Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting Fired Up in a Bulgama

After a long day of skiing at Yongpyong Resort one weekend,  we headed down the old Daegwallyong Highway to find 대괼령 불한증막 사우나 (Daegwallyong Bul-Hanjeungmak Sauna). This sauna is popular for their amazing bulgama, or extra hot clay oven sauna. I didn't see the exact temperature posted here, but generally these saunas are around 100˚C, aka boiling point. The bulgama here is extra special because they use pine wood to heat the sauna and the inside of the bulgama has piles of pine branches to feel the pine aroma.

Duck down low to enter the bulgama

While it seems that no human could survive in 100˚C temperatures, because the heat is dry, and because no one would spend more than a few minutes in here, it's actually great for your body.  As soon as you enter, you immediately start to sweat. Sitting on the floor is wisest, because heat rises, of course, and you can feel a difference in temperature from the ground to when you stand up. Generally, people don't spend more than 5 minutes in this sauna, and I couldn't bring my camera in, for fear of damage from the heat.

The sign has been burnt from the intense heat from the bulgama

I only spent about 2 minutes in here at a time because of the extreme heat. Five minutes is probably the maximum for even a healthy person, though, this man from Finland withstood 100˚C for 30 minutes to break a world record. I don't recommend attempting to do what he did though...

Hot, sweaty me after 2 minutes of 100˚C temperatures

While the bulgama is the main attraction at this sauna, there's more than just that. Another great room was the salt room where you can lay on hot salt crystals and pile them on your stomach and chest to feel the heat radiate through your body.

Salt Sauna

Another nice sauna was the 쑥 (wormwood) sauna, which was filled with the herbal aroma of sook. And, just like any good jjimjilbang, there was a cafe, restaurant, massage areas, comic book reading rooms, and a bath area with three different baths. We particularly liked the eggs sold in the cafe which were steamed from the heat from the bulgama.

Eggs steamed in the sauna. Three for 1,000 won.

From Yongpyong resort, it's quite easy to reach this sauna by car. Take the old Daegwallyeong highway which starts near the highway exit in Hoenggye. Follow this road down the old, twisting road for about 14 km until you see the sauna on your right. It's one of the few buildings on the road. At least one staff member is fluent in English.
Visit their website here:

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