金剛山 Geumgang Hot Springs
Back to my most recent trip, there is one more thing to mention – hot springs. I haven’t been to any hot springs in South Korea, so I can’t compare how the South Korea-like resort area of Geumgang differs in that respect. I’ve heard foreigners get stared at quite a bit in such situations. I can’t really tell, since in a hot spring I am not wearing anything to improve my eye vision.
I can say that it felt reaaaaaaaalllly good to get into the Yellow Mineral Mud sauna after hiking. In places like Taiwan, where the weather outside is fairly warm, getting into the hot spring can make one feel too hot immediately. My body lost enough heat that it took quite awhile to get to that stage. And by that stage, I was already so relaxed that I didn’t mind either way. The mud was apparently quite beneficial – it is supposed counter cancerous cells and neutralise poison.
There were actually three different types of saunas. Besides the Yellow Mineral Mud sauna, there was a Maekban Mineral Rock sauna and a wooden dry sauna. The lamps used to heat the rooms also dried out my skin, so I was not a big fan of the dry sauna room. At some point in the rock sauna, I felt so hot that I moved to get out as quickly as possible, since I felt like I was going to have heat stroke. I certainly sweat quite a bit, and my skin felt more soft and looked much better than usual as a result. But it could have also been the super-clean water and the super-clean air I consumed in Geumgang as well.
Outside, besides a hot spring pool, there was a walkway with jade rocks on the bottom. This water was cold, and the jade was a sickly yellow colour, not green as one would expect. The jade rocks were put there apparently to improve health. Jade is supposed to emit negative ions and emit helpful far infared radiation – when it is heated. Hence, not sure what the purpose of the walkway was especially when it was cold enough outside as it was.
In any case, it was a nice place to relax. I did not bother to go for the Chinese massage – it can be had cheaper even in Japan. Likewise, I did not do "Dr. Fish" – the Korean term for pools with fish that bite you to remove dead skin on your hands and feet. They said one could only put their ankles into the water, no more. If I am going to pay $10US for the privlege, I want to be able to put more of my body into the pool, swimming suit or not.
One other thing – besides the experience of going to the hot spring, it as interesting how the spa was divided into a side for men and a side for women. The second day I went, the two sides switched. This is in a building where the signs for men and women appear to be permanently attached, not simply something somebody decides to write on a chalkboard at the beginning of the day. Couldn’t figure out why anybody would do that.