S.Korea 2015 – Day 5 – Spa, Bongeunsa Temple, Dongdaemun DP

The heavens had opened up this morning, with heavy rain and thunder and lightning crashing and fulfilling the weather forecast we’ve been having for the past 2 weeks. So we went out for a a korean spa experience, known locally as a Jimjilbang – Kind of a bath house, sauna, and relaxation area all in one. For a reasonable price of 10000 won (about ¬£5.50) you can stay for as long as you want. The Siloam spa near Seoul Station is just a walk away from where we were staying, and according to reddit, is one of the better spas around Seoul in terms of features.

The basement floor is a gender separated bath house, where all the men are naked. I took an initial peek down there and I think I double the amount of cocks I had seen in my entire life in about 5 seconds. Thankfully, you get used to being naked after a little while, and down there to enjoy are a variety of sauna and baths including a cold bath, mugwort bath (which supposedly reduces vaginal discharge, which would explain the old man sitting inside), salt bath, jacuzzi, cold bath, and a bunch of other stuff like a waterfall shower (which hits hard) and massage area, complete with possibly naked masseuse.

The upper floors were dedicated to relaxation, with a variety of activities (GO, table tennis, video games) and then more traditional hot rooms where you can just lounge around. Some of the hot rooms were filled with hot stones and things to surround yourself with (small stone balls, giant salt crystals, jade rock), though actually laying on it or burying yourself in it is a pretty bad time because the rocks are heated to like 60 deg C. One room in particular called the fermentation room (?) was at 85 deg C, and was ridiculously hot, I went inside for a quick sit and take a picture and could already feel the sweat pores on my finger open up as I held my phone up. Thankfully, there was an ice room just next door. We’d bathe and chill (or in my case, sweat on a bed of hot salt rock) for a couple of hours before heading back home in the pouring rain.

Cold soba and tempura for lunch, and then we headed to the Coex mall at Samseong, which was an absolutely gigantic mall, possibly one of the biggest i’ve seen, though only one floor means it takes ages to get anywhere and you can get lost easily. The mall was nice, but kind of soulless and uninteresting, very few photos as a result as it just looked like a generic posh shopping area.

Thankfully, just across the road outside coex mall is Bongeunsa Temple, consisting of about 5 temple buildings and a big ol’ buddhist statue. As we walked up the steps toward the main temple, there was a covered area which practically featured a ceiling of paper lanterns with charms hanging from them, very pretty. The rain would stop us from properly exploring the surrounding area, but we ventured out enough to catch a peek at the statue hiding behind one of the smaller temples.

Next stop, Dongdaemun design plaza – a kind of contemporary art centre but actually interesting and not shit. The structure itself was a strange shape, like someone stuck their thumb into a ball of playdough a few times, and the inside similarly kind of odd, a mixture of empty halls which go on forever and unique architecture and furniture. One of the large rooms looked to be a huge sales space for unique stuff, and had a lot of neat inventions or designs which I have yet to see elsewhere, who knows whether they’ll catch on or not.¬†Japanese sushi/udon/katsu set for dinner, and then a venture outside to see the surroundings at night. The outer dome of the design centre lights up at night, and similarly we found a whole ‘field’ of flower lights.

The oldies had left us for the night, so we returned back to Seoul Station to check out ‘Seoul Game station’, an arcade we found by accident the a few days ago when we left the station via the wrong exit. It was cosy inside, a large open room with a slew of mostly music games and a collection of tekken cabs. We had a bit of a rough time working out how to play but eventually figured it out, without much help from the attendant who spoke no english. Had a nice play of the latest bemani (sdvx3 gravity wars, pop’n lapistoria, reflec groovin upper) and also gave EZ2DJ and Taiko a try, the latter was such fun, i completely forgot how good taiko was. Just as we were turning to leave though, my brother suggested we try the karaoke booth… We ventured inside and had a browse through the gigantic song book of Korean, Japanese and English songs – would have loved to try singing some korean song, but we wouldnt have been able to read the lyrics, would have loved to sing something in Japanese, but was unable to find anything in the book as the songs are listed by Song Name (rather than artist name), so we tried to find something we could both sing….

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Great fun, though hard to sing at times because we were laughing so hard. We headed home, then headed back to the arcade because we forgot the umbrella, goddamnit.