Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A non-Thai relaxing massage in Thailand

They say you haven't been to Thailand if you haven't seen the reclining Buddha (Wat Po), got on a boat on the Chao Praya River, bargained in the night markets, rode the tuktuk, and had a Thai massage.

Well, in the 3 visits to Thailand I have made over the years, I've done them all, except for the Thai massage.

This year, I got the closest thing to it, though--a non-Thai massage. It was an hour-long aromatherapy massage which was so relaxing and memorable, I would have had it again the next day, and the day after that, or every day even, if it were possible.

Our hosts, the amiable people of Goodyear who were launching new tires then, billeted us members of the press at the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa, a beachside place by the Gulf of Thailand, some 3 hours away from Bangkok.

It was a wonderful resort hotel, with the cool waters of the swimming pool winding around the villas leading down to the infinity pool a few meters away from the beach. The casitas with their red cushions strategically placed around the pools looked so inviting for those who want to lounge around, curl up with a book, and sip a refreshing drink in between dips to the pool.

 Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa. Photo by Karen Galarpe

Our hosts asked the 4 of us from the Philippine press if, after the event at the racetrack that day, we wanted to have a massage at the resort hotel's Aspadeva Spa or go to the night market. We chose the massage.

So on our 2nd night, we were booked for massage service at 9 p.m. The spa receptionist had a message for us: eat light for dinner. So I just had caesar salad and fish fillet from the buffet table at the resort hotel's Black Restaurant.

It was there that a Goodyear executive, about to have his dinner, warned us not to get the Thai massage as it turned out to be more uncomfortable and a bit painful than relaxing for him. And so when we trooped to Aspadeva Spa from Black Restaurant, we said we're having the Aroma Fusion Massage (2,100 baht), not the Thai massage, for 60 minutes.

The gracious lady at the reception area gave us a choice of massage oil, letting us get a whiff of three kinds of massage oil. One was lavender, which was calming, another was lemon, I think, and then orange. We all chose orange.

My massage therapist, Wen, led me to a private massage suite which had its own changing room with a dresser. A couple of red silk robes, disposable underwear, and slippers were ready.

Wen then got a basin with warm water, and bathed my feet in it while I sipped cold lemongrass tea. She asked me where I was from, and when I said Philippines, she said people from the Philippines are friendly. Then I got on the massage table face down, and found myself looking at a bowl of floating flowers placed strategically in my line of sight.

I told Wen what I like: hard strokes on the upper back, light massage on the legs, hard strokes on the soles of my feet. She would ask often if the pressure was okay.

I felt the hard knots on my upper back being loosened, the tension being addressed. Ah, This is what massage is all about, I thought. It's healing those aches and pains. It was so good I didn't want it to end.

But it had to, after 60 minutes. Back at the reception area, we were given hot ginger tea and a warm face towel. And as we sipped our tea, we all had smiles on our faces. We may not have been yanked and twisted away here and there via a traditional Thai massage right in the heart of Thailand, but it was such a great way to end the night. Can't wait to have such an experience again.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Four years ago, my friend Richelle gave me the slim book Handle With Prayer by Charles Stanley. It took a long while before I got to read it finally recently, but I felt it was the right time. It tackles topics such as why our prayers are not answered, how to pray in the will of God, fasting, and praying for others. A book certainly worth reading.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14