Last night I wrote up a post about the pedicures Brigid and I got over the weekend. I wrote two versions and I didn’t care for either one. It was titled: chân của cô làm cho tôi bịt miệng, which means “this woman’s feet make me want to puke” in Vietnamese. My post had nothing new to offer on the drop-in pedicure experience so I’m dumping it.
I am going to tell you about my 40th birthday when I went with two other women to a Korean bathhouse for a day of pampering.
Before going into the story there are a couple of things you need to know.
- I’m not big on nudity. I am not to be found wandering out of the bathroom after a shower wearing only a towel on my head. Not naked.
- I was with a friend whose husband was in my wedding and she and I worked together. The other woman was a friend of my friend, we were also co-workers but not good friends, not intimate friends. Just co-workers, just someone you are nice to in an office of a couple of hundred people.
My friend C. bought me a day at the bathhouse for my 40th birthday. The owner’s son or nephew was a stockbroker where she worked and he said it was a really cool place. So she treated me to a day of Korean beauty and skin care at the Jade Sauna in Beaverton. All photos courtesy of Jade Sauna.
C., R. and I arrive at the Sauna and checked in at the front desk which has a little showcase in the counter so you can buy things after your visit. They sold bars of Dial soap, little Korean dolls, scrub gloves, plastic rain bonnets, Jergen’s lotion, toothbrushes, the usual. R and I opt for the exfoliation package and C goes for the massage package.
The host (I can’t remember if it was a man or a woman) shows us to the locker room to change out of our clothes into
our spa robes some towels. Here is the locker room:
What you can’t tell from that pretty picture is that on the other side of that row of lockers is the front door of Jade Sauna and there is no wall, door, sheet, shower curtain, NOTHING dividing the front hallway/entry/gift shop of the Jade Sauna from the dressing area so I am taking my clothes off in front of my friend (not best friend), a co-worker and whoever else happens to be roaming the building.
Once we have our towels on, we wait on a bench in the hallway and the host brings us a snack. I have been to spas where they bring you spring water and raw almonds but at the Jade Sauna they bring you barbecued eggs. Hard boiled eggs but grilled in the shells. We sat on a bench in a hallway with towels on trying to peel burning hot barbecued eggs because we don’t know how to tell our host that we don’t want to have to manage our brown barbecued eggs while simultaneously trying to keep our towels on.
After snack time, we are taken into a very large shower room with shower heads along the walls and a big tub in the middle of the room. The tub is full of water with rocks and algae in it. I stay the hell away from the tub. I don’t know if I’m supposed to go near it, I don’t know what it’s for. In the background of the photo you can see a bench with shampoo on it but there is also a little box of individually-wrapped toothbrushes. I don’t do anything in the shower room. Humid doesn’t begin to describe the shower room. The tiled ceilings were dripping with condensation.
From the shower room we go into a sauna and steam room. the three of us know how to handle that and we sit and sweat out our impurities and finally stop laughing nervously. From there, we go to the Salt Room. The salt room is a very warm dry room, VERY warm, with a floor made of salt. Like a floor mattress made of salt. The salt is good for your skin and lying on a salt mattress floor with your head on salt pillows with only a towel on next to two women whom you know kind of well and not really at all is soothing.
I’m sure the salt room is very soothing to people who are not in a horrified state of self-consciousness. We laid on the floor (lied? laid?), in a row, in our towels, eyes closed, breathing, meditating. That lasted a good 40 seconds and then we started laughing. And then had to stop laughing when Koreans came in to take their traditions seriously.
After the Salt Room soothing, R (my co-worker who I really don’t know at all) and I are taken into the exfoliation room for our exfoliation procedure.
So there we are, me and R. Yep, gonna lie naked next to each other in the exfoliation room. We lie on our stomachs, all naked and not good friends at all, keep eyes shut and pretend that I am not naked in a room dripping like a rain forest a foot away from my naked co-worker.
In come the Korean ladies who will be doing the exfoliating. They are tiny little women who don’t speak English or not English that I recognize or can translate. They have black lycra tank tops and bike shorts on. They waste NO time getting to work. We are fire hosed down with comfortably warm water and then attacked by the little Korean women armed with scrub gloves and Dial soap. And they scrub the living hell out of us. I discovered why Asian people don’t have any hair on their bodies, they scrub it all off with Dial soap and Brillo pads.
These women left no stone unturned, no ass cheek unlifted, no boob unattacked. My lady wanted to scrub my face with the SOS pad but I waved her off. My fair Irish
alcoholic rosacea skin couldn’t take that. Ahhh, soothing. Once the top layer of my epidermis was removed, the little lady moved on to the next step which was to hose me down and then scrub me within another inch of my life with oatmeal. Still naked and being manipulated and flipped around by manic Korean woman in gym suit. (I know this sounds horribly sexy but wow, really not!) Still trying to pretend that my naked coworker from accounting isn’t 12 inches away from me. Hosed down again and rubbed down from head to toe with honey. Hosed down again and massaged from head to toe with milk.
The three of us are back in the shower room and told to shower without getting our skin wet but washing our hair. How do I know this if I don’t speak Korean and the little Korean lady doesn’t speak English? I know this because I had lost whatever modicum of modesty I had left and was showering next to my two pals when the little Korean woman came screaming over at me and yanked me out of the water and pointed at her head and patted my head and pointed at my white fat body and and shook her finger at me.
Back out to the Dressing Display Area, redress, smile and run out of building. Go home get ready for party that night.
Spend party making people touch my skin which is softer than it was the day I was born.