Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bon Voyage V~ Busan, South Korea

Our last stop on our lovely National holiday, therefore my last post in this series, is Busan (formerly known as Pusan) South Korea. It is not one of those places that you hear about a lot so we were very surprised to see how large this city was. The picture below is only a small section with similar landscape spreading far up and down the coast. It looked quaint with the city sprawling up the hills.
One section of Busan from our ship
 We were a bit "toured" out, I am not much of a sight seer, so hubby did some research and learned that Busan is known for their natural hot springs. He had experience with Sentos in Japan, but I had no idea what to expect! He assured me it was a family atmosphere AND that we would be NAKED! 

After a 20 minute taxi ride through the city we found the Hurshimchung Hot Spring Park, located inside the Hotel Nongshim.  It boasts to be the "best spa in the world".

The kids were not traumatized at all about being naked.
 After checking in at the front desk E and I separated from the boys. We put our shoes in one locker and our clothes and bag in another. That is when the naked-nude-birthday suit adventure began. As an American, I realized that our culture is just not that comfortable with our bodies and being naked. I did not like it at all. At first E, who is now thirteen, felt awkward but she got over it after a few minutes. We walked up to the women's section of the hot spring park. First we were given a loofah towel and motioned to go shower. There were stand up showers and sit down showers and it was full, although we were the only foreigners. After showering we headed to the pools. I had never been to a hot spring before so I expected it to be in the ground (pretty naive I suppose). They are really just pools with hot spring water pumped into them. There were extremely hot pools all the way to extremely cold pools, and everything in between. There was a salt pool, a medicine pool, pools inside rock caverns, whirlpools and outside pools. There was also a waterfall section and many saunas you could go into. E and I wandered around and two little girls thought it would be fun to hang out with us. At first they were cute speaking the little English they knew and then they decided it would be even more fun to splash us with water and sing "sorry" to us with a grin. After about the fifteenth time we decided it was time to move on.

There was about 10% of me that thought it was freeing being naked with a bunch of other naked woman from a different country. You know, the whole "I'll never see these people again so what the heck" attitude. But the other 90% of me just wanted to get dressed ! So I convinced E to find out what else was around. We headed back to the locker room and checked out some cotton "pajamas" and went downstairs. Now I felt comfortable. Downstairs is co-ed (except for the sleeping rooms). Also, there is an igloo room, a mud room and another sauna. Many people were just hanging out on the heated bamboo floor. My favorite place was the sleeping room. The floor was heated below Japanese tatami mats and the pillows were buckwheat filled. There was soft music and a reddish dim light, the atmosphere was dreamy. I stayed there for quite sometime while E decided to go back to the hot springs. Later we met up with the boys and had massages in those high-tech massage chairs. Massages are offered both upstairs and downstairs for a small fee.

We stayed at the spa for over three hours, an all day pass was $10 USD per person. It was a good deal and I would go back to one that allowed swimsuits. Surprisingly I was the only one out of the four of us who felt awkward about being naked. What an example my kids are to me.
Outdoor foot hot springs. I would've been fine with this!
 Getting back to the port area was not as easy as getting away from it. We walked a couple of blocks to find the subway but the streets are confusing in Busan and we felt like we were just going in circles so we decided to hail a taxi. The taxi driver drove around for about ten minutes and we knew he had absolutely no clue what we were trying to tell him, depsite us pointing to the cruise port on a map. So we got out and got another taxi. This guy had no clue either but called his English speaking dispatch to help out. After about 3o minutes we made it back to the port with 45 minutes to spare. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the top of  a luxurious shopping mall. The food was good but we scarfed it down in fifteen minutes, afraid we would be late. We made it onto to the ship just in the nick of time!
a typical street in Busan
Our trip quickly drew to a close. It was the perfect vacation as we were able to relax, bond as a family, and see and learn about new places. Now it is back to Beijing for about eleven weeks until we go back to the US for Christmas!!

1 comment:

steph mackin said...

How brave you are! I am uncomfortable just "thinking" about being naked there :) Looks like a really fun trip and how great to see all of these new places! Can't wait for Chistmas! Miss you guys...