Earlier this week my roommate and I decided we would go check out one of the local tourist attractions, the large palace in downtown Seoul. I had never been to any of the palaces, I figured when I was here before that I would save a couple things to come back and do later, and this was one of them.
The palace is set right next to a high rise part of town with lots of commerce and news media buildings. Also several of the embassies including the American embassy is right by there.
Gyeongbokgung royal palace was constructed in the late 14th century, but it suffered severe damage a couple different times from Japanese invasions. They are still working to restore it, but only about 40% of the palace is still standing or been restored. For being only 40% the size of it was still quite impressive. I’ve been to the Forbidden City in Beijing and this had some similar construction. It was much smaller, but really didn’t seem to be a whole lot smaller.
The football team is getting ready for our next game. We play on Sunday at 10:30 in the morning, which means I need to be at the school at 6:30 am. We’ll be playing a very tough team, but we’ve got some great guys on our team so I think it will be a good match.
I kind of got sick yesterday (Friday) so today I was trying hard to take it easy. I was supposed to go to a baseball game with a friend but the game was canceled due to rain. So instead I went to the bath house to try and get a good sweat and freshen up.
I came upon an interesting addition to the bath house, cupping therapy. This has always interested me, those ceramic cups where they use fire to blow inside them and then stick them on your body. I’ve heard of this and have seen it in movies. I thought that would be a good thing to do, they say it’s supposed to help detoxify your body and force the bad things out. The practice has been used for over a couple thousand years and the claims of what it can do vary anywhere from nothing, to curing cancer. The idea is the suction can affect the skin 4 inches deep, bringing up toxins to the surface and allowing fresh blood to repair the deeper tissue. It invigorates blood flow, opens up your veins and capillaries. So anyway, why not give it a shot?
Now I have never done this before so I didn’t know what to expect. One thing I didn’t expect was for it to be extremely painful. It felt like a small alligator was clamping onto your skin. Just out of instinct I wanted to reach around my back and yank them off because they hurt! But sometimes good things hurt, a good massage can hurt, so I just went with it. She left them on for a long time and after a while the pain would go away. She would come over and take the cups off and it felt so good, but then she’d add a couple more and I really didn’t want her to, but I was pretty sure I was going to be paying the same whether I told her to stop or not. So I get home to look this therapy up on Wikipedia and here’s an interesting passage:
Usually treatments are not painful, but treatment should be discontinued if the person receiving it experiences more than minor discomfort.
I wouldn’t even call it discomfort, it was way beyond that. Great.
As for another thing I did not know, I did not know I would leave looking like an animal. This is great because I know tomorrow after the football game I’m going to be showering and changing and I look like an alien with all these purple circles on my back and stomach. And they do hurt, they feel like bruises. So this is go for tomorrow morning’s game.
But I wanted to try it, it’s something they do here. So when in Rome. I was looking it up online and found some interesting pictures from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Apparently several swimmers use this therapy (maybe more athletes, but with swimmers it is more revealing).
So that makes me feel a little bit better. Yes I’m that much of a serious athlete I need cupping therapy. I highly doubt I would ever do this again though, unless I feel some benefit tomorrow. For now though its just painful and I look funny.