I love the Korean Bath House. I first went there many years ago with my mother and have been going back, alone ever since. I go before a competition to have a body scrub. This is no regular scrub like you get in a spa, this is a down and dirty, scrub every inch of your body 30 minute torture.
Here I arrive at Lawrence Health Center in Santa Clara, it's a nondescript building located in a run down strip mall. It may not look fancy, but it has been featured in Sunset magazine as a "find".
I have no idea what any of the signs say! And how did I find this place? I read about it on the Internet. I love doing exciting, unfamiliar things so off I went one day! You go to the counter and pay your fee and off into the spa.
A body scrub (exfoliation) is $30.00 and lasts for 30 minutes, a massage (body care) is $50.00 for 50 minutes. I get the two in a package, a scrub followed by a massage and hair washing.
I also schedule an appointment ahead of time and request Sue, a woman with the most powerful vice like grip I have ever, ever met. If she is married, her husband is either a very happy man or a very sore man.
The receptionist gives me three very small towels, a robe and a toothbrush. Shoes are left outside the door, this place is all about getting clean. Squeaky clean.
Women only through this door, men through another.
Pink locker room and changing area with toiletries for afterward. I think that is an autoclave there on the right. A woman comes out and grabs my ticket to see what my services are and gives the ticket to Sue. They know #35 (my locker key) has "full body care" and is here. I have some time in the spa first though.
I weigh myself- they have a scale in pounds and one in kilos! I want to make sure I weigh the same going in and leaving, I don't want to lose water weight now.
All the clothes are left in the locker, I have my robe on and a couple towels, with $20.00 in my pocket for Sue.
First I stand and walk on the acupressure mat in the hallway. I sure have a lot of fun doing weird things on my own.
I make up my own stories about what these signs say. I will let you make up yours!
Toilets are through here, and in another room a huge heated marble slab to lay on after your treatment, hard, warm marble. Soothing music and the soft chatter of women talking as they lounge on the leather couches.
I then go to the warm Jacuzzi and float a bit, the two women follow me and start talking. The young one tells me she is visiting her aunties who live here. She is from Washington where she goes to a Koren spa like this, and she told me her aunties (one of them is the spitter) wanted her to locate one in their area, so she found this and brought them.
They start telling me all about the wonderful baths they have "back home" and I ask where that is. Afghanistan. Oh, that's why I couldn't tell the language. We all talk a while about how wonderful it is to come here, only women, be free and naked and take care of our bodies. It's about time for my scrub so I use the toilet and come back, only to see Sue emerge with a smile.
English is not her first language, so she speaks English the way I speak Spanish. Instead of "Wow, look at how fast that dog is running!" I say "Dog run fast". Sue's English is like that, so you can imagine our conversations.
She shouts "Where you been!? Wait few! Wait few!" and points to the jacuzzi. She wants me back in because she isn't ready for me. I obey. Everyone obeys Sue.
She comes to get me and shouts at me to tie up my hair. The splashing water is loud, so she has to shout to be heard I think.
I will add some links to previous visits at the bottom of this post so you can read about them, each has some different stories about the process.
She wants to know about my competition and why I haven't been in to see her in so long. She tells me just because I don't have a competition, I still need to be clean...don't wait so long to come see me she admonishes.
She dons scrubbing mitts that are rough and scrubs and scrubs and bends over to whisper in my ear (a very loud whisper) that the last woman didn't do a good job then she makes me look at my stomach, which looks like smooth porcelain.
She turns and tweaks my body into all positions and scrubs every inch, only avoiding the nipples as that would hurt. I like it when she gets in between each toe and finger. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere is scrubbed. Everywhere is scrubbed, dark balled up rolls of dead skin cover me and the table. Once in a while she rinses me off with buckets of hot water, it stings as the skin is raw.
She flips me on my stomach and attacks the back, she is bent over the head of the table, wearing the traditional black lace bra and panties, she reaches way down and I laugh to myself as my head is nestled between her large breasts...ha ha only here would this happen.
She shouts "How you like my power!?" I tell her she is strong, and she asks if she should go light. "NO!" I cry, wondering if that was a mistake, she is strong, really, really strong.
She tells me my skin is very bad, she has had to scrub much longer so my massage will be shortened. She stands me up and makes me rinse with the hand held shower head.
Back on the table and she coats my entire body with oil, I am slippery like a seal. She places a hot wet towel under my stomach to keep me from sliding off the vinyl.
Hot towels all over, massage, pounding, smacking and she finishes by washing my hair. She asks what shampoo I use, my hair is silky. She then laughs and asks if I remember the very first time I saw her, my long hair was so tangled she couldn't even wash it. I wonder how she can remember me from that long ago.
I finish and stand, she turns me round and round admiring my sleek and smooth naked body. She is satisfied. A smack on the butt and a laugh. She always does that to me.
I go back to my car, it's a half hour past feeding time and I have to be very careful not to lose muscle, I must eat. My food is sitting in the trunk waiting for me. I will sit in the car with the door open, and eat my tilapia, asparagus and cashews. I cannot sit there with the top down, my skin is all new, I will burn like crazy.
Here is a short video of the interior, a cannot tell you how much I love this place. If you are uncomfortable being naked in front of strangers, this is not the place for you. No clothes are allowed behind the bath doors. (Email readers will need to navigate to the blog to watch this short video).
Links to previous visits
Korean Bath House May 2010
Korean Bath House July 2010
Korean Bath House September 2010
Korean Bath House September 2011