Excerpted from Singapore’s arguably most famous sitcom in its heyday, the mantra of its lead protagonist, the honorary Phua Chu Kang (PCK), was how he was the “Best in Singapore, in JB and some say Batam”. This might ring true if PCK were to say, now start a spa chain in Southeast Asia 송파스웨디시.
My first perception of massages stemmed from the media images of seedy parlours in Geylang. The seemingly less prurient purposes of massages are not unbeknownst to me of course. I knew about the ubiquitous massage of the freelancing lady, usually from the Malay community, always a whizz at expelling the post-natal bulge.
Then when my parents scrambled for cheap Thai massages in Bangkok, I subconsciously compartmentalized massages to an older person’s sport. However, after you slog it out for a couple of years in the workforce, you discover that the apple has not fallen that far from the tree when you start to occasionally indulge in the healing rituals of “wellness” with massages, amalgamated from different lands, swirling spa pools, oxygenated rooms, all in an ambience heretofore known only to luxury island hoppers.
As a self-proclaimed but not a certifiable spa aficionado, I shall share with you what little I’ve gleaned from sampling the spa menus in Singapore (and some say Batam). For my encounters of the spa kind, I have attempted the Oriental Tui Na, Balinese Spa, Javanese Massage & Scrub (with Mandi Lulur or Milk Bath), Aromatherapy, Hydrotherapy, Ayurvedic spa, Hot Stone Therapy, Swedish and Deep Tissue massage.
My humble “101 manual” for the future Spa connoisseur (dare I hope), is here with some simple tips for you to optimise on the experience, which is nothing short of “Sense-sational”:
– The only time you like somebody to talk to you behind your back is well if a masseuse checks with you about the level of firmness of her stroke. If you have interacted with some, you might find that the well honed therapist generally is proud of her craft. But fear not, about indicating your preference, stroke-wise, to her. I know that they will not take it personally unless you have caught one fledgling off guard on her first day of work?
– If you are wound up like a toy, like most urbanites, with stiff shoulders that ergonomic chairs help alleviate only so much, do try either the Swedish or the Deep Tissue massage. The Balinese spa can be quite a treat and I have heard that the marine elements of the spa treatments are generally more relaxing. In the website by Associated Content, they mentioned that the Swedish massage is more relaxing than the Deep Tissue massage whilst the latter is “good for problem muscle areas”.
– If you cherish the thrills and spills of an additional contraption used on the body, opt for the ayurvedic rice bolus (Njvara Kizhi) massage or the hot stone therapy. For the rice bolus massage, there is the tantalising ball of muslin cloth containing special rice dipped in herbs slathered on your body. It felt like having desiccated coconut rubbed onto your body. The heated volcanic stones placed at strategic points on your body, combined with Swedish massage techniques, provide for an interesting spa experience.