Naked in Onyang Hot Springs
Since coming to Korea, I have heard alot about Jjimjilbangs. While getting ready for this trip, I learned there is also a prevalent hot springs culture. Korea has over 400 hot springs. For this trip we picked Asan, which was 40 minutes away from Pyeongtaek by train. There are three primary recommended places in Asan where you can experience Korea’s hot springs culture; Asan Sparvis, and Onyang Hot Springs, Paradise Spa Dogo. The Visit Korea website indicates there are many more places in the area to chose from.
I’m told the oldest one is at Onyang Hot Spring Hotel. A place that dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (the reign of Wei, Shu and Wu) and known for its healing waters. So of course, we had to experience it. If you want to learn more about Onyang Hotel operating as a temporary palace, check out the museum.
As I had never attended a public bath in my adult life, I had to really work myself up for this trip. I came across random blurbs that suggested the place we were going to visit had certain amounts of natural radium. I was really worried about what that meant! After checking to see how many people may have died from natural hot springs, I rested my fears and decided I would be okay.
So. There I was. Facing my locker.
I devised a plan to remove my clothes and hide behind my towel as quickly as I could. Except I soon discovered it wasn’t much of a cover. Not to mention it drew more attention then I intended. So throwing the towel to the side, I embraced the moment for what it was, washed up in the showers, and then proceeded to the pools. There might be some sort of order to the whole thing, but the order I found was; Kinda Really Hot, Luke Warm, Kinda Really Hot, Freezing Cold, and back to Kinda Really Hot. There was also Extreme Hot but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What the hey. I probably did it all wrong, but it still was an enjoyable experience. I found Sonja’s description was pretty much on point. Older hot springs with basic facilities, but Oh! How the water was amazing! Note to self: Next time bring scrub mittens, back scrubber, personal soaps for the before/after shower. Also, figure out what the extra herbal stuff is about.
Once we left the Onyang Hot Springs Hotel, we wandered into the market area. If you haven’t been to a Korean market yet, this is worth stopping by. There was the traditional fare on the market’s main street and on the next street more modern offerings. I like the way the old and the new harmonizes here. Things change but some things stay the same.
Near the train station, we came across this statue commemorating this General during the Japanese occupation.
Next to the memorial is this neat public foot bath with a schedule of the different times it is available. It looked like there were cool and warm pools here as well. If you can’t commit to a full hot springs experience, this would do nicely!
Crossing under the train tracks we found a great dumpling place! So far the dumplings here are my favorite. I especially love their Kimchi dumplings!