Today I ventured out to Gubei to go back to the New Star bath-house. I'd previously been to the bath-house with a couple of friends, one an ABC and the other a native to Shanghai. Between the three of us, one of us spoke and read only Chinese, the other spoke some Chinese but couldn't really read it, and I spoke and read absolutely no Chinese. It was kind of like playing the game telephone the first time I went to New Star. This time, I went solo, and it worked out fine. I do recommend going with someone who speaks Chinese if you can.
Okay, now let's talk about why you should go...because it's awesome! So you walk in to the building and you're greeted by a friendly person who takes your shoes and gives you a water proof locker key. The men and the women have separate 'bathing" areas, so for those of you who are afraid you're going to have to go look at a bunch of naked people, you only have to hang out with a bunch of naked people of your own gender. I personally have no problem hanging out with naked people but this seems to make some people squeamish. If you are squeamish, I suggest you try really hard to get over this and go to New Star if you have the chance. You will never feel cleaner than you will when you leave the bath-house.
Today I arrived at the bath-house at about 1pm on a Friday. (I recommend going during the week and leaving around 4:30pm, because this is when people getting off of work show up and the place starts to get crowded.) Okay, so I show up, give my shoes to the nice lady at the door and head up to the women's locker room where I put all my things in my little locker, today I was locker 554, unimportant but I thought I'd share. I strip down and head into the bath area where you're required to shower off before you can enter any of the bathing pools. There are a bunch of little shower areas with shampoo, conditioner and soap and you can purchase extra fun bath stuff for a price. Extra stuff like fun smelling soap, scrubby things and what-not. After you shower off you can play in the bathing pools until you're ready for a scrub down. There are only 3 bathing pools in the women's area, I don't know how many there are in the men's area, two of the pools are toasty hot, and one is ice cold. All the different kinds of scrubs and wet massages are listed on the wall....in Chinese and Korean. Lucky for me they have a little booklet with their services listed in English.
I picked out the regular scrub, which is the whole reason I went in the first place. You know that tingly clean feeling after you've scrubbed your face really good, that's the feeling you have all over your entire body when the scrub session is over. It's amazing. All the ladies who do the scrubs and wet massages are wearing cute black underwear sets, because the scrubs and massages are done while the person is completely nekked! Every part of you is scrub, yes ladies, even your breasts, no gentleman not your other bits and pieces. You get scrubbed about 4 times in each place total so when you're done your skin is extra smooth and silky. After my scrub the nice lady asked me if I wanted another kind of massage so I went ahead and thought, why not. And then I was covered in honey! It was pretty awesome. I had a nice relaxing massage covered in honey and then rinsed off with milk! That's right, I bathed in honey and milk and it was actually pretty awesome.
I rinsed off and the ladies working in the locker room provided me with a set of white pajama like things to wander around in. It was about 2:30pm by this time so I wandered down to the cafeteria to get some lunch. They have some pretty good food for a spa/bath-house. I had bibim-bop and read my book for a while before deciding to have another fun spa treatment. I decided I'd try a facial. I've never had a facial before and it seemed like a spa thing to do, and it was quite an experience.
The facial started off the way I thought it might, there were lots of different little lotions and massaging my face. And it was very relaxing, there was a humidifier and soft face scrubby stuff. And then the woman asked me if I wanted the hour facial, and again I though, "why not." So while I'm lying there with my eyes closed the nice lady comes back and says, "this will be very cold." And then proceeds to put really cold head creamy stuff on my face. It almost gave me a brain freeze, I'm not kidding. And the stuff melted and dripped all over the place, it was really weird, but I figured like all the other lotiony things it would only be on for a little bit and then washed off. I was wrong. The nice lady disappeared for about 20 minutes. I about dozed off and then I went to wipe some of the melted stuff off of me and realized it had gel-ified! I really wish I could have seen what I looked like because I bet it was awesome! When the nice lady eventually came back she peeled the thing off my face. I didn't get a chance to look at my mask because I was immediately attacked with more lotion. I would totally do the whole thing again. She even made my eye brows look nice at the end.
After my facial it was about 4:30pm and the place was starting to fill up with people who had just gotten off of work. So I went back to my locker and put all my things back on and headed for the front door. You pay on the way out by showing them your little locker key, and the people who have taken care of you tally your costs as you go and associate them with your locker key number. For 3.5 hours of relaxing, massaging and lunch it was 327RMB, that's $50USD, only 50 bucks to be pampered and eat lunch, it was truly awesome. I'm only sorry I didn't have more time to take advantage of more relaxing. I guess I'll just have to go again the next time Bob and I come to Shanghai.
For anyone interested in visiting New Star, you can get there using the 10 Metro Line. Get off at Longbai Xincun station and take exit 2. When you come up out of the metro station you'll have Hongjing Lu to your left. If you're facing Hongjing Lu walk two blocks to your left and you'll get to Wuzong Lu, turn left at Wuzong Lu and walk one block to Jin Hui lu and turn right. New Star is at that next intersection. (Be warned that this area is very industrial looking, it's not dangerous it just looks like crap.) You can take a cab there, just tell the driver " Xiangeng Lu and Jin Hui Lu." It costs about 30RMB to get to New Star from Jing'an temple. I'd recommend taking the metro to get to the spa and then taking a cab home when you're done, there are plenty around the area.
You'll know you've reached the right place when you see the above sign.
Love and kisses,