Get your mind out of the gutter–we weren’t in the newest version of Girls Gone Wild: Girls of the ROK. No, we went to . . . the new Lynnwood branch of Olympus Spa, a popular Korean spa that’s been in Tacoma and just opened their new branch this week. Some of the AAAW ladies and myself spent last night in a prolonged state of relaxed bliss. We also celebrated T.’s birthday in the spa restaurant/juice bar after a few hours of enjoying the spa amenities.
Last year, I never got the chance to go to a 목욕탕 (mogyotang) or a 짐질방 (jimjilbang)–although K. was all for it in August–so I was excited to have this opportunity to try out the Korean (albeit slightly Americanized) bathing experience. Even better to have some girlfriends to go with.
HOWEVER . . .
We were all discussing beforehand whether or not the spa allows bathing suits in the whirlpools and saunas. No one was quite sure, because in Korea, the only suit allowed is your birthday suit. But one of my friends had been to a place in NYC where they kept chasing her around and trying to cover her up. I decided I should bring a suit just in case.
But of course, 1/2-way on the long drive up to Lynnwood, I realized I’d forgotten it at home.
I had a slight moment of panic, thinking, “I’ll be the only one who forgot to bring a suit!” and cursed myself for not being more religious at working out the past few months. Fortunately, once I arrived, I signed a form stating that I understood the spa’s policies, one of which is “absolutely no clothing, except for shower caps, is allowed in the whirlpools or saunas.”
Granted, the idea of hanging out with my friends completely nude was unnerving, but after that initial moment of hesitation before disrobing (I went around the corner so that T. couldn’t see me), I felt remarkably nonchalant about it. It was interesting and relieving to see all body types there. We all looked ridiculous anyway, with our pink shower caps. I couldn’t help but feel a bit like animals in a zoo. The tables where they do the body scrubs, with the hoses and whatnot–the rather fierce-looking 아주마 (ajuma) seemed like a dog groomer (or in some cases an elephant handler . . . now I’m being catty). Also, there were several heated rooms with various benefits (releasing toxins, etc.). My favorites were the sand room and the mud & jade room. Again, though, with the faux-stone walls and the red lighting, laying on the 150-degree floor, I felt like a lizard in a reptile exhibit. A relaxed lizard.
I splurged on a massage, which was fantastic, wonderful, blissful. She played vaguely Hawaiian-sounding guitar music, which helped my daydream of being on a beach. Later, I sampled some of the whirlpools, steam saunas, and heated rooms. We wrapped up the evening with 비빔밥 and 만두 (and birthday cake) in the restaurant. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.
And now . . . time to tackle the homework I’ve been avoiding thus far. Once I get through this upcoming week, I’m golden until finals (so soon!).