area, and—finally—the massage room.
For the next hour and a half, I was beaten, slapped, and “massaged” by an old Korean woman. This was a massage like no other. She pressed her strong fingers into my muscles as hard as she could. Then he took her fists and hit me. Then she opened her palm and slapped me. And this was supposed to be relaxing? The sound of a slap isn’t relaxing, yet alone the feeling of one. I wanted to give her directions to keep to my sore back and neck muscles, but I was more curious to see where else this massage would go. Well, it would go into my ears, apparently. Yes—she took her fingers and massaged the inside of my ears. Awkward.
After that interesting activity, it was time to be brave and hit the water. At my locker, I took a deep breath and undressed. A little shy, I held my little blue Miranda Spa towel in front of me as I walked through the change room into the pool area. There were a few glances, a few looks, and a few long stares, but eventually I got comfortable enough to ditch the towel.