Having done a gruelling hike in the humidity the previous day, nothing seemed more appealing than a nice, relaxing dip. We’d spent the night in Danyang and ventured towards Aqua World for out first Korean swimming pool visit. We paid our extortionate entrance fee and changed. Once I finally found my way to the pool through the maze of lockers, I took a step back and surveyed the scene. The situation surely breached all health and safety rules. I was worried that there were more people than droplets of water in the main pool. It was packed to the rafters.
While I was concerned with numbers, my boyfriend was preoccupied with our swimwear. No one else was visibly wearing swim suits and if they were they hidden under several layers of clothing. This realisation prompted a quick move towards the water to hide under it’s protective cover. The modesty in the pool area couldn’t be more different to the relaxed nudity of the single sex baths and sauna just 100m away. Aside from feeling over exposed, the water slides were good fun and the outside hot baths were wonderful.
Making your way to these attractions was somewhat of a challenge. I would advise pysching yourself up first, perhaps by running on the spot in the water or taking a few deep breaths and then make your move. To pass by the multitude of inflatables you need to be flexible. To avoid elbowing, kicking or otherwise injuring any small children you need to have quick reactions. In order to snag the whole jacuzzi ensure you look foreign as you enter the vicinity. These are all handy hints to make your Korean swimming experience a good one. If you are not prepared, it could go horribly wrong. I did observe many a crying child, stressed out mother and chopstick wielding father running after his inflatable beach ball.
We ordered bulgogi burgers in the snack bar and sat down to eat. They were made all the more enjoyable by the constant staring that went on. After all we weren’t wearing the regulation lon shorts or sweatshirt in the water. Or a hat. We were lucky enough to witness the largest range of headwear you could even dream of. There was anything from standard lycra swimming hats to cowboy hats, baseball caps and safari, wide brimmed floppy types. And everyone was wearing one, even the tiniest of babies.
If you are planning a visit to a Korean swiming pool anytime soon, don’t forget a novelty hat, an inflatable dinghy and a swimming costume that covers you from head to toe. You should fit in just fine.