Friday, 27 May 2016

Seoul: Jjimjilbang, Fish Market & Dancing

One of the most essential things to experience in Korea is definitely a visit to a jjimjilbang 찜질방 and mogyoktang 모굑탕. So I brought him to Siloam Sauna first thing after breakfast. It cost us each 10,000 won and we first separated into the men and women's shower and hot pool regions. 

We were given a locker with a key to put all our stuff, to strip down to completely nothing except a head towel and proceed (individually) to the single-gendered shower regions.

This time, my awkwardness of being absolutely bare was gone (thanks to last years experience) and to advance my experience in a mogyoktang, I opted for a full body scrub (COMPLETELY NAKED) which is called Saeshin 세신. For women it costed 20,000 won while for men it was 15,000 won which consists of about 20 minutes of vigorous scrubbing my a person of your same sex who is intriguingly in their undies! (they probably get covered in water and dirt anyway so it's probably better).

Within the hot pool area, I wrote my key number down on the board (of the list of ladies waiting for a good scrub) and was soon called to the scrubbing table. She was a very friendly scrubber and proceeded with a rough scrub hand glove on my entire body.

It was slightly painful but it was really nothing to what I had anticipated (it was almost soothing to me). I was shocked at the AMOUNT of dirt that began to collect on my skin and the table itself too.
She then washed all the dirt of me and gave me a nice soap down and a face and head massage as well all included.

Definitely, I feel my body has never been this smooth. I feel like a newborn baby.
Totally recommend this experience to whoever is intrigued by the concept of bare scrubs (sooooo good and worth the money).

I then spent the next hour jumping from hot pool to hot pool and then splashing into the icy cold pool. There was a charcoal pool at about 40 degrees but my favourite was definitely the mugwort 42 degree pool! 

After all that splashing around, I met up with Sam in the communal area and proceeded to the restaurant! we got some spicy squid 오징어 and meat dumplings 고기만두 and a large cup of shikye 식혜 for 15,000 won.

We then spent the rest of the time there hopping from sauna to sauna upstairs on the fourth floor. Samuel was in a sleepy mood so he just remained in the charcoal 22 degree room for a nap while I hopped into the 60 degree jade room and salt room and finally into the -15 degree ice room (super liberating and refreshing). However I already felt so relaxed and warm internally after all the scrubbing and pool soaking that I opted out for the 86 degree sauna room of hell.

We took a stroll down to the Blind Alley Cafe where we got a slice of cheesecake and a iced latte for 10,000 won in total. However, we weren't craving for cake or coffee, it was basically a requirement for us to buy something in the cafe to be able to interact with their raccoons!

It was a raccoon cafe!

When we arrived, the workers were still cleaning up things within the raccoon room so we decided to sit at the table which was right beside the window in which the raccoons were able to be seen. They actually looked really tired and worn out and I was wondering if they were being overplayed with or something. 

When I saw one of the workers coming up to the raccoons, I saw this particular raccoon above attempting to charge at him multiple times as if it was a challenge. I might be totally wrong in my presumption but it looked like the raccoon really didn't like him coming near at all.

This was the second raccoon that they had there (there were only two which wasn't what we expected). We finally gained access into the raccoon room and were given bits of food to feed to the raccoons themselves. They ran away from most of us unless they saw the food in our hands. Interestingly though they were already trained to put their paw into our hands if we said '손 주세요' which means please give me your hand - in which the raccoon proceeded to eat the treats we had.

At the end of our raccoon adventure, the raccoons began to go mental when they saw the brooms and started jumping onto them (Personally have no idea why but it definitely didn't give a notion that the raccoons were being treated well). Personally, I wouldn't recommend people going there, yes the raccoons were cute and all but I didn't leave the cafe feeling that happy about the raccoons to be honest.

Sam and I then headed to Noryangjin Fish Market 노량진 수산 시장 - the famous huge market which is open 24 hours selling delicious seafood and is most busy at 4-6 AM where restaurants buy their fresh produce!

Aunties and uncles were clammering for us to buy their produce especially the crabs. Finally we met one uncle (아주씨) who I managed to get a relatively good deal with with whatever Korean I could muster. 35,000 won for a 1.5 kg Korean crab and two live baby octopus 산낙지 sannakji

One lady then brought us to their restaurant just around the block where they prepared the food we just bought for an additional 11,000 won. This was our first experience of eating raw sannakji! It was seasoned with sesame oil and sesame seeds and was still squirming in the plate (due to the nerves which were still active) and it was delicious! For those who like raw fish, I would totally recommend it to you! It's really fresh, chewy and yummmm.

Behold our Steamed Mr. Crab!

Which was so juicy and full of delicious fresh meat. It was really a delicious meal. After scoffing down the succulent crab meat, we took the subway to Itaewon 이태원 which became a nightmare (mostly my fault). We took the metro from Noryangjin to Yongsan (the immediate next station) and didn't realise we had to leave the metro to switch it as it was going to turn back to Noryangjin (for some reason). So we actually headed right back to Noryangjin. 

So then finally we had to go from Noryangjin to Yongsan, switch the metro to Seoul Station 서울역, switch the metro to Samgakji 삼각지 and switch once again to get to Itaewon (absolute nightmare but it worked..walking might have even been faster).

The main reason was to visit Minha 민하오빠 at his workplace - Jr Pub which was just around the  corner from the workplace. We ordered some drinks and chicken wings and Sam and I just hung around the bar while occasionally chatting to Minha when he wasn't busy serving people (which really wasn't that often).

So instead we got chatting to many other foreigners and locals who were there too! Americans, Germans, French, Filipino, Thai, you name it! And we were dancing for the whole night till maybe half two in the morning (absolute fantabulous DJ in my opinion - ok not that perfect but he did a good job).

Sam then soon became an old man and I could see we should head back to the hostel. Sam bid goodbye to Minha as Sam will be returning to Malaysia on Sunday and I will hopefully be able to meet up with Minha one more time when I'm back in Seoul in the second week of June.

We then went out to the main street to catch a taxi back but it was impossible! Every taxi was pre-booked by someone else and my phone had absolutely no battery to call for one. Thankfully there was an amazing girl who was near me, Kim Ari 김 아리 who offered to share a taxi with us as her destination was near to ours! She then called numerous times for a taxi to come pick us up which finally did! The taxi driver guy was amazing, chatty and had relatively good English too which made it all the funnier. He kept complimenting Sam and I but it was really a blessing that we met her or else I would have no idea how we would have gotten a taxi. 

Unfortunately she only had 2000 won cash on her and I didn't exactly have the app for splitting the taxi bill. So without realising she paid for the whole bill with her card when we got to her stop first which cost her almost 10,000 won and we only had to pay about 7,000 won to get to our hostel!
The taxi driver also made it really easy for me to communicate with and we even talked about his family and the kind of passengers he liked and didn't like. 

Today was amazing.
Good food
Cood relaxation at the mogyoktang and jjimjilbang
Great night out with the brother and some new friends.

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