Sunday, October 17, 2010

A day Spa in Ubud - what a mess!

Now from the previous blog, you may have been led to believe that our day spa experiences are those of (vegetarian) caviar and champagne, well, sure that was pleasant, although people that spend the day in a day spa with children want their head read, are very dedicated.
In most cases, we'll take what we can get, even a 1 second sandy rub on the back from a 6 year old can be blissful on aching, weary, well travelled muscles.
Prior to arriving at the Holiday Inn, we were in Ubud, a beautiful place, filled with nature and arty folks. Pretty perfect for a couple of hippy travellers like us actually!
We decided one day, that we had done plenty with the kids and it was time for us to be pampered...........

Off we set, anticipation high ........ we had prepared earlier by asking our son to load every known movie on to his laptop and bring it with a power lead, adaptor, colouring books, reading books, crayons, pencils, word search books, the I Phone and any other possible distraction we could find.
We fondly remembered the days where we could say "let's go for a massage" and just leave, these days we required almost military precision about packing & entertainment to allow a precious quiet time.

Wandering up the street in Ubud, we visited several massage places........... too quiet....... the lady looked down her nose at the kids and their laptop, too posh.... we couldn't relax, thinking the kids may disturb someone....... finally we chose one, sure it was a little rough around the edges, but the prices were fine 55,000rp each (US$5.50) for a 1hr body massage followed by an body exfoliant and a mandi lulur (flower bath) which we were promised we could share together.
Best of all, they were quite happy to set up a table for the kids to watch their movies on and over the radio and the noise from the street, we didn't think they would bother anyone.

We deliberated for a while over the price - doesn't 110,000 anything sound like such a lot ?
Reminding ourselves it was actually AUD$13.75 for both of us for 1.5hrs, we agreed and strangely enough the girls were very surprised we were actually accepting their offer, in a state of bewilderment they led us through to the back room.
The told us to undress, lay on the table and they would return, they looked at us very strangely, in a way that suggested once they closed the door, we may both hurriedly make a break for it out the back entrance leaving them with 2 children in their foyer.

A few minutes later they knocked on the door and entered to find us both laying face down in our underwear (well me anyway, as it turns out I had accidentally given all Daryll's underwear to the orphanage in my swooping up of items. That's another story, which I probably won't share here, suffice it to say there is a large difference between western men's size medium and Asian men's size medium and upon returning to the hotel armed with new underwear, Daryll emerged from the bathroom hobbling quite a bit and really greatly appeared to be wearing a see through brown nylon band aid in place of underwear. He hobbled through the evening meal, taking around 6 tries to sit down at the table, before deciding he was fine and didn't need underwear in Bali for the next month anyway)

So here we were laying on the table, briefly covered in a sarong each, you could feel the sense of relief from the girls that we were actually still here and they set about with our massage.

OK - so it wasn't the Hilton, but when your muscles have lifted luggage, carried sleeping children through airports, walked 10's of kms every day and tossed legs over motorbikes, any pampering is greatly appreciated.

Our tired bodies were pummelled, shaken, rolled and moved........... bliss!

Then is was time for the exfoliant, the girls offered me a choice of 2 powders in containers, both looked like dirt, one said chocolate, the other said coconut, they both looked and smelt the same to me.
I shrugged and pointed to the 'coconut' container, they both nodded approvingly as if I had totally made the correct choice and zipped out of the room.

A moment later they were back........... each armed with a dish of paste, they stuck their fingers in and gently smoothed it over our bodies, OK....... a little gritty, but fairly nice, the paste was smooth and soft and it gently rolled across our skin.
The girls kept rubbing, the paste started to dry out which must have been what they were waiting for, they started vigorously rubbing in the one location.
Now, I'm not sure if our freckles were mistaken for dirt and they just reeeeaaaally wanted to do a good job, they appeared to only move on to the next body part once every pore in the location they were in was about 1mm away from oozing blood from being exfoliatingly eliminated.
Forget the skin being a protective covering, these girls were determined to rid us from the dry haggard looking shells we had walked in with.

I thought about resting on a beach with palms swaying and coconuts swinging gently above, alas I could only envisage the coconut falling off the tree and scraping down my shin leaving a blood red streak in it's wake.
I tried to tell myself my skin would look lovely and to drift off somewhere else, although in the faint recess of my mind I'm sure I heard my body emit a delicate though quite audible groan a little akin to the first wave of pregnancy contractions.

Finally the girls gently touched my skin and waved me toward to bath they had lovingly prepared for Daryll & I to share.

Ahhhh............. A Mandi lulur ........................ Gentle music courses through my mind, romantic notions of exquisite flowers floating in a sea of hot water with the love of your life ..................

Errggghhhhh ...................... music screams to a halt, ours is a pretty dinged up old bath with some lukewarm water trickled in by a hose and some frangipanis floating on top - ah well, they do smell nice and I sure need a bath to wash this exfoliant off............. it will do!

So, it's not quite 5 star, hey I'll take a bath that someone else runs
for me anyday, throw in a few flowers that smell nice - heaven!

The girls make a hasty exit for the door. I think they were a bit worried Daryll would stand up stark naked in front of them, they whisper 'take your time' and wink to me, glancing at Daryll.

The nod knowingly as if to let me know they understand no western man could possibly have a massage and not need it to have a 'happy ending'.

The bed is covered with exfoliant

Daryll & I look at each other and chuckle, he whispers to me "how's your skin" I tell him it was a bit rough at times.

"A bit rough !!!!!!!!!" he exclaims, "I think my girl was determined to rid me of anything that resembled skin at all".

We both giggle away to each other and then cast our eyes to the massage tables and floor, OH MY GOODNESS............. even my kids don't make this much mess!

I am sure glad I don't have to clean those floors

The floor is totally covered with muck, we can't decide if it is the exfoliant or skin that has taken us the last 15 years to grow, either way we are pretty glad we don't have to clean it up. Then and there on the spot, we decide the girls have earnt their money just in the cleaning up.

Emma has begged a 10 minute massage of her own out of one of the girls and they whisper through the door to ask if it is OK for her to have a massage and that they will charge us 10,000rp for her massage (AUD $1.20), we call back that will be fine.

Emma's private massage

Daryll & I slip into the lukewarm bath filled with a few flowers.

Romantic notions aside, we are both pretty intent on getting the rest of this muck out of every body orifice that was exposed to the girls.

Backs scrubbed and Daryll hops out, allowing me to relax and ............. just soak............. any mum does not need to be reminded how special a bath is without a child wanting to climb in with you.
Sure they are delightful and one of my favourite sayings (yes, still, even when the littlest is 7years old) is  "ahh, there's nothing lovelier than freshly washed children" (used to be 'babies' but we've adapted to age increases). She always appears after a bath/shower with a towel around her and winks at me, waiting for this saying and the swooping up in the arms towel and all that always accompanies it.
However, the realisation that NO ONE is getting in this bath with you is lovely!

We emerge, dry, clean, refreshed and surprise, surprise - our skin is glowing in a way not seen in a long time, all dry skin is gone, the sunburn that was starting to peel is gone, we look and feel fantastic!

Emma emerges refreshed and pampered in a lovely frame of mind and Gabe's movie is just finishing, ahhhh, don't you love synchronicity!

The girls are thanked and paid and still look strangely bewildered at the experience and we all set off to the next adventure looking all the better for our experience.


  1. Ummm nothing like a little skin removal to make your day.....didn't need that freckle anyway....

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