Sunday, November 05, 2006

A day at the races

Today my body went through quite a roller-coaster of experiences. In the morning, I rounded out my first week of marathon training (er, first HALF week of marathon training is more accurate...) with a 10 mile run. I found one of Gwangju's rivers, and ran on a road that followed it until it was time to turn around. One side of the river was sprawling marshland covered in tall grasses going to see. The other side was a long string of farming plots tended by old men and women. There were many small lean-to huts in between the vegetable plots. On the other side of the rode were a few golfing driving ranges and several churches.

I also ran past a funeral home where a hearse with the back converted into a golden temple roof was parked.

As I was running back, a woman in jeans and a jean jacket started running next to me. Soon she fell back, but I could hear her continuing to run behind me.

This afternoon I went to the "Jimjirbang", or Korean bath-house/sauna. Upstairs I sweated away in various rooms. There was a salt room where the floor was covered in large salt crystals and the walls were made out of salt bricks, a coal room, an ice room complete with fake snow and a snowman, an earth room (my favorite), and a pine oven.

Next I got a much needed sports massage. After an hour of intense pain (sometimes the masseuse would literally hit and slap my muscles) my body felt, surprisingly, refreshed. We'll see how I feel tomorrow morning...I don't know whether the massage will end up producing head-to-toe bruises or alleviating muscle soreness.

Finally, I went downstairs to the baths. There was a Chinese medicine, an herb pool, and a Japanese wood pool. There were also cold and hot baths, as well as baths outside and baths with all sorts of massaging jets. A little girl latched on to me and followed me around. She gave me some pear juice and kept gesturing about my eyebrow ring.

Now I'm ready to take a looooong nap.

Perhaps I'll write more about jimjirbangs later. You could literally stay there forever if you wanted because they are open 24 hours, have places to sleep, and serve food.

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