Map in hand, Dale leading the way, we’d already been walking for a couple of hours in Daegu, South Korea. We were both carrying our backpacks & daypacks whilst looking for a hostel. Tiredness kicked in, so we thought of a suggestion that one of our couchsurfing hosts gave us, she said we should definitely try the Jjimjilbang before leaving Korea.
All we knew was that Jjimjilbang are Korean Public Bathhouse open 24 hours, where you can also spend the night in if you want to. We could have done with a nice wash and we were definitely looking for a place for the night, so the decision was kind of made for us.
We found one, followed corridors and doors down the the basement, and walked in. It was unbelievable cheap (only 7000 won each about €5, $7, £4), we thought it was a bargain without actually knowing what we suppose to do or where we would sleep later.
The bath area isn’t mixed so Dale went to the male area and I proceeded to the female one. I had absolutely no idea of what I supposed to do so I gave a quick look around – people watching is one of my favourite activities – it wasn’t difficult to figure out how it worked.
In the lockers room there was a lady selling food, drinks and bath related items (soaps, scrubs, facial masks….).
Sorry, there will be no photos of the bath area, use your imagination!
I needed to get naked of course, there was no private changing room and everybody was walking around without any clothes on so I had no choice, I followed the ‘rules’.
I must admit, I felt uneasy to start with, especially considering that all the eyes were pointed toward me, oh yes, I was the only ‘non-Korean’ woman in there.
After the unusual start, I walked into the bath area which was super steamy. Again a quick glimpse was enough to understood I needed to shower first before entering in any of the many tubs, so I used the stand up shower which was again without any doors or curtains.
Some other people were using the sitting down showers and most of them were scrubbing each other hard, making the skin really red, I guess to get rid of the dead skin.
There were few mothers and daughters (unless there were aunts and nieces or simply friends), some very young, maybe around 6 years old? That made me think how going to these baths must be quite traditional in Korea.
There were so many tubs with water at different hot temperature, one was ice cold maybe useful for when you get out of one of the saunas? Not sure, I’m not an expert as you can probably guess.
There were massage beds too where somebody was enjoying one.
I did what everybody else was doing but in my own way, I enjoyed the ‘Jacuzzi’ massage style in some tubs, then got dressed with a kind of pajamas supplied to whoever was going to spend the night there and met Dale in the hall.
We both laughed at each other because we looked clothed in a kind of uniform of baggy pants and baggy tops of different colors depending on the gender, I had the pink one and Dale, you can judge from the picture below.
Time For ‘Bed’!
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we entered the sleeping area. I wasn’t expecting a bed, I thought there would have been some kind of sunbeds where we could crash on, WRONG!
There were people sleeping everywhere on the floor which fortunately was heated.
There were some TVs still on, there was a lady selling some snacks, drinks and random food like baked eggs and cup noodles. There were dry saunas at different temperatures, dark rooms for whoever didn’t like the soft light, a PC room, a lot of bookshelves full of comics and few other rooms. NO BEDS or MATTRESSES.
The pillows looked like small bricks in shape and also consistence (they weren’t the soft kind :()
So let’s find some floor space before it gets too crowded, shall we?
We spent 2 nights at the Jjimjilbang because it was so cheap (life of two budget backpackers) and I have to admit that was a very weird, unusual but at the same time interesting sleep I’ve ever had so far.
Did I like it?
It’s not my kind of activity to do, I’m glad I tried it though and I’d probably do it again if I had no other place to sleep.
Apparently it’s very common for businessmen to stop over at the Jjimjilbang for a night after a late meeting (we saw a few).
They are also very popular as weekend getaway for Korean families, for young friends, for couples, for dates and for whoever misses the last run on the tube.
Would you go?