"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

spa world

G and I spent our Columbus Day holiday in Fairfax County, VA. We went to the best Whole Foods anywhere for a root beer float and cheap gelato. We also went to our happy place that is Wegmans for some much needed grocery shopping and tax- and tip-free dining. We finally tried Honey Pig and even discovered a new-to-us Korean market. But the headliner of the day was our partially-Groupon-funded visit to Spa World.

(photo creds: Spa World)

It was our first time, and despite studying the website, we still had no idea what to expect. We've spoken to friends about it and Spa Castle in Queens before, but these conversations were vague and a while ago. We went less prepared than we should have been. We went with no change of underwear, personal toiletries, flip flops (because the place doesn't enforce any 'no shoes/slippers' rules, as they apparently do at Spa Castle), or the right state of mind (that of a person mentally prepared for what they will soon experience and ready to relax in such an environment). I think our lack of mental preparation hindered our ability to completely allow ourselves to relax, unwind, abandon our inhibitions. I even had to ask a stranger whether or not she was wearing underwear under her compound suit (the facility provides you with a top and shorts).

Anyway, so we did get food massages - it was our first time trying reflexology. I was in need of a foot massage because of recent running-related soreness and was looking forward to getting over my fear of massages.  It wasn't until after the massage started that I remembered Anthony Bourdain's comments about reflexology being a painful experience. I was not relaxed. My masseuse can attest to this. To get over the painful knuckling in my foot, I counted. The massaging of shin muscles did feel good, however, and provided some moments of reprieve. My feet did feel good post-massage, but my perpetual aches and pains returned by the end of the night.

We utilized a few of the sauna chambers and sweated a bit, alternating visits between the saunas and cold room. Not surprisingly, I did not see the relaxation in sitting in what I imagine being locked in a hot car would feel like.

So next was the issue of to bathe or not to bathe. There are bade pools in which one is required to be naked. I already knew upon arrival that I would not be partaking in the bathing (go ahead, call me a prude). G, on the other hand, was on the fence, until finally taking the plunge (pun totally intended) for a quick dip. I, in the meantime, was enjoying the best part of my Spa World experience - a cup of sikhye, or gamju or rice punch, from the juice bar.

We left after rice punch and bathing and changing back into our clothes. I'm still reeling from having to go to the bathroom barefoot. We both agreed that we don't have to return to Spa World and that perhaps the experience was hyped up in our minds. I'll give more thought about whether I'd be willing to try Spa Castle some day, as it does look way more cool, just by judging by the pictures on their site. My sentiment about spas still stands - I don't care for them.

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