When I was little we neither have a bathroom nor our own source of water, hence, big sister and I took our morning shower in public. Armed with a pail, dipper, towel, and soap, our mother would take us to this artesian well in our neighborhood. In our birthday suit, Mama would bathe us with a bar of soap that doubled as our shampoo. Because I was too young I didn’t feel any shame about being naked on the side of the street. Now that I’m in my 30s, I thought I’d never bathe in public again, until I discovered Lasema Jjim Jil Bang Spa, a Korean-inspired public bathhouse in Makati.
Lasema is open 24-7 and patrons are allowed to stay there up to 12 hours. In the reception area, you will be given a locker key (which you should never lose lest you’d pay PHP700), a towel, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. You will then be directed to the locker room where you can find the powder room, shower area, steam sauna, and hot pools. A sight of nude bodies strutting about the area is to be expected. Not to worry because men’s area is separated from women’s.
In the common area, you can find the dry saunas or what they call the jjim jil bang. There are three hot saunas: the oak and clay sauna (as hot as my room in summer nights), the salt and charcoal sauna (as hot as my room in summer noontime), and the dome clay sauna (as hot as my room when you set it on fire). Unlike in my room though where it feels like you are being given a preview of what’s to expect when you go to hell, spending a few minutes in these saunas has health benefits.
Oak and Clay Sauna
Oak and clay help neutralize poisonous effects of heavy metal, which claims to alleviate symptoms of skin problems like atopic dermatitis and some respiratory problems like asthma.
Salt and Charcoal Sauna
Salt and charcoal help block electromagnetic waves, which increase negative ions. Benefits include relaxation, detoxification, and improved metabolism.
Dome Clay Sauna
The sauna of hell, I mean the dome clay sauna, on the other hand, has chungito mud, which has minerals that can release negative ions to help balance the energy in the human body.
There is another room in the dry area, which is my favorite, the Ice Room. It’s where you go after opening them pores in the hot saunas.
For ultimate relaxation, you may avail of Lasema’s massage services. The place has a reading room too, but if you don’t read Hangul then forget about it as they only offer Korean literature.
There are some restaurants beside Lasema but if you don’t want to leave the premises to grab some grub, you can just order from the snack bar. Selection is limited though. I recommend that you try Baked Egg (PHP15), Lamen (PHP150), and Shikhye (PHP100).
If you want to catch some zzs or you’re planning to spend the night over, you can squeeze in yourself in one of the sleep caves, or take any spot on the balcony on top of it. Also, there’s more space in front of the TV just beside the library. I advise against an overnight though especially if you’re after a good night sleep. The place can get noisy in the middle of the night because it’s when most patrons start coming in.
But if you want a quick escape from the hustle bustle of city life, Lasema Jjim Jil Bang Spa is a good place to go. If you don’t want it too crowded, take a visit after work on weekdays. I noticed that there are fewer people from 6 to 9 in the evening. Shampoo and soap are provided in the shower area so you don’t have to bring them anymore. The powder room is also equipped with powder, toothpaste, alcohol, and lotion. But I think what you should be prepared for is stripping down to your skin. If you ask me though I actually find it quite liberating. It’s like when I used to bathe on the side of the street when I was a kid. Regardless of the fact that I wasn’t born with an Angel Locsin figure, I liked the feeling of not being shameful of my body.
Lasema used to be located along Malugay in Makati. It has since moved into another location, here’s the new address: Lot 29 Blk 18 Sampaloc St., corner Estrella St., San Antonio Village, Makati, Makati