Yesterday, I went to Korea.
I soaked in soft mineral baths and steamed out a week’s worth of wine before following a tiny Korean woman into a wet room where I was placed on a table and for an hour and a half bathed.
At first she scrubbed my skin with what felt like sandpaper, but there was no pain, just the feeling of my pores crying out in ecstasy.
As the steam from the constant running water enveloped us, she took buckets of hot wet towels and used them to rock me back and forth so that I began to feel like a ship lost in a storm, but firmly and wonderfully attached to the waves. Then she took a hose and water poured out on me like honey, and when I didn’t think it could get any better she put watermelon oil all over me and rubbed my aching muscles until I started to melt into the table and truly move like liquid, all while fighting the urge to eat myself. Wrapping me back up in hot wet towels, she covered my face with ice cold cucumbers while deeply kneading my head and then washed and conditioned my hair, which is an incredibly vulnerable feeling that I cannot wait to feel again. When it was all over she sat me up and rinsed my whole body in warm milk.
The great epics of Homer continually talk of kings and queens being bathed. I cannot seem to turn a page without someone being undressed, cleansed with giving hands, and anointed with oil. Not just a custom, but a gift given to those both at home and weary travelers in need of a place to rest.
Not everyone left this incredible experience in antiquity. Korea, China, Hungary, and more still practice this art daily. Imagine the world if we all had to be that intimate with each other. If we had to completely release into another’s hand.
I miss traveling. It’s so nice to know that there are hidden pockets of foreign cultures right around the corner just waiting to be found.