i was quite dreading this particular day actually. it started with the night before, when we were discussing, in our hotel room, whether or not we’d go for the nude hot springs spa at Spa Valley. the tour guide highly recommended us to try it, because you hardly ever get the chance to do such a thing except when you travel. besides, the effect on the spa is much more when one is shamelessly naked, compared to when one is modestly clothed.
unlike in several hot springs in Japan though, the nude section of Spa Valley is separate for male and female. so while jeremy and my mum was dead set on going, my dad and i were not. but egged on by my mum, queen of psycho, the both of us ended up deciding to go.
that didn’t mean i was any less nervous about the whole experience though. in fact, i started obsessively worrying about every single thing that could possibly go wrong and embarrass me more than i already was in that vulnerable state.
the hardest part was the changing out of clothes. the person who designed the place was so brilliant that he forgot to include change rooms all together. so people who were going to the nude spa, and people who were going to the regular family pools, all had to get naked in the same common area at the lockers.
haha there was a cute mei mei in our tour group, about 6 years old, and when her mum told her to take off her clothes to change, she immediately exclaimed, “what??? in front of everyone??? but everyone will see me!!!”
see how even a pre-pubertal girl also knows how embarrassing it can be.
the whole time there, i kept my eyes strictly at eye level with everyone else, never (blatantly) below that. of course, when i first entered the hot springs, i was so amazed at how open everyone was. i seriously considered using my mum as a shield on the walk up and all the way until i was well submerged into the water. but i realized that it’d make it even more awkward that it already is.
the first pool we had to enter was the 40-45 degrees one. took all the guts in the world to plunge into it straight away without slowly dipping my feet into the scorching hot water. and not long later, it was time to switch to the cold pool. that was an even harder transition because the water was freezing cold at 0 degrees. felt like i had jumped from the titanic into the ocean.
haha i think we Singaporeans made the most noise, jumping from pool to pool, that we attracted alot of stares from all the korean ladies around.
my mum paid 30000W each for both of us to get our bodies scrubbed. tour guide highly recommended this also, because he said we’ll get to see just how much dirt there is on our bodies, despite how well/much we claim to bathe each day.
when it was up for me to get scrubbed, i was greeted by a kindly ajuma, and she told me to lie down, feet apart. extremely awkward position i tell you, and it got worse when she began her vigorous scrub down.
there’s no other way to describe this than by telling to imagine as if someone used sandpaper and tried to file your skin smooth.
and the whole time from start to finish, she was shouting, very loudly, and non-stop in a manner bordering on obscene-pornographic:
OH MY GAWWWDDDD! SO DIRTYYYYYY! OH MY GAWWDDDD! SINGAPORE WOMAN SO DIRTYYYYYY!
and yes, i was quite sure she had managed to use up her entire collection of english vocab in that 10 minutes.
all her shouting about being dirty was not for nothing though. she got me to look at all the eraser dust-like dead skin she managed to scrub out. and it was so amazing that i actually have that much dirt on my body, even places like the underside of my arm also have!!
after completing the back and front scrub down, she gave me an excruciating back massage, and face massage (i was fearing for my already flat nose being further flattened). then she put a seaweed and yoghurt mask on my face and let me go, all shiny and smooth!
i’m not kidding you, my skin was as smooth as baby’s skin after that. i’ve never felt more clean in my whole life. the tour guide said though, that once you’ve been scrubbed this clean, any bit of dirt that starts to accumulate on you will itch the hell out of you in future. so this scrubbing business really has to be done regularly and not on a prn basis.
no worries though, my mum seemed to have stocked up on a lifelong supply of scrub towels that we can easily find at any convenience store in Korea. i’ve also checked the Seoul Mart here, and yes, they do have the scrubbing towels (20 pcs for $1.50) so not to worry at all!
i’ve tried scrubbing a week later, but i see nothing coming out. i think the ajuma must have been so efficient at scrubbing out 22 years worth of dead skin that i might have to wait awhile longer before i can scrub again.
so even if you haven’t been to a spa of any sort, you don’t have to do it the hard way by getting naked in front of everyone. you can simply buy one of these scrub cloths, and go home and try it for yourself! stay in the shower for a good long 10-20 mins prior to scrubbing to allow your pores to open and skin to soften sufficiently, then start scrubbing and exclaiming to yourself, “OHHH MY GAWDDD….SO DIRTYYYY”
must say Spa Valley was worth it though! felt very sleepy after that from all the steam, but wah so shiokkk!
for lunch, we had a seemingly extravagant 13 course meal at a restaurant nearby. however, quantity does not translate to quality. and our of the 13 dishes, i only really enjoyed 1 or 2. and frankly, the other meals in the trip were much better.
and it was only today, that we found out that some of the coffee machines, found at the cashier in nearly every restaurant in Korea, is actually free!!!
where there are free things, Singaporeans’ eyes light up and begin to take advantage.
even when you have to pay for it, it only costs 100W, that’s like 15 cents, and a third of the price i pay for vending machine coffee in NUS, where if i’m unlucky, i get a dead cockroach swimming in it.
i miss korea ):
after lunch, we travelled to a strawberry farm in the suburbs of Muju to pick some Korean Strawberries!!
i hate hate hate strawberries, but the exception to this rule is if the strawberries are from Korea. if you’ve eaten them before, you’d know what i mean. they are amazingly sweet! and at the farm, it’s a dream for strawberry lovers because you can pluck and eat them along the way!
due to the fact that it was the end of the season, the farmer wasn’t too concerned with us picking more strawberries that the allocated box. previously, we were only supposed to pick 100g = 5 strawberies wtf. so upon hearing that we could fill the entire box, plus pop some in our mouth along the way, the Singaporeans that we were, went CRAZY!
i think the farmer also very happy cos we help him vanquish his entire (end of season substandard) crop. then he doesn’t have to pick them himself.
for the rest who ended up picking strawberries enough to fill 2 boxes, the farmer was kind enough to help them clingwrap the overflowing container of strawberries.
but because the strawberries are rapidly perishable upon contact with heat, we had to finish eating them before we left for Singapore. so after 3 consecutive nights of strawberries for supper, i think i’m going to stay away from them for a long time to come…
following that, we visited Maisan Provincial park, which is located adjacent to Mt Maisan. The mountains are twin peaks, resembling that of horse ears, though i can hardly see how anyone could have thought of that. they just look like mountains to me.
Further up from the park, there were the Tapsa temples. It features many pagodas built from native rocks by a scholar who had a lot of free time and basically decided to stack rocks on top of each other. and for 30 years, he built 108 rock towers, though only 80 remain today because some itchy fingers went to knock them down.
we were up in the mountainous region of Muju by then, and as night fell, the temperature started to drop to 10 degrees or even below that. absolutely freezing outside and i forgot to bring the thick jacket that i borrowed from chubby!
so luckily we had this hot stew dinner to warm our insides. together with a shot of soju (i only sipped a mouthful because it tasted so disgusting), it helped to rid the body chills.
later that night, we checked into the supposedly best hotel of the entire 8 days: the Muju Tirol Hotel. this hotel is even more special and renown because Michael Jackson almost wanted to buy the entire hotel over.
though, why it’s an “almost”, wasn’t told to us hahaha!
and i can see why people would love it here. it’s not like any of the hotels i’ve been to in my life. it’s an Austrian-themed hotel, which also functions as a ski resort in the Winter. tour guide tricked us into waking up extra early to go out and see the skiing area because he said we might be able to see some leftover snow.
my ass la, one flake also dont have.
check out the rooms!
it’s like the size of 3 single beds omg!!!! i dont even have enough body to fill up the space, even after sharing the bed with my mum!
i try not to think about this bed when im back in my single bed at home…but memories of it keep creeping back.
jeremy and i went out in the freezing 8 degrees at night to explore the surrounding area. it’s one of the more westernized hotels in Korea i know of because we found Popeyes! and all the other signs of restaurants and shops are all in English.
we even found a nightclub! it looked open so we went in to explore. the ajuma who was cleaning some stuff on the first floor told us we could go upstairs to look. and since that’s where the music was coming from, we decided to check out the party.
scully we go upstairs, it’s nothing but pitch darkness with just a disco ball spinning round and music blasting. there is not a single soul there.
so freaky!!!! ZAO AH!!!!!!!
overall though, i’m still not used to the completely unfamiliar layout. i still prefer the state of the art plasma tvs that i get in the other hotels, not like the 1980s computer monitor TV they gave over here.
and when it gets dark, the room actually kinda gave me the creeps because it feels so antique. i’d trade this 6 star hotel for any of the other hotels any day.
their only redeeming quality, aside from the bed, was this piece of modern technology!
they like to have this in the hotel toilets in Korea, and i got so used to this that i had to visit the Raffles City toilet soon after i returned from Korea to use the bidet at the shokudo toilet lol!!
the tour guide even taught us how to relieve constipation using this handy device! haha won’t share too much because it’s rather graphic. if you want to know, i can teach you 😛
more pictures we took the next morning of Muju Tirol. it looks more comforting in the day, definitely.
more updates on the next day of the korea trip soon! for now, i’m going to play with my macbook pro WHEE HEE HEE!