Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spa on Air

Since I'm chilling in Tokyo-Narita International Airport with nothing to do and 6 hours to do it, let me tell you about the spa at Seoul-Incheon International Airport. Incheon is consistently ranked the best airport in the world, and boy howdy it is true! There's so much to do! 

I wish I had 6 more hours there, instead of 6 hours here at Narita. I'm bored. I'm sure there are fun things to do here...somewhere...probably in the other terminal...that I can't find... 


Early this morning, I flew from Seoul to Tokyo: the first leg of my looooong day of traveling (around 24 hours in all. Yippee). Because my flight was so early, I needed to find somewhere to stay near the airport. I'd read that there was a really nice jimjilbang in the airport, called Spa on Air, which sounded like the perfect plan! Sleeping at a spa would be super relaxing before the epic day of travel, plus it would make my commute at 6 am literally nothing! 

Jimjilbangs are Korean spas and saunas where you can stay the night. I looooove them. They're usually pretty cheap, ranging from 7,000-15,000 for a night, and you get to sit in the hot tubs and steam rooms for ages, then you usually sleep on a floor mat in a common room. Some of them have restaurants, bars, arcades, Dr. Fish foot scrubbers, nail salons, massages, etc. I've stayed in more than a few over the past couple years. Some are better than others, but they've all got the tubs, showers, saunas, and sleeping rooms, lockers for your stuff, and they all provide baggy shorts and a tshirt to sleep in. 

[side note/tangent/related backstory]

I wasn't entirely sure what my plans were for this weekend, so I didn't buy an airport bus ticket early in the week like I should have. I knew there was a chance they'd be sold out by Sunday, but I had tentative plans to meet a friend in Seoul on Sunday depending on when I finished entering grades and packing, so I didn't want to buy a ticket that I wouldn't end up using, just in case. I finished grades late Saturday (HALLELUJAH) and was just mentally worn out, so my Sunday plan turned into sitting at home in my pj's and resting before this whole *24-hours of flights-and-layovers* experience. 

Sure enough, when I went to buy a bus ticket last night, the buses that run directly from Jeonju to the airport were sold out until the morning. Good thing I had contingency plans! I took the bus to Seoul with the hope that I could take the express subway to the airport. 

Unfortunately, I ended up leaving Jeonju later than I meant to, so I decided I wouldn't make it to the airport that night and I'd need to find somewhere else to sleep. The subways usually stop running at 11 and I calculated that my bus would be in Seoul around 11:30-11:45 or so, depending on traffic. I've been on enough impulsive adventures to Seoul that it's pretty easy to make a backup plan. 

As luck would have it, I made it to Seoul in record time! My bus skipped its 15 minute pit stop break!  We pulled in to the terminal at 11:17. My subway app told me that the last airport express train (at the furthest subway line to get to) would depart at 11:27. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I flat booooooked to get there, running up and down escalators and through corridors with my suitcases... I can't believe I actually made it! I practically tumbled down the last escalator into the subway car as it pulled away from the station. Praise the Good Lord! 

That's what kind of day it was. Everything seemed to teeter on nope-not-gonna-happen and then *poof* it would just click into place! WIN. I love days like that. 

[back to the spa info]

I made it to the airport and found Spa on Air. Y'all. It is one of the NICEST jimjilbangs I've ever been to!! Its also one of the most expensive, but I think it's totally worth it for the experience and the convenience of being at the airport. It's decorated with ferns, soft light, and contemporary art around the facility, which adds to the relaxing atmosphere. 

Inside the spa area is rather small, compared to other notable jimjilbangs I've visited, with only 2 spa tubs, 1 dry sauna, and 1 steam room. The best part, perhaps, are the showers. First of all, they are semi-private. Privacy is an unusual surprise by itself. Secondly, they are waterfall showers! So refreshing! That plus the ferns... A girl can pretend she's in a secluded mountain oasis ;) 

Since it is a small facility, the women's sleeping room was actually full when I arrived. I (somehow) didn't panic. Everything had worked out so far; surely this would work out too! At the worst, I'd sleep on a bench by the check-in counters. Been there, done that. Anyway, I calmly asked, "Ok, so what do you suggest?" The desk attendant told me that the common room was crowded but if I could find space, I could stay there for 22,000 won, or I could book a private room for  32,000 won. Is that a choice?? Of COURSE I went with the private room-- I had a little bed with 2 blanket-type-towels and a pillow, all things you often go without when you stay in a jimjilbang. And the best part- no snoring old men nearby! I felt like a VIP! 

The spas were totally empty after midnight, so I had the room to myself. There were jets in the hot tub to massage your back and shoulders, too. I love it when they have those! I could sit there forever. There was also the typical cold tub, of course, to shock your system. It's really nice to jump in the cold tub before you go to the dry heat sauna, though I think I've read that you can die of shock going from cold to hot like that. Oh well, haven't died yet. 

Man it was relaxing. The perfect night before all this layover business with my connecting flights. 

I tell you what, I don't know HOW I have been to Incheon Intl so many times without going to the spa!! I'm never making that mistake again. I'll arrive 6 hours before my flight just to stay in the spa for a few hours! I'll definitely go there after I land next month, to unwind after my flight back from the States. So worth it! 

If you're ever flying through Seoul, do yourself a favor and check out Spa on Air! 

Now...5 more hours at Narita...I'm gonna go exploring. Adventure is out there! 

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