A few days ago, I found a gem of a place right in front of my apartment. My friend and I literally stumbled onto it. We were trying to find our way in the dark, to get out to a quieter area of the rock wall. We headed to one passageway, and discovered nearly too late that it was the men’s bathing area. A woman directed us instead to the passageway marked “여탕”. We thought she was showing us a way to get out to the further sections, so were surprised when we walked into an outdoor bathing area for women.
Old women, little girls, women of all ages use this bathing area to wash themselves, each other and clothes. The place is so ingeniously designed. Rock and concrete form courses for the spring water to flow through, as it gradually mixes with the sea beyond the wall. Flat paths and a couple more levels form an array of places to stand, wash, set things and sit.
The water is cold! At low tide, about five inches of water is all you have to wash your body and your hair. To wash your hair, women take an interesting stance. Lean forward, dip your hair and head in (for an instant head freeze!) Do it, then the view is looking back thru your legs to the far wall and the water heading out to the sea.
A streetlight above provides light until late at night. The first night, we sang the song we were learning, Moon River (in English) while women around us bathed. It’s such a cool option to be able to bathe outdoors.
Today, on the way home from swimming, I stopped in and bathed. An elderly woman was bathing, and a young woman was washing a few clothes and helping her 5-year old daughter bathe and wash her hair.