bbmm shunde 02

No social or other obligations, so we stayed in to enjoy our tea and coffee. Played a bit of marble game too. Still full from last night so we ended up skipping lunch.

The main itinerary for today was to go to the massage place. Had full body and foot massage for 4hrs. Ate 3 oranges and 2 bowls of herbal jelly as sort of lunch substitute. My muscles completely ache all over now. Surprisingly, I thought my left leg where the ITBS is would hurt, but it didn’t. I got a long lower feet and hand/arm massage though, that was sorely needed.

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On the way to town we saw a sign for a lamb place so we went there for dinner. Hotpot with all sorts of lamb parts that can be ordered. We had the set, which included sliced lamb, bones, belly, offal, claypot rice and green vegetables. Would have loved to try some more, like blood or marrow or placenta, but too full.

The gas meter was fixed, so there’s hot water. And now the washing machine isn’t working. Argh. Too sore from the massage, and no internet so I was asleep by 10pm.

massage that hurts

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I went over to the massage place to have a body massage—I haven’t been for probably 1-2 years and there’s still credit on my account.

It’s not one of those soothing massage that makes you go ahhhh and fall asleep. This one hurt. The therapist focused on my problem areas—lower back, arms and calves. He hit the pressure points way too well, some spots were really painful. But I know it’s for the good.

Even though I roller my back all the time, there’s still a lot of stiffness and soreness all around because of modern living, posture and running. I wish I can remember to go more often, if only to get my lower legs and especially the IT band loosened occasionally. The left arm and wrist, well they won’t get better so quickly or readily unfortunately.

101.1001 #86 | 30.30 #19 bbmm activity: korean spa jjimjibang

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Task #83 of 101.1001 and task #19 of 30in30 is to do a new activity with mm. We are in seoul for holiday and as soon as we got off the plane and deposited our luggage at the hotel, we headed to a jjimjibang spa to rest and pamper ourselves. We got the deluxe package at KRW100,000 (USD100). We ended up staying from 10am to 5pm so it was worth it.

The spa says it’s the largest in Korea. At a sprawling 7 floors I can believe it. There are sauna, steam areas, baths, massage rooms, sleeping rooms, relaxation hall, restaurants, a rooftop garden, internet café even a cinema.

First we got keys to our locker. The key was a regular locker key as well as a smartchip that recorded any purchases or treatments. We had a quick shower at the large bath area. Korean baths are like Japanese baths, sexes are segregated and you don’t wear anything inside except a small towel to strategically cover certain areas.

First stop of our treatment was the herbal steam bath. We were seated on wooden stools with an opening in the middle. The herbs and water were heated and the steam rose up through the opening. We were covered in a sort of plastic tent to keep the steam in. Quite surreal, the herbs smelled really nice though.

After the shower and steam we changed into standard issue pajamas—t-shirt and shorts. Everyone inside the facility was dressed in these pajamas. The massage part was 90mins of a mix of acupressure and thai style. The young technician got almost every troublesome spot in my shoulders, lower back, arms and definitely hit the ITB around my left knee.

At the end of the massage it was around 1pm so time for lunch. The spa had a cafeteria and 2 restaurants. We went to the self-service korean restaurant and had tofu soup and beef rib soup. Came with banchans and I had a tasteless beer.

We found massage chairs in the main hall and fell asleep for around 1.5hrs. One of the features of traditional korean spas is the sight of people asleep at sleeping rooms and areas. Admission is 24hrs so some people stay the night.

Then it was time to check out the heat rooms. The traditional pine scented one was so hot inside we could barely walk, our soles were burning up. Lasted 10 seconds inside there, max. The himalayan salt room was a pleasant 52°C, blankets were provided so we lay down and rested on pink salt crystals. The charcoal heated rooms were good too, we went into the high temperature one, around the same as the salt room. In between rooms, we sat in the ice room to cool down, and then on the floor.

Last stop was the baths area. There was a steam room and half a dozen baths at different temperatures. We like the outdoor ones for the fresh air, the ones with jetstream massage and the cold 24°C cooling pool.

Great day, and the perfect cure for a night spent on a red-eye flight.

korea trip day 01

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Early start, flight at 1am arrived 5.30am. Didn’t get much sleep on the plane, slow moving immigration meant we were out at arrivals after 7am. After a little walking around, we finally found the right stop for the airport bus to take us to our hotel. Trip was over 1hr, so we managed to nap a bit.

Way too early to check into hotel, so we left our luggage and headed to the subway. Got a t-money (like octopus) and our brains weren’t working, we initially only filled up for KRW1,000 (USD1.00). Hahaha. Caught the mistake easily. The destination was dragon hill spa, a traditional korean spa occupying 7 floors of a building. There were spas, steam rooms, dry heat rooms, saunas, massages, restaurants, resting area and even arcade games and a rooftop garden. We went for the massage package at KRW100,000 (USD100) including 30mins of herbal steam bath, 90mins of acupressure massage. The steam bath was interesting, and the massage was excellent. Lunch was typical korean food of tofu soup and beef rib soup. We got to the spa around 10am and we left at 5pm. Lots and lots to do in term of rest, pampering and relaxation.

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We took the subway at rush hour back to our hotel area at Ewha Women’s University. The night street vendors were just starting and we grabbed a bowl of extremely spicy tteokbokki (aka topoki) and freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.

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Hunting around the street market area looking for dinner led us to a homely upstairs place serving tofu hotpot with spicy squid. Wow, food in korea is hot! The tofu was wonderfully silken. Of course, walking back to the hotel we saw many other restaurants, but we were happy with our choice. Popped into a supermarket to get water and green tea for the next few days.

The hotel is new, it’s more like a serviced apartment with a small kitchenette, a full sized fridge, a washing machine, a closet and even a shoe cupboard. Happy with our choice and happy to be settled in early.

massage

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Spa day. Was shopping with mm a few weeks ago and she stopped at one of those aromatherapy places. They had a trial promotion for massages, so we booked for a trial at < a href=”http://www.alqvimia.com” title=”alqvimia”>alqvimia. I’m more used to standard massages that are more muscle manipulation (ie more painful) than these oil-slathering type of massage. First, the therapist checked for which type of oil would suit my type, then she put on soothing music and I got 60mins of a nice relaxing massage. It was okay, I felt no different afterwards. I probably won’t go again, too expensive.

massage day

queenspa

We took the train, 45mins, went through two vastly different immigration checkpoints (one side fully electronic with fingerprint sensor, the other a scramble and long queue), checked in with the counter at the station and within minutes were at the queen spa complex. Seven levels of relaxation, wow.

First, we were directed to the lockers where we were given a security wristband with a number. This number will be used at the end to settle up. Then it was time for sauna, steam room and a shower before changing into the uniform pajamas. Then the fun begins. The menu had a selection of body massage, facial, hand, foot, head, back massages as well as manicures, pedicures and even hairdressing. One floor was massage, another was the pool, the main lobby had huge armchairs with personal tv sets.

We opted for 90min body massage. It’s pretty standard, my muscles were sore afterwards because it’s been a while for me. There were free fruit, ice cream, snacks, tea, coffee and soft drinks. After the massage it was time for dinner. Again there were choices — the main restaurant upstairs, the smaller restaurant on the main floor or sit at the armchairs and order noodles. The food was good, relatively expensive.

Head and foot massage for 90mins after dinner. By then it was 10.30pm and we’d been there over 5hrs. Total bill including tips worked out to be just over £100 for 2 people. The tip situation is always awkward, they push for big tips and give limited choice on the slip you sign at the end of each procedure. The smallest amount is already 30% of the cost of the massage and it goes up to several times the cost. Reading the reviews it seems to be a persistent issue and I won’t be surprised that westerners or people who can’t read have been scammed into giving a biggest available tip amount.

Although called a spa, and having the usual spa facilities, it’s too family like, noisy and busy to be truly relaxing. Staff are polite but quite in-your-face. It’s the nature of the beast I suppose. Go without expectations, know what you want and it will be a good experience.

bowling and crabs, oh my

mm and I went bowling today. We hadn’t been for years and years and years … last time was at Heathrow, I’m not sure if there is a bowling place there anymore. Our scores were dismal — I scored 97 and 75 while mm scored 64 and 74. Time was, I never went below 100. We need more practice.

After bowling we went for body massage. Boy was I stiff, this time when the therapist pushed my pressure points it really hurt. Much better now.

Early dinner at the Thai place — tom yum kung, chilli crab, mixed veg, chicken hor fun (enough leftover for my lunch tomorrow) and dessert. Buy one get one free Singha beer too.

Did my grocery shopping and took the minibus home. Showered and done by 9.30pm — that’s the sort of early night I like.

#55 get a facial

I went for massage in some shape or form for 4 days in a row. Foot massage, spa massage, lymphatic drainage and then facial at L’Occitane. I was feeling quite miserable cos of the throat infection. It was a “Velvety Apple Almond” course. Cleanser, then…oh sweetness…10mins of STEAM treatment!!! It was supposed to be for my face, and both my face and my throat was ever so grateful. A little bit of pain as the therapist squeezed the blackheads off my nose, then a couple of masks. Feeling good afterwards.

spa day

It’s mm’s birthday. We went to a spa at one of the big hotels. Very tastefully and serenely decorated, with tea served as soon as we arrived and peaceful ambient music throughout.

We went for a 3 hour package. Started with foot massage — foot spa, massage itself then a mud wrap. Then hot stone massage and facial. The first time we had hot stone massage was in Bangkok after the Kenya trip. It was much needed, really great and relaxing. Nothing since then has compared. I fell asleep somewhere between the massage and facial, totally missing the facial experience. The next thing I knew, the therapist was peeling the mask off. Heh.

We had a little time to spare so we enjoyed the hot pool, sauna and steam room. Pretty decent.

Dinner with her family at the usual restaurant. Good to have a pampering day.

no post today

In the spirit of bb,

No BBtv today, we’re slacking off

there’s no real post today, I’m slacking off. What? If boingboing can do it, and they are the directory of wonderful things remember, so can I. No lolcat-cute picture of a band of kittens, here’s a picture of the outdoor spa area at the Marriott Mumbai.

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birthday pampering

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Met mm for lunch at our usual Korean restaurant, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day. After lunch we went to our hairdresser’s to get our hair cut, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day.

mm treated me to spa at the Four Seasons; and I treated her to dinner at the Marriott — those were the pampering for the day.

She’d booked a 90-minute relaxation massage for both of us. We got there 1.5hrs early to use the other amenities. The pampering started with the shower — not only rainforest, but 6 jets from the side. Then it was soaking in a large semi-oval whirlpool with waterfall feature. Sauna and aromatherapy steam room too. The relaxation room had reclining beds, personal TV screen and 3 choices of juices.

When it was time for the massage, we were led to the treatment area and allowed for rest for a few minutes. Initially we booked a double room but for some reason it wasn’t possible. It didn’t matter cos basically I fell asleep shortly after the massage started. I dunno, sometimes I wish I could stay awake during massages to fully appreciate it but other times I’m glad I’m relaxed enough to sleep. It included a hot stone treatment and I woke up for a minute during that.

After the massage we lounged around munching on dried fruit and hot tea. Then it was back to the steam room for one final soak before showering. Everything was available — robes, towels, shampoo, lotion, mousse.

Dinner wasn’t as pampering. We hadn’t been to lunch or dinner buffet for a long time. We agreed that even though it was at the Marriott, the standard isn’t as high as before. Or our expectations have risen up several notches. There was a giant seafood counter, but that was about it as far as wow factor went. It was a nice dinner though, it was great to spend time together and do something special to celebrate our birthdays.

eat and sleep

It’s one of those indulgence days.

Met mm for lunch. We were talking about it on Thursday and agreed on the Korean restaurant. Now looking back, we never actually talked about which Korean restaurant (out of many in the area) but we both knew where to go. We had cold noodles and oxtail soup. The noodles were very nice, and we’d order it again definitely.

After lunch we took the bus to the acupuncturist’s place. I hadn’t been since November, and got a small disapproving look from the nurse. My original reason — a terrible unending migraine — hadn’t returned. But I’m sure the reason behind the headache — stress — is still there.

We could have gone shopping but we decided to go for foot massage instead. Ah, so nice. I fell asleep, as usual.

Dinner at a wood-smoke oven place. The starters, Waldorf salad and cream of pumpkin soup, were good. But the wood-smoked steak was horrible. Not tough, the other way round and that’s because it’s been treated with baking soda to make it tender. Problem is, it takes the flavour and texture completely away. Disappointing. Even a free tiramisu won’t persuade us to return.

So, simple day full of eating and pampering. Nice.

back, neck, wrist

I visited an orthopedic chiropractor today, to have my neck and wrist pain looked at. No surprise that I’m stiff and my vertabrae are out of place. In fact, my #4, 5 and 6 vertebrae seem to have slipped from their positions. I know the area around my lower back is problematic too, but that wasn’t the focus today.

First a technician (that’s the best description I can come up with for the lady in the white coat) “worked” me up — a 15 minute therapeutic massage on my neck, shoulder and arms. Not the comfortable spa massages, oh no. This one was painful. She was strong.

Then to the doctor’s office. I sat in what looked like a barber’s chair while he manipulated and pressed on what was presumably acupuncture points all along my neck, the joint between my upper arm and my shoulder and down along my arm. Then he rubbed some “energy” into the top of my head and my left ear. It felt hot and stinging actually. Right now I hurt all over, but I think I will sleep easy tonight and will be better in the morning. Going back on Thursday.

pain in healing

We go for foot massages regularly, well we try to anyway. The massage place also offers body and other forms of massage. Today I had a body massage, but I was so stiff that the therapist suggested that I tried cupping, followed by ear candling / lymphatic massage. Not the usual.

Now, what is cupping? I’d read about it before, but never tried. watch a video demonstration.

The therapist put the vacuumed cup on my back and pushed it up and down. Dude, that hurt! Then he put the individual cups on the skin and pumped out the air. I could feel the skin tighten up and heat up. It was a little painful but manageable. Anyway I only had them on for about 5 minutes. At any one time there was about 5 cups, then he released them and moved to another spot.

Lymphatic massage went with the ear candling. It was quite painful too, especially when the therapist moved to the nodes under my arms. She said I was quite tight there. By the time she moved to the ear candling, I was fast asleep.

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Now I can still feel the effects of the cupping. There are angry looking circles all over my upper back and they feel sore and hot. Having said that it was an interesting experience. I’m sure it’s good for me too.

worship and shopping

I went to church with mm this morning. Got out of bed at 8.20am on a sunday morning. I wanted to make the effort, since it means so much to her.

The chapel at the Catholic Centre was small, and almost full when we got there. She’s in the choir so I had to sit on my own. Luckily the lady directing traffic found me a seat near the choir, actually it was just behind them, I was settled.

Good service. The Irish father talked about the story of the reluctant prophet Jonah and how he was supposed to have survived 3 days in the belly of a whale. Sometimes I gotta laugh at how people who wrote the Bible treated these stories as if they’re real. It’s a metaphorical whale, people. But still, a good story.

I like this church. They sing everything that is singable. The atmosphere isn’t pretentious, everything is efficient. But I’m not sure if I’ll go as often as I should. She has choir practice afterwards and that meant hanging around for 1.5 hours when I’d much rather be at home and online. I’m pretty sure my temper will get bad if I have to hang around every week.

We had a nice lunch then went clothes shopping. Honest honest, this must rate as one of my least favorite activities. My shopping M.O. is know exactly what I want, target the shop(s), zoom in and get out as soon as possible. I couldn’t manage spending 50 minutes in every shop, trying clothes over and over again, and asking the sales people all sorts of questions. I can barely talk to the sales assistants, let alone ask them anything.

Fruitful shopping trip though, she bought a really fantastic blue striped sweater and a few other tops. All were on sale, that was good. I didn’t have any energy to find anything for myself.

When we finally reached the foot massage place I was so tired, I almost fell asleep straightaway. I was asleep for most of the 1.5 hours though. After the foot massage we tried the ear candle massage. It’s our second time and it was pretty comfortable afterwards. When the therapist held the burning candle in my ear, I heard gentle crackles and pops, she was giving me a face and neck massage at the same time. Yeah, I fell asleep again.

Dinner was Indian food. I’m still tired.

nice day

We met for lunch, then walked aimlessly around in the middle of the crowds. I’m less anxious today and have less of a desire to magic all the people on the street into an alternate dimension, some of them I still consider space wasters.

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sneakers, after the pair I’d been wearing since 1999 developed a hole in the right sole. I lurve that old pair, but it’s time to get a new pair. Been looking and looking. Don’t want one that’s too sporty, don’t want white or black or weird colours. Been seriously considering an Adidas Gazelle but I’ve never been an Adidas fan. Imagine how happy I was to find a pair I like today. And she bought it for me. SWOON!

nike sneakers

We got a bit hot walking around, so we went for foot massage again. At our old place. The therapist says my feet and legs were very stiff, she’s great, though she’s the most painful.

Dinner at a Korean bbq restaurant, it’s one of those ones that has been at its location forever. It was past 9pm and it was crowded. People kept coming in after us too. We had a set dinner for two: assorted small dishes, chicken, pork, beef, fish, squid, rice, soup, orange and a stick of chewing gum. I was dehydrated so I had a diet coke. We shared a small bottle of Korean wine. Good meal, excellent food.

Problem with korean bbq is, the minute I got home I headed straight for the shower. Everything about me smelled of the food — hair, skin, nails, teeth. All the clothes I was wearing today are right now in the washing machine as well as some of hers. She normally washes her hair in the morning but tonight, she washed herself from top to toe too.

All in all, a nice lovely day.

pain and pleasure

My back hurts. It’s the not sleeping properly, the no exercise, the sitting in front of the computers all day, the elbow hurting cos of keyboard and mouse usage.

It’s not the most pain I’ve had, but since it wasn’t so busy, I went for 2 hours of massage today. Not the gentle push type of massge, this is where they press very hard at joints and points. Still hurting but much better now.

r&r

Went to St Gregory’ spa with AL and RO yesterday — my ex-colleagues from my previous company. Funny that none of us are doing the same job we were when we knew each other, 2 of us have left the company altogether. But we miss the family atmosphere, I’ve been where I am for 2.5 years now and if I think back at the days when I’ve done 2.5 yrs at the previous place, there’s a big difference. I don’t feel loyalty, don’t feel like I belong, no teamwork. We’ve been well and truly spoiled.

Anyway I did a body scrub and hair therapy massage at the spa. The scrub was nothing out of the ordinary, just some scrubbing with gritty bits that are supposed to exfoiliate, then wrapped in plastic and a simple head massage. The hair therapy was fun. Wet hair, then lots and lots of cream massaged into the scalp, with a finger massage. Then as it gets absorbed, a neck, shoulder and hand massage. Then a bit of steaming before more massaging and washing off. My hair was definitely softer afterwards. I was told not to wash it till Monday but I thought to myself there’s no way I can stand not washing my hair for 2 days.

The spa is part of the complex at the Plaza Hotel, there’s also a pool, a gym and a climbing wall I was eyeing, but never had the nerve to try. I was the first to finish, so I got a carrot juice while I waited. Afterwards we took a taxi to Suntec and had prata and gravy at the famous place there. I was already full.

Hung out at my room to play ligretto, wow, it’s been a long long time since I played. Next time I’m back in Switzerland I’ll have to remember to buy a box.

They left around 6pm, I was far too full from the prata to eat, so I took an early shower and turned on the Powerbook. But ezboard was down and I was soon getting tired. Nothing on TV either.

Decided to take a nap around 8.30pm. Next thing I know when I opened my eyes it was nearly 10pm and I was a bit cold. Turned the aircon down and went back to sleep. Woke up this morning at 8.15am, having slept for nearly 12 hours.

I needed that.

Came back from a big breakfast — birchermuseli, fruit, sausages, chee cheong fun, fried bee hoon, kaya toast. Hence the unusual phenomenon of posting at 10.30 in the morning.

No plans today, meeting C&R for early dinner, may be.

attending to ourselves

By the time we woke up — or more accurately, got out of bed, it was late, real late, cos when we got out to town to eat, it was 2.20 and we had 10 mins to go until the afternoon tea special.

Then she went for a facial with her mentor while I had my hair cut. We’d arranged to meet 6pm at the crab shop. I finished at nearly 5 and originally just planned to hang out at HMV. But my neck was hurting so I did an hour at the massage place.

I got to the shop around 6.20 (SMS’ed to tell her my plans) and after a few phone calls, found out they were still on the other side of town. Sigh. Another hanging around waiting time, how are they part of my life.

Finally they arrived and we bought the crabs. The hairy crabs that are in season. Went to her brother’s place to steam them, we had 2 1/2 each. Very nice, but very high in cholesterol, so have to be careful. Had them with warmed wine, first time I tried, unusual but also real nice.

Just a bit of luxuriating.