In a past life (circa 2009), David managed the local Russian bath here in Seattle. It was there that he met our friend Helmut, who happened to be traveling with us in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan this past September. So it made perfect sense that we spend an afternoon in Almaty’s Arasan Baths, famous for being the largest and most opulent of all public baths in Central Asia.
The combination of David’s history with the banya and my living experiences in bath-intensive places like Japan and Korea make us avid bath and hot springs travelers. We seek them out nearly every place we go, from traditional Turkish hammams in Istanbul, to traditional Northern European spas in the Baltics. Public baths are a great place to get to know a culture, as they are frequently social hubs, where people gather to not only soak away the aches of the day, but also to gossip about the neighborhood’s goings on. Read more