Bath houses are different for every country.
- In the US we don’t have bath houses as much as locker rooms and locker showers while in Asian countries and in Europe they have actual bath houses.
- In Korea bath houses are used to basically clean yourself cleaner than you would normally, sort of hitting the refresh button on your skin. Bath houses usually have showers, pool areas, saunas and steam saunas for people to relax in after bathing. They also have common areas where men and women can sit together and watch TV, sit in a sauna, or relax but with clothes on of course.
- In Japan the concept is the same but many bath houses have special pools with herbs in the water to (essentially) help you relax. I haven’t been to many Japanese bath houses but from what I know there are no common areas to allow men and women to interact.
Europe was a new experience for me and since Wiesbaden is a town built on a hot spring, I though it’d be remiss of me not to go to a bath house during my visit. So for my final day, I went to the festival and had a drink with my German contact and parted ways. When I got back to my room, I grabbed a towel and bathrobe and made my way down to the bath house located within the hotel (Schwarzer Bock).
I made my way to the locker where I changed (into swim trunks, as specified on the wall) and made my way to the “bathing area.” There was a door to my left with steam saunas and showers currently occupied by some foggy figures and a pool area straight ahead occupied by an elderly couple wading around in the water. Both were dressed in what you’d see at any swimming pool or the beach.
The pool water was a nice warm temperature, not as hot as the hot spring itself as it is cooled before being delivered to the pool. I waded in circles and walked back and forth for the better of half an hour. It’d been more than a year since I’ve found myself in a pool and I was intending to enjoy it.
Now in Asia and in Europe, steam saunas are usually enjoyed in the nude and only in the company of the same sex. I was wondering where the women’s sauna was when I opened the other door when the realization hit me… hard. I opened the door to see a very nude, very elderly woman showering with her back to me. It took me less than ten seconds to close the door, back away, and scramble up the stairs back in the direction of my room. Now I spent a few minutes considering whether I should visit the local bath house down he street tomorrow morning. After all, there should be younger people there and maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But honestly, shyness got the best of me and I decided not to. Shyness and local ramifications should… my appearance be deemed unnecessary.
This was one hell of a trip.