I can say that one of the best ways of spending my morning is by being at Spa World, USA where I pass time by steaming, getting scrubbed, bathing, and being at the mercy of person assigned to give me a shiatsu massage.
The place is a Korean-styled bathhouse, also known as jimjilbang, and is an example of the currently booming bathhouses all over the world that evolved from the centuries-old tradition of public bathhouses in Korea. To get there, head to the modest strip mall off Route 28 in Centreville, VA (DC Metro Area) and look for the entrance that looks like a quaint restaurant but prepare yourself for what you will see because it looks small on the outside but it is definitely bigger on the inside.
It is open 24/7 and has a Korean restaurant, rooms for sleeping and smoking, locker rooms, a gym and a childcare center. But for a first timer (and probably those who frequent the place), the bade pool, saunas, crystal amethyst rooms, salt rooms, blue onyx rooms, and massage rooms are the areas which you should definitely spend the most time on. Unlike massage parlors, you have the freedom to stay and sleep over without anyone raising their eyebrows at you for doing so. And if you happen to be around Koreans when you pay a visit, don’t be surprised should you chance upon their party-loving ways.
My mother went with me when I first visited the place to get a massage. We went inside the hardwood-floored women’s locker rooms, which had leather furniture aside from the expected lockers. We then went to have a deep tissue, or shiatsu, massage upstairs after leaving our stuff in the lockers and changing into the provided outfits. A little warning though: if you are fainthearted, you might want to skip this and go for other activities instead. But should you decide to try it out, I bet you would agree with me in saying that the pain is oh so worth it. When I saw my mom after her session, messy hair, relaxed appearance and all, I asked her how she felt and she said she felt amazing.
The second time I went there, alone this time, I opted to get a full-day access to facilities by paying $35 and added $50 for the shiatsu massage and went to change into an orange outfit which will remind anyone of prison garbs. Hey, if I’ll be a prisoner in this place, I won’t mind it at all.
I first went to get massaged and a petite lady attended to me, applying power to my legs and back with accuracy. At first it was obviously painful but once I felt the adrenaline rush, I forgot all about the pain and I felt nothing but pleasure.
Afterwards, I went to the bade pool where nudity is a must. Yes, you read that right. It’s time to go skinny dipping. If you are on the conservative side like me (yes, liberated folks, we are not yet extinct), the idea of swimming nude together with other people in their birthday suits is uncomfortable. Once I reached the changing rooms, I saw women of different statures and age groups who were already stripping and looked relaxed with everything happening around them. After a much needed deliberation and pep talk with myself, I jumped in on the bandwagon and headed into the bade pool, where I felt much more relaxed after the shiatsu massage. According to Spa World, their bade pool is a state of the art water therapy and to fully experience it, you can follow the routine they set up which includes spending several minutes on every part of the pool which has different kinds of fountains and jets offering different kinds of hydrotherapy.
Being conservative and feeling a bit like a puddle of goo thanks to the shiatsu massage, I was fine with just being in the bubble jet area and observe. I noticed that no one was really mindful of the fact that everyone was naked and since the pools were separated by gender, peeping toms had no opportunity to do what they love most so I eventually became comfortable in my birthday suit. When a large group entered the pool and looked as if they were following the prescribed routine, I decided to move so that they would have access to the bubble jets. I went to the Dream Bath, which lived up to its name due to the high-pressured water streams flowing through my shoulders, waist, calves, and soles. As much as I wanted to stay there for all eternity, I was conscious of the group who followed the routine fast so I knew I had to move again. I made my way to the Hydro Jet, where I stood and jets of water massaged me from my shoulders to my toes and at all sides. The perfect place to end my session at the bade pool, which was cut shorter than I wanted it to be by the same group who moved from station to station rather quickly.
I changed back into the orange suit and went into the poultice rooms, which looked like rather large earth igloos instead and contained different designs depending on the kind. The Amethyst room, the only poultice room I went into, housed amethyst, rose quartz, and green quartz in its walls which, they said, gives off oscillating energy waves. Staying there made me sweaty but I’m not really sure if it was due to those waves. I spent time just looking around and forgot about everything else and when I felt dizzy and light-headed, I realized I stayed there too long.
I headed to their restaurant and got chicken wings and bubble tea to complete the experience. Of course, if you have been to any Korean restaurant, you know that chicken wings are classic and even if there were other food choices, I still ordered the wings and it was worth it, seeing that I scarfed down everything on my own. Like a pig, I passed out on the couch I sat on after eating and woke up after 2 hours, with nobody shaking me awake. Everybody minded their own business and I can say that that 2 hours sleep was the best one I had as far as I can remember.
Because of my commitments, I knew it was time to go. I felt sad removing my orange suit and changing back into my normal clothes. Walking towards the front desk to get my shoes and go back to the real world that is living in Virginia and its sights was a reality I wished I can postpone but I can’t. But no worries, I swear I will be back to the paradise that is Spa World.