As the weather warms, I’ve been inundated with strong nostalgic feelings. At least, I’m labeling them as such. The smell of summer and all its possibilities is right there, lingering in the 15°C air. I can taste it. And so, these feelings of what-I-assume-to-be-nostalgia bubble up from deep within the brain folds of my mind and have me looking to the coming months with joy based on warm memories of the good times sunshiny weather brought.
Looking forward to the summer means baring some skin. And right now I’m a few shades paler than transparent. Which, in the haze of my nostalgia had me thinking to a time I went indoor tanning in Seoul to remedy just that. My pale pale ass. Interestingly, I posted my experience in early March of 2011 about my early March experience in Seoul in 2009. And looky here! It’s early March.
I had been teaching ESL in Korea for the past eight months and decided my health would benefit from doing some laps at my neighbourhood’s community pool.
Now before donning a swimsuit in front of my male North American coworkers, I felt the need to get my pale self some colour. This was early March; not exactly warm tank-top and short’s weather. As a result, I decided to look into indoor tanning.
For those not in the know, it has been my experience that Korean’s don’t frequent tanning salons. Not only that, but in all my beaching adventures within the country it was rare for me to see anyone baring their skin – shorts and t-shirts, yes, bikinis and tank tops, no. Whitening beauty products could be found where, well, where beauty products were sold. Men on subway cars vehemently sold long, coloured sleeves (that’s right, tubes of material) to protect your arms from the sun.
Now my plans were to go to Itaewon, where I’m sure I could have found a more western friendly place. However, this was not in the cards. A woman I tutored learned over one of our sessions this was my intent and so she took me to Apgujeong and said she would help me sign up for a tanning package.
Once there, I forked over quite a few won, Julie left and I was on my own to figure out what this tanning “attendant” wanted of me. She brought me to a closet-of-a-room and in a flurry of hand gestures and about three words of English told me to get undressed and…wait for it…call her back into the room!?
I did, after wrapping a towel around myself and calling, “Hello, miss?” She came back into the tiny space and took my towel! She then proceeded to lotion my backside. I’m talking all over. Shoulders, right down to my bum! I thought, hey, this is strange, but when in Korea, just roll with it. Besides, it was kind of like an upright massage.
I continued to go back there, but once I figured out how to work the tanning capsule, I lotioned myself, thank you very much.