Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Better get Maaco . . .

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2014 at 3:27 am

In the US, if you need to have your car painted because of various dents and scratches, you go to Maaco.

In Korea, you go to the guy in the van on the off-ramp.




I guarantee all the extra paint and solvents were properly disposed of and not just dumped in the bushes.

Crazy is 8 ! ! !

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2014 at 3:19 am

Happy 8th birthday to the crazy little Stockdale.


Squeaky Clean . . .

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2014 at 7:02 am

( For reasons that will be woefully apparent as you continue reading, there will only be text in this post. )

Saturday was one of the many days Korea celebrates the fact that it is no long occupied by Japan.  ( Independence Declaration Day )  Therefore, due to the lack of coordination between the calendars of the Korean government, the international schools, and various multi-national corporations – Mrs. Stockdale got a day off work.   That meant that she had to be entertained while the little Stockdales where busy learning something at school.   Mrs. Stockdale referred to this as ‘our’ time.  Meaning, I had no say in what we were about to do.

Although there were various other ways I wanted to spend ‘our’ time ( counting tote bags, alphabetizing tote bags, or color coordinating tote bags ) Mrs. Stockdale convinced me the best use of ‘our’ time was to visit the local Korean sauna.  Please note, the saunas are open 24 hours a day.   That will be important later.

Mrs. Stockdale and her female friends visit the Korean saunas from time-to-time, however none of the husbands of the female friends of Mrs. Stockdale ( except for maybe the Korean ones ) have ever been brave/dumb/bored enough to venture inside.  Given my poor judgment and lack of alternatives, my fate was sealed by Mrs. Stockdale’s control of ‘our’ time.

To start, you enter the building and go to the front desk and pay your 12,000 KRW ( $12 USD in metric ).  They give you a numbered bracelet and some PJs.   Then you remove your shoes and go to the giant wall of shoe lockers and use your bracelet to unlock the appropriate shoe locker.   You lock your shoes in the shoe locker.   From there you separate from your Mrs. Stockdale at the elevators.   The Mr. Stockdales go up one elevator, the Mrs. Stockdales go up another elevator.

When you exit the elevator it becomes apparent why they have one elevator for Mr. Stockdales and one elevator for Mrs. Stockdales.  Greeting you immediately beyond the elevator doors is a collection of mostly Korean men of various ages.   Some are wearing the PJs, some are ‘not’ wearing the PJs.   There is a snack bar, some vibrating massage chairs, a place to buy clean socks, underwear and t-shirts, a barber shop, a TV showing the Korean version of CNN, lockers, sinks, hairdryers, and various doors and stairs leading to various places – all currently unknown to the first time sauna user.  ( Please note, the hairdryers can be openly and publicly used to dry any type of hair you may have on your PJ clad or non-PJ clad body. )

The next thing you do is locate the locker number that matches your bracelet.  You then put your possessions into the locker and become one of the many men ‘not’ wearing the PJs.  From this point you wander around aimlessly, ‘not’ wearing the PJs, until you happen through the door that connects to the showers.   If you’d like to stop and watch Korean CNN while ‘not’ wearing the PJs, that is perfectly acceptable.   So is grabbing a hardboiled egg at the snack bar while ‘not’ wearing the PJs.   Since you are ‘not’ wearing the PJs and don’t have pockets, the hardboiled egg is simply charged to the number on your bracelet.

The next thing you must do during this process is shower.  You have two shower options.   You can stand or you can sit.  The standing shower, being the one I’m most familiar with, was my choice.  If you are picturing a bunch of private shower stalls in a giant room, or even shower curtains, you are wrong.  If you are picturing a giant room full of men ‘not’ wearing the PJs all showering together, grab a tote bag.

After the shower, it’s time to soak.  There are options aplenty, however they only apply to men ‘not’ wearing the PJs.   There is the warm tub, the hot tub, the burn your skin off tub, and the cold tub.   Most of the men ‘not’ wearing the PJs spend 5-10 minutes soaking in one tub and then move to the next tub.   Rinse and repeat till you’ve been through the gauntlet of soaking.

At this point it comes time for the ‘scrub’.  There are various scrubs with various options with various price points.  Just the plain scrub.  The scrub with oil.   The scrub with oil and massage.   The scrub with oil and massage and a longer massage.  Or, the scrub with the head/neck massage.  Given my folically challenged nature, I choose the scrub with the head/neck massage for 30,000 KRW ( metric for $30 USD ).   The best past of the scrub with the head/neck massage is that it is performed by a middle-aged Korean man holding a brillo pad and wearing nothing but a Speedo.  The second best thing is that since you have no pockets because you are ‘not’ wearing the PJs, everything is conveniently charged to the number on your bracelet.

After charging my bracelet, the middle aged Korean man holding a brillo pad and wearing nothing but a Speedo then proceeded to clean 100% of my body with said brillo pad.  ( Please allow me to stress the 100% part of the previous sentence.  100%!  Yes, that includes there AND there. )  After that he washed my hair, and rubbed my head and shoulders.   Given that this was all performed by a middle aged Korean man holding a brillo pad and wearing nothing but a Speedo who then proceeded to clean 100% of my body with said brillo pad, I was VERY relieved that the head massage was fortunately NOT a euphemism.

Once the middle aged Korean man holding the brillo pad and wearing nothing but a Speedo concluded cleaning 100% of my body with said brillo pad and rubbed my noggin, I got in the steam room.   After the steam room, I decided to shave.   This time I took the first sit down shower of my life.  ( It will not be my last. )  For the sit down shower, there are numerous stations.   Each station has a small white plastic stool, a mirror mounted too high to see yourself while sitting down and too low for use while you are standing up, and a shower head connected to a hose so you can spray yourself down.   The first thing you do is spray off your stool and your entire station.   Since the last person to sit on the stool was ‘not’ wearing the PJs, you might want to spray the stool off twice.  In fact, you might even want to put a towel on the stool.   Since I was ‘not’ wearing the PJs, I chose to sit on the towel.   You then shower pretty much as normal, except you are sitting on a stool.   I will admit, it was pretty comfortable and a reasonably good method of getting clean.   Once you are done showering, you spray off your station and the stool.   This is important because you were ‘not’ wearing the PJs.  Please note there are other men ‘not’ wearing the PJs who are sitting all around you showering.

Mrs. Stockdale told me that I should meet her at the elevators where the adventure started promptly at noon and that I should be wearing the PJs.   At the appointed time and place Mrs. Stockdale and I met.   We were both wearing the PJs.   The next thing we did was play air hockey.  ( Again, this time UNfortunately, this was NOT a euphemism. )  We really did play air hockey.   It was charged to my bracelet.

There are various coed areas of the Korea sauna.   There is the aforementioned game room.   There is the salt room, which is basically a hot room filled with gravel and you lay on sheets on the ground and wiggle your back into the gravel.  There is the cold room, which provides all the enjoyment of standing in a freezer.   There is the low temp hot room, which is like standing in a room.   There is the medium temp hot room, which is like standing in  your living room if you leave the thermostat too high.   There is the hot room, which is like a sauna.   There is the coed sleeping room, where people lay on mats and sleep next to their significant other ( Again, thankfully no euphemisms. )  There is a pool.   If you forgot your swimsuit, it’s OK, they will ‘rent’ you one.   There is also a snack bar, a nail salon, and a place to get massages.   Not sure if the massage is performed by a Korean man holding a brillo pad and wearing nothing but a Speedo.

After all the fun ( by the way, I handily beat Mrs. Stockdale in air hockey 7-1 ), Mrs. Stockdale and I got into our assigned elevators and returned to the locker room.   At this point I took one more quick shower and explored a little.   In addition to all the exciting things I had seen before, if you went up a set of stairs there was a sleeping room.   Inside the sleeping room were countless mats with men sleeping on them.   Some men were wearing the PJs.   Some men were ‘not’ wearing the PJs.

Side Note:  Korean society has a pretty serious drinking culture.   They drink a lot.  So, if you stay out with your coworkers, clients, customers, or friends till 4:00 am drinking Soju ( metric for Korean vodka ) and don’t feel like going home to your wife, children or mother, you sleep at the Korean sauna.   Then, in the morning you wake up, shower, get scrubbed, buy new socks and underwear from the snack bar and head to work.

Mrs. Stockdale and I again met at the elevators this time dressed in our regular clothes.  We retrieved our shoes, paid for the bill associated with our bracelets and left.  Overall, it was extremely relaxing and enjoying.  Plus, as an added bonus, I was squeaky clean.   I can’t say I’ll go back with a bunch of buddies, but I definitely think I’ll go back.   I won’t call it fun, due to the countless men ‘not’ wearing the PJs, but it was definitely positive.

Mrs. Stockdale never discusses what the female side of the Korean sauna is like.   I’m under the assumption it involves pillow fights and the Swedish Bikini Team.

Reach for the sky ! ? !

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

Sometimes in Korea,  you play dress up at fancy parties.


While at the same time Mrs. Stockdale gets to pretend to end a problem that started over seventeen years ago.