Nestled in a secluded valley, surrounded by mountains, the exclusive spa is known as Kalliso 22 is one rarely seen by western eyes, due to the long, difficult journey to get there and the exclusive nature of the clientele – you usually have to be someone’s relative in order to gain admission. But I have become one of the lucky few, through a process I barely understand even now. One moment, I was laughing at a particularly hilarious photo of a fat man in a funny uniform; the next, no doubt inspired by my evident anti-obesity sentiments, I was being escorted to what I’m told is Korea’s premier weight-loss spa.
Korean spas can be an unnerving experience for those unfamiliar: yes, co-ed nudity is a thing, and at Kalliso 22, you may even find high-pressure cold-water cannons trained upon your nether regions. This, no doubt, is a fertility treatment, and makes you feel especially virile! Afterward, you re-dress in hand-sewn pajamas made from locally sourced artisan cloth, and shoes sculpted from organic, indigenous rubber. It gets you out of your conventional headspace in a hurry; the first step towards forgetting all you think you know about healing from a western perspective.
Treatment begins with some vigorous exercise, as specially handcrafted removal tools are given to you for the extraction of natural minerals found deep underground. The cardiovascular-intensive routine includes a lot of bending down and reaching up, while the carrying of the mineral supplements helps you to firm up muscle tone in your arms. Once you’ve been pushed to your limits by this process, wind down with some natural gravity reversal, as you hang from your ankles – bound in a proprietary blend of gluten-free fibers – atop a scented flame.
One of the very best aspects of Korean spas is the yummy ethnic eats that come with the treatment, and this experience in the Northern provinces was no exception, as pesticide-free cabbage leaves and non-GMO cornmeal were combined in a light, low-caloric broth referred to by the locals as Thinh Gru-EL. Its ability to melt one’s fat away are easily attested to by the many, many attendees whose ribs are so visible you can count them!
I’ve been here at least seven days already and the staff are extremely encouraging; every time I even suggest going back home, they tell me no, my treatment is not yet finished. I’ve tried to call my mother, but in the interest of eliminating all outside distractions, telephones and the internet are not allowed here. Honestly, I’m not even sure what day it is anymore, but I notice I am losing weight fast. I just hope there’s a hair salon I haven’t been privy to yet, as I have unfortunately noticed a little thinning. Some good conditioner ought to clear that right up.
People tell me no-one ever leaves, but I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. It would just be bad business to keep your loyal customers on a starvation diet forever. When do I get a cheat day? What’s that? I said “cheat day.” No, no, I didn’t mean I cheated! It’s a figure of speeeeee….