Ode to the naked
Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
38Trip End Jul 01, 2008
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Well, first, Matt and I got up early to go to the market because today is the 19th and therefore it is market day (any day ending with 4 or 9). It was my first trip; last time Matt went by himself. There were many things to see. All kinds of vegetables, roots, hot peppers, beans, rice, strawberries, apples and every size of orange. Also fish fish FISH! Dried fish, frozen fish, big fish, small fish. Fish tied together in lines, heads of fish, live fish, baskets of fish, red fish, striped fish and seafood of so many varieties you just have no clue what to do with yourself or it. Matt and I got some cheap potatoes, onions, carrots and kimchi. I got a huge basket of cherry tomatoes for only five bucks, I washed them and now I eat them by the handful for snacks.... I am in heaven! Anyways, so many sights and smells, they also have ladies cooking food like chicken, fish and hot peppers in batter and frying it and little cakes and soups. Matt and I got white tubey seafood fried with carrots and onions in a batter, very tasty. I enjoyed the market tho I am still nervous around Korean adults especially when I don't know what to do with most of the food there. At least most of them know English numbers somehow.
So anyways, that was nice and now we have cheap delicious veggies in the house and we made stir fry for supper. But that's not even the good part...
So Matt really wanted to visit the hot springs in the mountains above Changwon, so we packed up our bathing suits and went.. WELL... these Mageum-san (Mt. Maguem) hot springs are at the end of bus route # 10 and fed by real hot springs from within the mountain. Koreans are very fond of them as they are supposed to make you healthy and keep your vitality up as well as making Korean women beautiful. Well, when we arrived we had no idea where to go or what to do, luckily there were some teenagers there who knew a little English and they got us a pass into the spa. They showed us down to the basement, one side for ladies and another for gentleman. So Matt and I looked at one another, took off our shoes and stepped into our appropriate side, thinking you change and then meet on the other side.
BOY WERE WE WRONG! I was met face to face with many naked women getting ready to hit the water! I was encouraged by the attendant to take a tiny towel and follow the women beyond some sliding doors. So there is me, pink as can be in my birthday suit surrounded by at least 30 or more tanned and brown Korean women from 2-82 all washing themselves and each other while soaking in the tubs! I had the nicest tits in the place might I add!
So I was trying not to act like I was retarded and didn't know how to enjoy a hot springs spa when I remembered some advice from my good friend Ashley: "Julia you are foreign and they already think you are crazy so you can do as you please and never be expected to do more, or less" So I just sauntered in shoulders back, breasts held high and got into the water. Boy was it nice and you know, as I sat there and saw the people enjoying the luxurious steam and company I realized that I was partaking in a beautiful ritual. Here young and old scrubbed and bathed each other, dousing one another over the head with the warm water.
Children (very young girls and boys) ran around in their birthday best without a care in the world or sat patiently while they were scrubbed form head to toe. Women washed women, younger washed older and older washed younger. They lounged by the water, dangled feet in, or took turns in front of the soothing spouts. I tried all of them; one I could enjoy only 42 degrees C, but another, which said 45, I could only last in for a minute or two! It was strange but beautiful, odd but blissful. As I sat submerged, an older women, say 80 or so, came to sit by me and, when I got out to sit on the ledge, she looked at me and to my surprise took hold of my pink nipple and gave it a tweak and chuckled hardily to herself, then gestured and laughed some more to the people around her. I laughed too and pretended to show of my pink skin and freckles to those watching our interlude. It was surreal, it was luxurious and it was strange.
After I had enjoyed myself and preened as I saw the other girls do, scrubbing away at myself and just enjoying. Then Matt and I met back together where we left our shoes and headed home. What a day! I felt like I grew up a lot today. I was so scared to take that step into a world that was not my own, and I enjoyed it. I look forward to going back, and to enjoy a primal moment again.
Tee hee, what a day!
ps lucky Matt couldn't see without his glasses so he couldn't see all the eyes staring at him!