Korea Travel Series Part 7: Day 4 – Abalone Porridge, Dragon Hill Spa Jjimjilbang [Nudity Alert!], Hanilkwan (Traditional Korean Food)

Continuation of Mummy Audrey’s trip to Seoul, Korea with 3 kids and Ahjussi from 1st to 15th Sep 2016.

Links to the entire series HERE.

Day 4 – 4th September 2016 
No plans day

Our supplier actually requested for us to allocate 1 day for him and his wife to bring us around. However, they had something on in the end and ended up only meeting us for dinner in the evening. So we were suddenly left ‘planless’.

First Stop: Breakfast!

The boys asked for porridge breakfast and so we headed over to our usual porridge place just across the road!

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Myeongdong Station Exit #9 (it is actually right smack between #9 & #10). You will see Hotel Skypark III. To the right of it is a small entrance as seen above. Head downstairs to the basement.

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Address in English (as per their name card): Toegye-ro 2-ga (Beside Sejong Hotel)

 


And so, Ahjussi was worried that it was difficult to find the place, so he made a video for you all.

So… What’s the fuss about this place that gets us back every visit? The lovely porridge! And more importantly, we love their side dishes! Their raw squid is the best we’ve tried! They do allow tabao of their raw squid at 25,000 won per tub. We have brought it back to SG twice and we are so in love with it. We forgot to pack our Fridge-to-Go this round so no tabao this time.

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Mine is Special Abalone Porridge. Was around 17,000 won? Forgot to take note. Sorry! They have a normal Abalone Porridge version with less abalone and the porridge is white instead of greenish like mine.

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Baby Oppa also had Special Abalone Porridge and he loved it. He finished the entire portion by himself!

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Big Boy ordered Chicken Porridge and slurped up everything too! meimei had 2 small bowls of Special Abalone Porridge (1 from me and 1 from Ahjussi). Surprisingly, she can chew abalone when we cut it into smaller pieces for her. And look at how we cleaned out our side dishes. Super yums!

After breakfast, we walked around the area while thinking of how to spend our day before our dinner appointment and we decided on….

Try Out Something NEW To Us: Jjimjilbang (Korea’s Sauna) @ Dragon Hill Spa (Yongsan)

Saunas are really common and there are plenty all over Korea. However, being our first time, we decided to try out one that has been reviewed to be kids friendly (just in case we get chased out because our kids are rowdy).

We’ve never been to Japan before, much less an onsen, so we have zero idea of how it will be like. Many friends told us that it is similar to Japan’s onsens, but we were totally clueless (swakoo lah).

Anyway, after consulting Google, we decided on Dragon Hill Spa @ Yongsan. Going back on the train the same route as Noryangin, just that you alight at Yongsan Station. Yongsan Station is like a massive interchange and the place can get really confusing. Lookout for signs to “Station Plaza” and head towards there. You will exit the building and see a large flight of stairs downwards. There are escalators at the sides.

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Keep a look out for “Station Plaza” on signages like this one.

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If you turn around, you will see this.

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While facing the stairs, turn LEFT and walk for a while past H&M. Cross the road and you will see a building with a Chinese restaurant and a carpark entrance. Walk carefully to the left of the carpark entrance.

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You will see this beautiful walkway. This is the entrance to Dragon Hill Spa!

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The place is huge with a lot of different facilities. Sorry the photo isn’t clear. Taken by YOU-KNOW-WHO. Seriously, don’t trust men to take photos unless your husband is a professional photographer!

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Is this better? Taken by me in the lift on our 2nd visit. There are quite a few restaurants within the jjimjilbang, so don’t worry about food options if you intend to laze the entire day away!

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Once inside, head to the counter to pay for your entrance. You will receive an electronic tag. This tag is your shoe locker key & also your shower locker key. The tag has a number on it, this number is the locker number too. It is also your ‘credit card’ in the jjimjilbang. All services and purchases will be tagged to your tag. You will settle the bill for any services or purchases later when you check out of the jjimjilbang.

At the counter, they will also hand you clothing to be used within the jjimjilbang and a towel.

Tap your tag on the entrance gate, then remove your shoes. Place them in the locker provided, then head on in!

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The shoe lockers. Photo from our 2nd visit.

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They have clearly labelled the men & women only areas. BE CAREFUL NOT TO GO TO THE WRONG AREAS. Because it will be a full naked parade in there.

For ladies, take the lift up. There’s only 1 other level you can choose. Brace yourself. Once the doors open, you will see naked bodies EVERYWHERE. No one is shy. No one is covered. No one cares. There are big bodies. There are small bodies. There are big boobies. There are small boobies. But seriously, no one cares.

They will be walking around, blowing their hair, cleaning their nostrils and ears, etc. Don’t stare. Don’t feel paiseh. What they have, you also have.

I’ll be very honest. I was VERY AMUSED seeing all the naked ladies of all ages parading around. They strip at their lockers without batting an eyelid.

And really sorry, of course, this area is off bounds to mobile phones and cameras. ~DUH~ So no photos of this area for you to see. Use your imagination lah!

To entertain you a little before the whole post becomes super wordy…

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Here is a rough layout based on my memory.

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This is how the lockers look like. Quite spacious. I took this secretly on our 2nd visit because Ahjussi took Meimei and we came back on a weekday, so it was super quiet and I was the only one around!

 

Step 1: Head to your locker.
Step 2: STRIP NAKED. Totally naked. No panties, no bra. And don’t worry about pubic hair. We all have them too. Nothing special.
Step 3: Keep all your belongings properly. Bring along the towel provided. Don’t bother covering yourself. The more you cover, the more they stare!
Step 4: Head to the shop. See if you would like to purchase anything for your shower. They have many things like scrub sponges, scrub nets, soap bars, packet soap (for one time use), packet shampoo, packet conditioner, face masks, shaver, panties, bra, clothing, etc. Over here, only the basic soap bar is available at every shower station. You are allowed to bring your own. It is common to see the Koreans carry a basket of their personal toiletries. (Those empty handed ones are most likely tourist like myself.)
Step 5: Head to the shower area. There are standing showers and there are sit down showers with stools provided. Shower yourself thoroughly and scrub yourself clean.
Step 6: If you would like a good scrub down by the Ahjumma, go to the scrubbing centre. How to identify it? You will see tables and an old lady sitting there (or busy scrubbing someone else). The old lady is usually in bra & panties. Remember NOT TO DO MASSAGE before you head to the bath else you will contaminate the bath! If you want a massage, get it done AFTER you have enjoyed your soak in the bath.
Step 7: There are various baths and over here, everything is in English & Chinese. So no worries about not knowing what is what and enjoy yourself. The recommended duration is also stated on the signs. There is 1 pool which is suitable for children under 7 years old. I didn’t bring Meimei in to soak though. I simply scrubbed her down and we quickly went to put on clothes.
Basic Rules of the Bath: DO NOT bring your towel into the bath. DO NOT wring your towel in the bath. DO NOT step into the bath without showering yourself clean! DO NOT splash in the bath.
There are also sauna rooms you can go into at the bath area. Be mentally prepared. All I wanted was a quick peek and I almost shocked myself to death. There were many Ahjummas sitting naked inside with their legs wide open, one feet on the chair. Eh… Too descriptive. Sorry! But Meimei saw and she had a good giggle. I guess it was really amusing to her too!
Step 8: Wipe yourself dry, go back to the locker area and blow your hair dry. Feel free to use the brushes & combs. Because they kept them in UV sterilisers to be sterilised! And do put them back in after use. There’re cotton buds for you to clean your ears too! I saw cotton pads too. Ladies who were done with their whole session were also putting on make up there, getting ready to leave.
Step 9: Put on your panties (remember to bring clean ones OK), put on your bra if you want (most of them don’t from what I observed), and put on the clothes they gave you. They didn’t have anything small enough for Meimei, so she wore he own clothes again.

Now, you are ready to head back to the common area. Take the same lift back down.
If you are really really really super super super shy and want to skip being seen naked by anyone… You can simply head to the toilet and change into the set of clothing given to you, then head straight to the common areas. But this will mean you can’t enjoy the bath at all.

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Or if you are really despo for some time away from the kids, dump them to the hubby and stay here for a nap. This is the woman’s nap room. At the far end (small door) is the entrance to the woman’s sauna. On the far left, there’s another one too (rectangle wooden door).

Oh ya! They have this super cool vagina healing thing. I’ve seen it in Batam before. It is a stool with an opening in the centre, you sit on sit with your vagina exposed and they will use herbs and stuff to simmer and the steam apparently is good for cleansing your vagina and keep it healthy (and tight, according to what I understand from the Ahjumma). No harm trying if time & budget allows!

If you are bringing your baby along, do pack a small backpack with diapers, wet wipes, milk, milk bottles and snacks for your baby. They allow it, we asked. 

I didn’t get to do the scrub on this first visit. We went back again another day and I managed to get a massage while Ahjussi took Meimei to the men’s area. Kids under 4 year old can follow their parent of opposite gender.

My thoughts on my first experience strutting around butt naked? I was quite shy and very thankful Meimei was with me as I used her to shield myself. I chose a secluded spot in the showers to avoid awkwardness. It was quite sad to see all the nice perky boobies because mine are almost non-existent after breastfeeding Meimei (they will bounce back, after another year, at least they did for the boys). But at the same time, I got to see the older ladies and thought about how my body will slowly transform into theirs, everything is loose and saggy. I must start warning Ahjussi about it and hope he doesn’t get disappointed with my flabs in future.

I know my mum really wanted to try the jjimjilbang and after this experience, I am pretty sure this is what my mum will like. Mummy, we will definitely bring you to Korea again to try k! Or maybe you can go over and give it a try on your own when you head up NEXT WEEK. LOL! 

And time for funny story about that cheeky Meimei… While I was at the locker putting on my clothes after dressing her, I had to let her roam around a little otherwise I really couldn’t put on my clothes at all. Guess what this cheeky baby did! She ran around the locker area, peering behind opened doors at other ladies who were naked! She smiled, grinned, giggled and thankfully she was cute, so the ladies were friendly and played with her.
Then my worst nightmare happened. SHE WENT TO PULL A LADY’S PUBIC HAIR. SERIOUS!!!! Index finger & thumb, full slow motion, reach over, pull, giggle, shriek, run back to me. I was in shock and kept apologising to the lady. Thankfully the young lady found it amusing and laughed it off and even recounted the whole thing to her friend who just came back from the shower. Serious OMG Meimei! And definitely, this will be a memory I can never forget. I am so going to tell her about this again when she grows her own pubic hair 12 years down the road!

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Back to the common area, there’s a mini arcade with decent and new games for the kids. Games are payable.

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Loads of games!

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There’s a small slide to entertain the kids.

There are noraebang (KTV) cubicles for your to sing and dance. These are payable.

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The entire common area. Really huge with TV, snack counter (payable), massage chairs (payable), sauna rooms, salt rooms, etc.

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Shikhye (fermented sweet rice & barley drink) for me. Chocolate ice cream for the boys!

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There’s a huge variety of drinks! And don’t worry! English translation on the signage so you know what you are buying!

 

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They have 3 types of eggs available.

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The boys posing with the eggs! And yes, the common area is for people to simply sit or lay around. No one bothers you!

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The eggs!

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This is how it looks like on the inside. The yolks are all dry (not to my liking), but I love the whites!


Meimei got bored and started to play with the egg shells.

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Of course, the trick to being able to have some fun is to knock her out first!

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One of the kilns saunas.

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The boys loved the ice room!

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Nice photo area too!

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Inside one of the pyramids rooms. Nice and quiet. Slightly warm.

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My view when I’m resting in the pyramid room.

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Instructions clearly stated, put on socks to avoid contaminating the salt.

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The salt room! It was very nice to sleep in there!

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Taken during our 2nd visit there. Slap on a mask and nap!

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My turn to slap on a mask! Meimei wanted it too! She kept coming to attack me and pinch my face to try to lift the mask off!

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The young master enjoying TV programs while sipping on mango juice!

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How to resist this cutie when she acts cute? Taken during our 2nd visit when it was a lot less crowded and the snack shop Ahjumma had time to help us fold this!

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Baby Oppa’s turn! And yes, that’s a nail salon behind. You can get your nails done here!

At the end of your jjimjilbang stay, remember to return the pillows to the cupboard and tidy up the area you used.

Head back to the lockers and change into your own clothes. If you prefer, you can shower again before you leave. 🙂 We did because the boys ran around and we had to run after them, so taking another shower before we went to meet our supplier for dinner was definitely needed. At the exit, return the tags given to you and you can pay for your purchases and any services you used.

 

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Managed to dig out the exit receipt. This is what we spent (shikhye x 2, eggs x 2 plates, 2 ice cream, a snack, a few games) in the jjimjilbang.

 

Conclusion about our jjimjilbang experience: The children really enjoyed roaming around the big common area. Just take note that they don’t go and disturb other people. Meimei had a wonderful time playing with others (the Koreans are generally very loving towards kids).

There’s an outdoor swimming pool which is open during summer but you must be in proper swimwear. We didn’t expect that there will be a pool and didn’t prep any swimwear so we skipped that.

Oh oh oh! Someone asked me this before… Can we go to the jjimjilbang when we are having our period? Yes, you can. Just skip the shower & bath. I saw soiled pads in the dustbins in the locker area, so there are people who come during their period.

So that’s the end of our first jjimjilbang experience. We loved it so much this was our last during this trip. We went back again to Dragon Inn Spa another day and also tried out another jjimjilbang in Gangnam area.

Just to add: Remember in my earlier post I mentioned have emergency places to stay if you are intending to use AirBnB and the host may cancel on you at the last minute? This is one of our ’emergency places’. There are backpackers who do stay here overnight. They can help you keep your luggage (we saw them helping other tourists with their luggage). 

Dinner with Supplier: 한일관 Hanilkwan 韓一館

We’ve known this supplier, Mr Choi, for years and we’ve been meeting up almost every visit with his wife. They are a lovely couple who adore our children so it was really nice having dinner with them. They ordered food based on our boys’ preference and ensured that all had plenty to eat. Mrs Choi even helped us with Meimei while we talked work with Mr Choi.

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Ahjussi saved himself. He found this photo he took!

Sorry, no photos of the meal as we were really busy trying to get the kid fed and busy looking at new samples and talking work.

 

But the food was too good to forget, thus we remembered to take a name card!

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This is traditional Seoul food with special dishes only royalty could have. Their website is available in English, so do check them out. They have many outlets and you can find an outlet suitable for your itinerary. We went to the one near Gwanghwamun.

 

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Ahjussi managed to take photos of the starters and side dishes! The rest of the elaborate meal was forgotten though.

 

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Very yummy octopus noodles and green bean noodles!

 

 

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Strangely their English website only lists one outlet but this screenshot of their Korean site shows quite a few outlets. There’s Apgujeong, Euljiro, Seoul Station, Yeongdongpo, Gwanghwamun and Hanam. You can ask Google for the address in English. 🙂

It was a pretty relaxing day considering we didn’t have to sweat out in the hot sun running after the kids. All of us managed to catch a nap too. A great place to hang out in the middle of your trip to recharge!

Next up: Day 5 – Fabric Shopping @ Dongdaemun, Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari, Ihwa Mural Village, Hakrim Cafe (You Who Came from the Stars), Original Chicago Pizza & Pub

Keep a lookout!

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Mummy Audrey
Mummy to Big Boy, Baby Oppa & Meimei

Note: Mummy Audrey runs her own online store, www.TLO.com.sg, while looking after her 3 kids ages 9yo, 5yo, and 1yo. Her business focuses on Korean baby products, thus she travels to Korea frequently to source for new and unique products to bring into Singapore. 

Mummy Audrey and her children are available for product/service reviews as long as the products/services are not conflicting with her own products. Do contact her directly at audrey@TLO.com.sg if you are interested for her to review your product. 

 

 

 

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