Journal log 3: Public bath in Busan
Today was a rainy day in Busan, so we didn’t feel like exploring much. What, we wondered, could make for an enjoyable experience while avoiding being drenched by thousands of water drops?
The following answer out of context might sound surprising: WATER itself!
Yes, we decided to go and relax at one of Busan’s most famous and biggest public baths: HeoSchimChung!
HurShimChung is located in an area called Dongnae, once famous for its hot-springs. According to guide books and the HurShimChung website, the Dongnae area and its hot springs go way back in time, and mentions of them have been found in historical texts as early as A.D. 683 (Confer Moon Handbooks, South Korea, published by Avalon Travel in 2009). If you’d like to read a bit more about the Dongnae hot springs’ history and the legends about their healing properties, have a quick look at the HurShimChung spa’s website (http://www.hotelnongshim.com/eng/html/03_spa/spa_01.php).
Nowadays, spas and public baths in the area still use these natural hot springs as a water supply for the baths, so you’ll have the privilege of bathing in an “alkanine, low-salt” water, rich in magnesium (you’ll have to take their word for it, I unfortunately didn’t have a water-property-analysis kit on me).
If you have chronic muscle pain, you might want to try it just to enjoy a brief moment of total muscle relaxation while floating around.
Back to HurShimChung though! The place is quite huge (it has a capacity of 3,000 people) and offers a variety of baths including a hinoki wood bath, a lemon water bath, a salt water bath and an open-air one, with temperatures varyiang from 39°C to 55°C! There is even a jjimjjlbang sauna you can get access to for an additional 2,000₩. As it is a public bath (although women and men bath are strictly separated), you will have to go around naked, but for the shy ones (like me), do not worry. You might feel concerned beforehand, thinking people will scrutinize you endlessly, but really… no one cares and everybody is minding their own bodies! So give it a try!
Admission time is from 5:30AM to midnight, all year-round, and admission fee is 8,000 on weekdays and 10,000 on weekends and holidays. More importantly, admission fee and extra expenses inside the spa are to be paid upon exiting the premises, so if you decide to buy refreshments inside or treat yourself to a massage, do not forget to bring your locker bracelet so that the bill can be put on your tab. (Note however that people with large tattoos might not be granted access).
To conclude this rather formal presentation of HurShimChung, I’ll just say that going out in the cold was definitely worth it! We enjoyed 3 wonderful hours of pure relaxation, jumping from bath to bath and getting rid of all the stress we had accumulated over the weeks! The experience was so good we decided to return there once a month!
Stay tuned for the next post!
And as a bonus, here is a very naughty picture that I defied the spa authorities to take so you could have a glimpse of the locker room! Yes, I am a terrible person.