[At the bus terminal]
There has been a crazy man out front ranting since before I arrived. But he is not so crazy that he did not bring an umbrella in case he would have to yell, unheaded by anyone, in the rain.
It’s almost 8. I’m waiting for Se Eun and Se Ho and the later they get, the less likely are the cookies that I bought at the “Teomineol” Bakery to last until we get to the movie theatre. Or the Tuminul Bakery, depending on whether you read the sign out front or the plastic bags. Here we have the word terminal adopted into Korean–터미널–and then re-romanized from the Korean, the way that they translate the 어 having changed from “u” to “eo.” Which is precisely why I went to that bakery instead of the nicer looking one two doors down. I am a sucker for Konglish.
When they arrive, Se Ho informs me that we are not going home tonight. Instead we will stay at the jim jil bang, the public sauna and go back in the morning. Nice that they thought such information as where I would be sleeping that night (or lying awake restlessly) was important enough to tell me before I left that morning. Se Eun’s mother did, at least, send her with a clean change of my underwear.
So I’m eating a cookie on my sleeping mat, downstairs from the saunas, in the dark, Blade is on the television and men are snoring in the corners. Some of the jim jils are encrusted with agate and fossils. The hottest room is shaped like a kiln including with two by fours on which to lean. All I know is that it is more than 67 C in there.
So that was my first experience of the Korean bath houses. With Korean teenagers, being woken at 6am “Sara, are you cold? Let’s sleep in hot loom,” sleepily stumbling upstairs, sticking my head in the room that is over 100 degrees, waving goodbye to go back downstairs and being asked by some Korean lady leaning against the wall near the stairs if I had come to this jim jil bang from America all by my self. Or something. And then getting naked for the morning ablution with my host sister whose functional English is minimal.
And I really thought I’d die on the cab ride home. What I miss most about America: back seat seatbelts.