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Party Naked: Seeing Our Sameness in Our Differences, A Travel Story

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 21 April 2012 | Views [2229] | Comments [22] | Scholarship Entry

A Seoul guidebook reported that Spa Lei catered to lady clients, spoke English and operated 24/7. On arrival, we discovered one major inaccuracy. Unflinching, we called a free translator hotline. Taking turns on the phone with the staff, we negotiated a night at the spa.

Our excitement grew as we walked down a dim corridor and approached a room casting away shadows. A flock of Korean women bathed in the vanities’ full lights. They were as God made them. Oh, it's THAT KIND OF PARTY.

I sized up my companions, unsure if we were ready to see each other like Adam saw Eve.

Even women who feel comfortable in their own skin will be uneasy hanging naked in a crowded room for longer than it takes to change a sports bra.

I glimpsed all nature of boobs, bums and down-there hair care. I wondered how everyone saw me. Then I realized: We were the same in our differences.

Slowly, my legs didn’t cross as tight. My arms fell to my sides, not in front of my lady parts. As I released my self-consciousness, I began to enjoy my Korean spa escapade. Free from my prison of anxiety and self-judgment, I basked in Jacuzzis and pools of salt- and freshwater. Saunas loosened my tired muscles and unblocked my pores.

We chilled on the rooftop deck and in the nap room. We ogled more indulgences: manicures, pedicures, Thai and hot stone massages. After a few hours, we arrived at the scrub room.

While the rest of the spa interior was muted, my pupils dilated here, a space ideal for inspecting every crevice and curve. Our beauticians, about my mom's age, donned black bra and panty "uniforms" and wielded plastic-covered massage beds, loofah mittens, hoses and vats brimming with water.

Suppressing images of Mom in her skivvies, I felt like a baby again, oddly peaceful, this woman bathing me. But she spared me no mercy. Preparing a lamb, she lathered and scoured me, my skin near-raw, globs of dead membrane falling away. I grew accustomed to the pain for promises of a velvety complexion.

Tags: korea, skin, spa, travel writing scholarship 2012




What a great piece! I love that you worked in a deeply personal experience and self discovery with a travel adventure. I want to pack my bags and come along with you!

  Liz Kennedy Apr 22, 2012 3:55 AM


You can always ride with me, Liz!! Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 22, 2012 4:00 AM


What a delightful entry! I'm so used to reading travel magazines & articles that are nothing but facts, almost scientific, and on the 'square' side, if you will... Such articles are informative, but they sometimes fail to really "take you there," in your mind. I LOVE that you humanized your travel experience for me with a whimsical narrative, but still gave me a vision of what to expect at such a Spa!! I've never laughed out loud reading travel material, and yet you somehow still answered some of the questions I've had about such spas... Maybe I'll be brave and venture out to one, now that I know what to expect! :) Thanks for a lovely read. :)

  Auntie Fun Apr 22, 2012 4:38 AM


This piece made me laugh! Also, I'm not as scared now to try a Korean Spa.

  Chris Apr 22, 2012 8:56 AM


Auntie Fun: First, I love your screen name! Second, your comment makes me very happy, because that's exactly what I intend to accomplish with my travel writing. I hope you do check out the Korean spa, it's fun to do, even if just one time!

Chris: I'm glad that it did! Thanks for commenting and I'm glad you're a little less timid about trying it!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 23, 2012 2:57 PM


have a pic of what your glowing skin looked like a few hours after being scoured?

  caramel mousse Apr 23, 2012 10:40 PM


I enjoyed reading this! Great writing - amazing experience.

  Pamela Apr 23, 2012 11:26 PM


Haha! Caramel mousse: As you can imagine, cameras and picture-taking are frowned upon in spas. But I'll upload some photos from the next day! You, too, can glow from the inside out.

Hi Pamela: Thank you very much!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 24, 2012 1:41 AM


your spa escapade encourages me to try spa

  tammy Apr 24, 2012 1:50 AM


Tammy: I'm glad to hear you're open to some new adventure!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 24, 2012 1:33 PM


Funny that you wrote this...just the other day my friends took me to a Korean spa. It was my first time and I didn't expect to know my friends, let alone strangers in such a personal way...needless to say once I got past the fact that everyone was nude I had an okay time. Lesson: step out of your confort zone and be proud of your birthday suit!

  Shantell Apr 25, 2012 3:55 AM


A wonderful message to be learned and re-learned, Shantell!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 25, 2012 7:56 AM


Great story!! Reminds me of my first Korean spa experience...needless to say it wasn't my last ;)

  Christine Chen Apr 27, 2012 2:47 PM


Thanks, Christine!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 28, 2012 7:33 AM


Good girl,enjoyed reading your amazing writing.

  Phoebe Fajardo Apr 28, 2012 7:29 PM


Salamat po, Tita Bing!! Ingat po kayo lagi sa inyong bakasyon!!

  sarahlynnpablo Apr 30, 2012 2:34 PM


"Oh, it's THAT KIND OF PARTY." LOL hilarious. i can totally hear your voice when I read this.

  emgeezy May 5, 2012 9:48 AM


Ha! I'm glad you said that, it was my intention. Happy I could make you happy!

  sarahlynnpablo May 5, 2012 10:25 AM


You are an explorer with a piquant pen. look forward to you winning this trip !! ps: I am a sucker for adventure story which makes people "wonder why" in a pleasant way. this is DT btw.

  redstar May 9, 2012 5:18 AM


redstar, thank you so much for the compliment and for reading. I'm glad you found it enjoyable. From your keyboard to God's ears and the judges' eyes!

  sarahlynnpablo May 9, 2012 9:19 AM


I didn't make the final cut but I wanted to extend my thanks to the judges, my fellow competitors and especially to my friends, family and fellow travelers who read and/or commented my essay: Liz, Auntie Fun, Chris, caramel mousse, Pamela, tammy, Shantell, Christine, Phoebe, emgeezy and redstar.

Full letter here: http://sarahlynnpablo.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/my-entry-is-not-on-the-scholarship-shortlist/

It means so much to me!

  sarahlynnpablo May 17, 2012 3:45 AM


its so great to hear :) very happy for you ;) Travel Agents below changed my life as well :) would you like to know more?? http://www.touramericadirect.co.uk/destination/washington_dc/virginia_holidays

  laura Sep 6, 2012 11:57 PM

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