I Love My New Scrubby
Monday, the final day of my friend Julie's visit, we spent a few hours at a Korean day spa in Japantown. We originally intended to do the $20 day pass and just enjoy the bath and sauna, but once there, the front desk attendant persuaded us to do the scrub + massage package for $90. Frankly, I'm broke and have absolutely no business spending $90 on such things; indeed, I'm usually downright frugal. This time, however, the voluptuary in me prevailed. And I'm glad it did.
If you've never been to a Japanese or Korean-style public bath, I suggest you get out there and try one. Preferably on a cold day when you just can't seem to get warm. In my admittedly limited experience, the Korean places tend to have more services, but the Japanese are more posh. Both begin with bathing and soaking in a warm, tiled room.
After half an hour using the bath/ sauna/ steam room, we were called upstairs (by a woman shouting our numbers "Three! Forty-three!" with a barely-comprehensible accent) to another tiled room, much like a mezzanine, that overlooked the bathing area. There we were greeted by two large Asian women in matching rust-colored bras and panties. I disrobed and climbed face down onto the freshly-cleaned, plastic-coated massage table as instructed. It was still warm from the cleanse. Then I was scrubbed down with soap and a rough cloth for approximately 30 minutes. Thirty minutes! That may sound excessive, but in fact it was quite pleasant, a lot like being massaged with sand paper. I was periodically doused with buckets of hot water to remove the exfoliated skin. The next forty minutes or so were dedicated to an oil massage. Neither was this your typical spa massage; my Chinese amazon (our masseuses chatted in Manderine) roughed me up properly. Next came the facial. Product was applied and removed. I heard a strange kitchen-y sound, then felt cool, freshly grated cucumber placed on my face. She washed and conditioned my hair, removed the cucumber, rinsed me down, and sent me on my way with an envelope stamped "JENEY".
Several days later, my skin still feels wonderfully soft.