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Sea Water Spas Chase Away Winter Chills

2012/01/03 | 196 views |  | Permalink | Source

The cold winter climes make it harder for most people to get out of bed in the morning, but some see the weather as a great excuse to venture to a hot spring created using sea water to beat the seasonal chills.

The port city of Incheon, west of Seoul, offers not just one but a street full of these after the first one opened for business almost three decades ago.

Sea water contains around 90 healthy minerals, including sodium chloride and magnesium, so it is believed that the relaxing hot currents formed by this are good for treating muscle ache, arthritis, dermatitis and other ailments. This is the reason why sea water spas are especially helpful during winter, when the cold weather makes the body stiff and ache and the skin chafe.

The health benefits of sea water hot springs were even cited in "Donguibogam", or "Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine", one of the definitive texts of Oriental medicine. The Korean medical encyclopedia was published by royal physician Heo Jun (1539-1615) in 1613.

Sea water clears away the build-up of dead tissue on the skin and acts as a natural exfoliant. Lee Hwae-ja, who has been running Yoorim Sea Water Hot Spa in Incheon for about 25 years, said, "We draw water from 150 m underground that has the same concentration of minerals as sea water. The substances in sea water cleanse the body and detoxify it so you end up feeling refreshed, especially when you're tired".

After a soothing soak, a trip to the Incheon Fish Market provides some dietary nourishment to make sure the body is replenished inside and out. This is the oldest fish market near the Seoul metropolitan area, featuring around 400 kinds of marine life including fresh crabs, shrimps, yellow corvinas, flatfish, clams and salted fish.

A plate of fresh fish mixed with red pepper sauce leaves nothing to be desired. Incheon Port is filled with restaurants specializing in fresh fish, and one street in particular is packed with eateries that sell fresh large-eyed herrings mixed with red pepper sauce. They also sell crab meat marinated in soy sauce and the two dishes are simply delightful.

Incheon Port also has much more to offer. A climb up the observatory offers refreshing views, while a new inland waterway opened recently linking the West Sea and the Han River that runs through Seoul. A ride aboard a ferry offers magnificent views of Palmido Island and Incheon Bridge.

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