I went to Seoul for two nights with Rie over the New Year holiday. It was a very short trip, but we still managed to experience quite a few interesting things. The first night we went to a the Dragon Hill Spa, a Korean sauna, which has multiple levels featuring baths, saunas and relaxation spaces. One of the first things I noticed that is not often found in Japanese Health Spas was the heated flooring throughout almost the entire building. Most of the saunas are dry type saunas, one actually felt like I was in a pizza oven, another one had walls and floors subsisting of salt crystal. Then there was the ice sauna, a good place to cool off after sweating it out in the other places.

The most memorable thing about our visit to the sauna was our decision to try out the "akasuri," in which a special towel is used to scrub all the dead skin and grime off your skin. However, the scrubbing is done by an attendant in the sauna, while you lay on a padded table completely naked. Normally, being washed by another person might be a pleasant experience. But not when its a person of the same sex, and they are using something that feels like sandpaper on almost every nook and cranny of your body. Fortunately, he stayed clear of the most sensitive zone, although the brisk pace in which he worked made for a couple close calls that could have been painful if he accidentally slipped. Not knowing any Korean made it a bit difficult to know when to turn over. I think he kept saying something like "Jup!" at that point. Finally when I the whole washing and scrubbing, as well as a tiger-balm massage, was finished, I stood up. He picked up a bottle of shampoo, called me over, and directed me to hold out my hand. Then he squirted a generous portion of shampoo into my palm. I rubbed it into my scalp, and walked back into the main shower/bath area. This was a special bonus, I realized afterwards, because the baths only supplied body soap, not shampoo.