Thursday, March 17, 2011

Facials, anyone?

Today I went hiking around Yecheon to take pictures (which I will post soon!). As I was heading back to my apartment, I noticed this store that I'd been eying for a while. I couldn't figure out what it was. It said words like "skin" and "beauty," so I figured it was probably a beauty product store... But the windows were covered and I couldn't see inside. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I had some extra time, so I stopped in.

Turns out it's a spa...or something like that. They do facials, and possibly colon cleanses. (I kept seeing pictures of an illustrated lady on a toilet next to prices, so I can only assume...) I asked "massaji?" as I put my hands up in a "huh?" gesture. A massage. I've been wanting a cheap one for a while now. She said no back massages, only face. Well she didn't actually say this. She spoke in Korean and gestured a bunch. I had to assume. "Eolmayeyo?" I said, asking how much a facial would be. She sat me down at a small table and poured me a cup of tea as she pointed at prices posted on the table. 200,000. 195,000 (About $200). These were the types of numbers I was seeing. This and that lady on the toilet. I was NOT about to pay that much and end up with a colon cleanse! I asked how much ONE facial ONLY was as I grabbed a calculator for her to type in the number. She typed in 15,000 as she signaled "one" with her index finger, then touched her face. I said, "Ne! Ne!" (Yes! Yes!). Oh yeah, that's the kind of price I'm talkin' about. I somehow managed to get across to her that I was an English teacher ("yong-o sansengneem") and had class soon, but I would return directly after. I left praying that I had signed up for what I thought I had signed up for. And that I wasn't going to be surprised with a 200,000 won bill...

At 4:45, I returned, took my shoes off at the door and was immediately led behind a screen to the "locker room." I put my things inside an unlocked locker, and was told--or gestured--to take my top off and put a skirt over... my boobies. It was a skirt! With a stretchy waist band and everything. Luckily, the pants got to stay on. I then entered the facial room. There was a woman lying on one of the tables with--I kid you not--a facial mask an inch thick on her face. It covered her completely. Eyes, mouth. The only things visible were her two tiny nostrils. Oh, hell yeah, I thought to myself, as I climbed onto the heated table and under the blanket.

It started with some lotion on the face and a gentle massage. She did my shoulders, too. She kept adding different lotions and would lightly beat at my skin. At certain points, I really wished I could see what she was doing (there were these pads over my eyes), because I could not understand how two hands could create some of those effects. It was amazing. She then rolled down the blanket and, without any warning, tugged downward at the "skirt" covering me and I was suddenly exposed. All the while, pads were still covering my eyes. I just felt vulnerable. Koreans have no shame when it comes to nudity, I tell ya. I tried to just relax as she started massaging my upper chest. PLEASE don't touch them, I kept thinking over and over in my head. She kneaded into several pressure points on my sternum and finally pulled the blanket back up and over me. I once again relaxed into the warm table...

After that, things got better and better. Well, except for when she pulled out her zit-zapping tool and went at it, forcefully dispelling the gook from my "troubled areas." I just cringed the entire time and tried to be as tough as I could, though the pain was pretty dang intense. But then came the 1-inch mask. It was soothing. And she told me it was made from nogcha--green tea. It smelled absolutely incredible. After I was all slathered up, she zipped these sacks onto each of my legs and they started massaging me. Heaven.

An hour and a half later, I was finally done. I felt wonderful. The lady at the front sat me down and poured me another cup of tea. Then came the moment of truth. I tried to confirm the price she had told me, and she just nodded her head...But I was still nervous as I handed her my card. There's no way all of that could only be $15... Oh, but it was. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw that my receipt confirmed this. And in Korea, you don't tip. It's weird if you do. So that's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned. I whipped out my phone and searched in my Korean-English dictionary for the translation of "weekly."

Yep. I am now scheduled to receive a 1.5-hour facial/massage every week for a grand total of $60 monthly. Jealous...?

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