It was a toss up between the traditional Javanese Lulur Wrap, the Swedish massage and the Balinese boreh. “Often called the ‘Queen’ of body treatments, the Javanese Lulur Wrap was practiced in the palaces of Central Java since the 17th century,” the brochure describing the various treatments read. Tempting, I thought. “Today,” the brochure went on, “it is used as a purifying ritual for the bride before marriage.” Oh dear.
“I’ll go for the Balinese boreh,” I told the spa manager, Damodaran Kallippal, 32.
Indu, my therapist for the hour lead me past the jacuzzi, a foot massage area which had six massage chairs and footstools lined up, and six other massage rooms. We entered a dimly lit room with a massage bed in the centre. Two doors at the end of the room led to a cloakroom and a shower.
Disrobed and kneaded
The Balinese boreh is a full body treatment that begins with a scrub. Indu meticulously applied the powdered mixture and then left me to contemplate the ceiling, wrapped snugly in white sheets. Five minutes later, I was asked to take a warm shower before we started with the second round — the full body massage with aromatic jasmine oil. The massage, Kallippal had informed me, includes four main techniques — effleurage, kneading, tapotement (hitting with the sides of the hands) and pressure (circular and static) on the body’s various pressure points. The Balinese boreh definitely included some amount of kneading, tapotement and pressing of the pressure points. A lot in fact.
This massage is good for reducing stress Indu informed me, just before I felt a sharp pain rush up my ankles. Indu was working on my sole’s stress points. A few squeals later, she decreased her pressure.
When she started working on the pressure points in my palm, a few more squeals followed. But my feet did feel a lot calmer — if it is possible for feet to feel calm, that is.
To a happy place
By the time my back was getting pummelled, my hands were drifting off to a happy place too. The smell of the jasmine oil reminded me of my mother’s homemade apple jam and I would have joined my hands and feet in their happy place too had Indu not leapt on to the bed to use her knees and elbows to press my spine. Quite suddenly, she sat me up and turned me sharply, first to one side, then to the other. As the bones in my back cracked, I felt truly freed of pain and stress and all the ills that plague our modern lives.
Indu leapt off the bed, took some medicated coconut oil in her palm and poured the lukewarm liquid on my forehead, letting it meander to my scalp. What followed was a quick and snappy head massage. Over, Indu said, smiling.
I was led to the steam room and in the time I was there, the shower room was prepared. A new soap and three bottles of bathing foam, shampoo and conditioner were placed.
A warm shower later, I felt all new and limber. This, I realised, was something I could do more of.