So, get ready for a lot of things cat. 😉 As some of you might remember me saying, K and I were leaving for Chicago this weekend for a short vacation. Chicago is only a few hours away from us, which makes it one of the closest big cities around, so we go there often for mini-vacations. There’s a large Korean population in Chicago, which is another reason why we like to go there because we can visit a large store called H-Mart. H-Mart has locations across the US, but the ones in Chicago are the closest to us. Inside H-Mart there’s just about any kind of Korean food imaginable as well as some other storefronts. My new favorite store inside H-Mart is called “Fancy Pencil.” If the name doesn’t key you in to how adorable that store is, then perhaps the pictures of the things I got there will. The first picture is of two notebooks, stationary, two pens, an eraser, and a handmade kitty key chain. I was having a mini freakout in there because of how much stuff there is to look at. The store owner gave me the pens for free because he said that they write best on the nice Korean paper 🙂
He also gave me a discount on this dry-erase board, which I’ll put in my cubicle at work. I’m not a huge fan of Hello-Kitty, but I thought this was pretty cute 🙂
I also found this awesome cat cellphone charm that you attach to the spot for earbuds. So cute!
It’s not easy finding Maneki Neko (lucky cat) in the Midwest, or not for me anyway. H-Mart didn’t have any, possibly because it’s from Japanese culture. Finally found one at Mitsuwa (a store similar to H-Mart but with Japanese products) for a great price. It’s pink!
While at H-Mart, K and I both spotted a flier for a Korean spa/sauna. Of course it was right next to H-Mart! For $30 each we went to the sauna and I had an amazing time. I was super nervous about going in by myself because it’s separated by men and women in the changing rooms. I didn’t know what to do and snuck around the lockers looking at what other people were doing, but then the reality of the place struck me. Everyone was naked! Freely naked! I come from a very conservative community and am just not comfortable being nude. Seeing naked people of all ages and nationalities was definitely a new experience. I snuck to my locker as an old lady was taking off her pants and underwear and she was just standing there for all the word to see her you-know-what. I put the sauna clothes on and then took most of my clothes off while wearing the sauna clothes. They give you clothes that they wash and keep there for sanitation purposes. Well, K didn’t inform me that I was supposed to take everything off. I left my underwear on. That turned out to be a bad choice when I experienced how hot it could get in the saunas. Gross.
Anyway, here is a picture of us in the bul ga ma (fireplace) room. There were several rooms in the spa, each with a different theme. Korean saunas are heated from the floor and the floors in this sauna were lined with tatami mats for comfort. My favorite was the charcoal room and the fire sudatorium, which is actually heated by a fire and gets as hot as 240 degrees F! I didn’t know humans could survive in that heat, but you can 🙂 I did. I’m surprised that I actually didn’t have that many issues with the sauna. It was very hygienic there.
We decided nearly 3 hours later that we should probably get going, K and I split up again to go to the separate locker rooms/bath rooms. You’re supposed to shower and then can go in the steam sauna or the public bath. I was going to do both, I swear! That’s what I thought anyway, but of course when I went back to the locker room, I was confused about what I was supposed to do, so instead of asking I just kind of awkwardly walked around like I knew what I was doing. Then I saw a confident, European-American girl, nude as can be, walk into this public bath and then I could see other nude women in the bath. I was like, no way. Not in a million years K! I casually went back to my locker and put my clothes on over my sweaty body. Gross, I know, but kind of hilarious. The workers knew what I had done I think. They were very kind to me and thought it was cute when I dropped my socks on the way out.
We stayed one night at a hotel, which was near the airport and on the canal. It was cheap, but probably because it was literally only feet from a runway and I could hear ducks in the canal all night. I had an awesome trip and I did well OCD-wise, but I’m so glad to be home!
Chester’s glad too. He was soooo cuddly and purring so much when we came home. He had almost eaten through the huge pile of food I left him. I told him not to eat it all in one sitting 😉
Thanks for reading 🙂