I survived the work week only to run my self ragged on the weekend....I am burnt out....
This weekend is the Korean holiday; Chuseok, and is equivalent to say...thanksgiving. Koreans go to their Grandparents homes and spend quality family time honouring their ancestors. Andrea and i were fortunate enough to be invited by a local (Nakeung) to his home in West Seoul. I was imagining a small traditional Korean home with barely enough space for too many family members...(something my many years of M.A.S.H. watching probably programmed into my head somewhere in my youth)....what i got was a multimillion dollar condo/apartment in Seoul's tallest building complex. THIS PLACE WAS HUGE!!!...I mean it was a monster 4 bedroom complex on the 24th floor (of 64!!!)...heated bamboo flooring, wall to wall windows...easily a 2 million dollar apartment in Vancouver. We were spoiled with a traditional Korean meal; Kimchi, Squid head "sushi", and a mish mash of other small plates with names i could never replicate...course II was Korean ribs...tasted like slow roasted beef on the bone, followed by a rice and soup course and finally...Seong Peong (dessert)...a half moon shaped, steamed dough ball created by the ladies of the house with some sort of almond/sesame filling...all very nice!
Andrea and I poked around the city a little bit, but most things were closed and well, we realized we have been go since we got here and there was no reason to kill ourselves with an overload of activity since we are going to be here for a LONG while yet..........so home for a crash nap. This is our apartment (top floor corner):
Yesterday was a packed day as we travelled to Changdeokgung Palace to see something traditional for Chuseok...I have attached photos...this palace is a rebuild of the original built in the 1400's..burnt down by the Japanese when Korea was annexed in the 1600's. After years of tour guiding I have gotten pretty good at making it look like the places in the photos are deserted and I have them all to myself. That is not the case here at all!! It was the biggest cluster of white people I have seen yet, probably 95 strong...all clamouring over each other for the perfect shot. Digital cameras have turned a whole generation of people into professional photo-journalists...(It's frustrating as I want to be the only one)!! If not hunting for the next cover of LIFE magazine...these tourists spend the 90-minute tour bitching about how they can't hear the guide or how there is "..never enough information on these bloody things!".
After an Korean/Chinese fusion dinner we decided to hit up another extremely Korean past time....The Jim-jil-bang, or for all those outside my immediate bubble; the Korean bathhouses.
Oh where to begin?!?!?.....
The Koreans love their bathhouses as they tend not to have much space at home to relax and unwind. Whole families tend to flock to the jim-jil-bang to unwind and enjoy each others company on their one day off. This particular spa was Andreas personal favourite on her last tour of duty so, she wanted me to have a great first experience to deter any possibility of me getting scared off by some dodgy seedy nude pool. (i think she is planning to be a regular visitor here)
It is 6000 won (6 bucks) to enter, and upon check in you receive your colour coded shorts and t- shirt ( Andrea calls them PJ's). You get an electronic wristband key for your locker which doubles as a scanner if you wish to purchase anything while in the spa. The options for up-selling are endless...massage, waxing, ping pong, comic books, food, beer and other assorted bevy's...a full body mud scrub, and my personal favorite; Dr. World Fish.
For 3 dollars we sat on the edge of an above ground wading pool loaded with brown fish. A school of at least 1000 small fish swarm to the edge waiting for you to place your feet inside on the rocks and within the reach of their gaping mouths and sharp little teeth! Absolutely terrifying!! The idea is for you to place your feet down on the rocks and the fish will EAT off the dead skin, and in a twisted symbiotic reciprocation, provide you with exfoliation and a "stimulating" foot massage........This may just be in the top three weirdest things I have ever done. It took me 3 minutes to get one foot in without screaming and 10 minutes more to be able to stomach looking at the little pirahnas attached to every inch of my submerged skin... Andreas experience is a whole novel on its own....lets just say she has a "Thing" with fish and this was harder for her than jumping out of an airplane. I personally pushed one leg in the water and the Korean attendant took liberties on Andrea to force her other leg in as well...If it were not for the towel jammed in her mouth, we probably would have been ousted for disturbing the peace with all her screaming!
My feet have never looked so great!
The rest of the spa experience involved many different themed coed saunas..... one is inside an amethyst geode (the walls are covered in a layer of crystal) others include healing clay and hanging herb bags, charred bamboo (or some other wood), and a cool down freezer (literally). My chi has never felt so invigorated. The bath portion involves some public nudity and courage to be the only hairy white man in the room. The Baths are thematic as well as I spent most of my time enjoying sitting on the bubbles in a giant steaming cup of green tea.As i stepped out of the bath to move about the room, I immediately grew wary of the young children and old men staring into the abyss that is my manhood with jaw dropping amazement. I decided to stay in the cup of green tea......
This is on the agenda for next week....Evil Dead: The Musical............wow