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"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

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  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
  • The Daily Kimchi
  • Surviving South Korea
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  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • Not your typical bath-house

    greetings to all - for some reason, i cannot check my actual blog - i haven't been able to for some time. i hope that some of you have been posting comments in the comments section, and i apologize if you were hoping for a response - if only i could check, then i would. if you want to send a comment to me via e-mail, you're more than welcome to. my e-mail address is bwildschut@gmail.com. well, onto the info.
    one of the really fascinating things with Korea that has really got my attention recently has been the whole Korean method with staying clean. i do not know if this style of cleaning is typical for only Korea, or if its for most of southeast asia, but either way, its really quite fascinating when compared to a typical north american style of clean.
    just the other week, i joined a gym right in my neighbourhood, and its incredibly cheap. 50,000Won for the month, three days a week. thats roughly 65 Cad, depending on the exchange rate, etc. either way, its pretty cheap, i think. the equipment isn't the greatest, but for those of you who remember what I looked like before i left, in terms of working out, and also in my opinion, i didn't have anywhere to go but up. so i finish my workout, and head for what i assumed would be the showers. much to my surprise, the mens showering area was nearly half the size of the whole gym where i work out; its not only spacious, but incredibly warm and, believe it or not, inviting.
    the whole system works like this. whether you just came from working out, or, in the case of old men, you come in, strip off completely (and the womens side i'm told, works the same way) and then you walk into the shower area. the whole room is somewhat divided into segments (or at least its this way in my gym). you have two sauna's, one wet, and one dry. you have three water pools, one cool, with a heavy overhead shower nozzle spraying down, a really hot hot-tub style pool, and then a cooling down, but still quite warm pool. and then you have your traditional shower heads, attached to a wall, typical gym style.
    when you walk in, the first thing you do is to rinse down with the cold water, to clean off all of the dirt thats on your body. then you head for the wet sauna. the temp inside is roughly 56-59 degrees, and the water that sprays inside is a really fine mist. you sit in there for the hour-glass time, and then walk out. if you're going to do it right, you head for the cooling pool, rinse off the sweat, and cool down after sweating like a fiend. after hopping out of the cooling pool, you immediately head for the incredibly hot air sauna, where the temp is a raging 90-95degrees, within a tightly confined room. (needless to say, when my roomate and i entered both sauna rooms, the place quickly cleared out; and they hadn't been in there that long... we're foreigners, what can i say?) so you sit in the really hot sauna for your maximum ammount desired time, and then jump out, to be hit by the frigid shower room air. you resist the urge to head back in, hit the cooling pool again, to rinse off the sweat (again) and then head for your desired temp in the really hot sauna water, or the medium temp sauna. and oh, by the way, you do all of this totally naked. the only thing you take in any of the places is a small towel. so you sit in the pool totally naked, or, if desired, sitting on your towel. when you are done, you head for the showers, making sure to take a scouring towel with you. when you get to your shower, you grab your communal bar of soap, and then scrub your personal scouring towel with soap, get it all foamy (and then you put back the bar of soap - it never touches your body - i know some of you are probably cringing while reading that last part...) with your scouring towel, you scrub your entire body. and these suckers hurt bad - but the scouring takes out all of the dirt that's been trapped in the body. and then when you're done, you step out, grab another towel, and you're all set.
    the whole series brings out all of the dirt that's trapped in your body pores. ever wonder why asians in general have really good complexion? spend a few hours in one of these sauna's and you'll know why - half way through, you're sweating so bad, you think that theres nothing left in your body. and by rinsing off multiple times, you keep cleaning the dirt off.
    ever wonder why asians foreigners visiting, or living can stink so bad sometimes? sure, its a well known fact that they seldom shower every day; its because they only go every other day to one of these. families will buy a family membership, throw their kids in the pool, and then when they're all done, each goes to his own sauna and cleans up, together. some of you might be too self-conscious about certain social stigma's that are attached to weight etc. but in korea, people who are overweight are so few and far inbetween that you can count them on one hand. they don't have a secret, they just don't have the junk food over here like we have at home. and i won't lie; it sucks not being able to just grab a jumbo bag of doritoes on the weekend while watching a movie; but it definately helps out the size of the population.
    its an amazing concept - if you ever get the chance to come to anywhere in asia, you'll have to experience the whole bathing experience; its really quite wonderful, and many people pay for a full membership just for the priveledge to use the saunas, they're that nice. and everything is completely tiled, and heated through the floor, so the room is in immaculate shape. its quite nice. its too bad i can't show you through pictures, for obvious reasons. its just one of those things you'll have to experience on your own.
    take care all, and God Bless

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