My south korean experiences

korean sauna

No waste of time, my south korean trip is starting. Temperature is far lower than in Australia (0° C or 32° F). I am having only a short to wear.

6.00 am, I am in Seoul. I hardly find my way. Few signs are written in english. However, I am feeling, for an instant, at home. I am surrounded by “Paris baguette” and “Paris croissant” shop.

I aim at meeting up with my friend Younghwa.

I decide to call her. I look for a phone box around me. I see one. My 20, 50 and 100 won coins (south korean currency) arenot working. It accepts only 500 coin. I attempt to get some change from an old cigarettes seller. He is running his business in a small shop (I’d rather call it a box) close to the bus station. He refuses to talk to me. I try to call with my cellphone. Impossible! South koreans use another mobile technology. Nobody seems to be in a mood to give me a hand. I don’t give up. I come accross a college student who can speak english. She gets me out of this trap giving me a 500 coin.

I feel like disturbing people asking for my way. South Koreans (I’d rather say Asians) look like yielding at you answering your question. Wrong idea! You always get surprised the first time.

I meet up with my friend at 8.00 am.

On Sunday afternoon, Younghwa, her roomate and I are going to the sauna.

Hard workers, south koreans care about their health. Free-using training gear are available in any park, sometimes even in the street. As a global city, Seoul is stressful and polluted. Sauna, called Jimjilbang in south korean, is an excellent alternative to escape from all of that.

I am convinced their eating habits, made of fresh food as vegetables, fish and seafood, is the result of their longevity secret. That’s why, sometimes, you get fresh squid for breakfast. Not that easy the first time but you get used to it.

Let’s go back to our sauna.

I spend the first hour relaxing in hammam. Everything is doing well. Then I am going to a single-sex room to take warm baths. This part of the sauna requires to be nude. Usually, I amnot shy. Coming into the room, I feel men glance men on me. It must be surprising for them. They mustnot be used to see a naked french man. I feel uncomfortable men only staring at one part of my body.

Only kids are next to me in the bath. I don’t understand why. An adult comes and shouts at me. Depending on my previous experience, he just wants to talk. Another father, speaking english, explains to me that I amnot allowed to be in this bath. It’s for kids only. Probably not the best way to get along with them.

I wish I could have learnt signing at school. According to me, it’s the best universel language.

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