My first year in Indonesia, I experienced fish therapy for which I dangled my feet into a tub of water and let hundreds of tiny little fish nibble away at my toes. This year, I finally tried the famous cream baths, which have nothing at all to do with baths. It's a scalp and upper back massage. You get to pick out the cream of your choice: avocado, chocolate, ginseng, honey, or vanilla. Then, for at least 30 minutes, they paint it onto your head and massage it into your scalp. Your hair smells like the flavor of choice for at least three days after. Delicious.
|Gorgeous lady Fellows post cream-bath|
|Same ladies a bit less gorgeous. Fashion means sacrifice...like wearing plastic bags on your head in public because you forgot your umbrella.|
Jess convinced me to join her for a particular type of massage called "Foot Reflexology" a week after the Phuket Triathlon. I was aware of the term because I saw the parlors in every city I visited, announced by the familiar colorful picture of feet:
I wasn't sure what I was in for, but because my feet really did hurt, it seemed like a good idea. We walked into a nearby parlor. It was dark inside with vines covering the ceiling, sheets of glass with water pouring down them separating each chair, and natural sounds mixed with classical piano over the loud speakers. Still seemed like a good idea. The prices on the wall said 50,000 Rp ($5) for 60 minutes or 60,000 ($6) for 90 minutes. Seemed like an even better idea. We selected 90 (I mean, c'mon...), and were directed toward our chairs.
Enter creepy mustache man with purple sunglasses.
This man, dressed in what appeared to be a black uniform and military style ball cap, stood in front of our chairs and started asking questions. He was slowly counting Indonesian money from a wad of folded bills in his hand. I knew this was going to be one of those surreal OnlyinIndonesia experiences, so I braced myself.
"Do you want to get a massage?" Um...yes?
"Where do you live?" Near here.
"Where do you work?" Far from here.
"Where are you from?" America.
"Oh, America! I studied at UCLA, and my sister lives there now with her Australian husband" Nod. Eyes closing to indicate disinterest.
"You speak Indonesian!" Yup. One eye peaking open.
"Wow. I think it's great when foreigners speak Indonesia." Mmhmm. Eyes closed again. Please go away creepy man.
Creepy man leaves. Ok, still seems like a good idea.
Then the torture began. A young man, about a foot shorter than me, sat down on a stool in front of me. He placed my feet on yet another stool and started going to town. And by that I mean, he started digging his finger tips and knuckles into every part of my feet until I squirmed in pain. I tried biting my fist, grabbing the arm rests, texting friends, deep breathing...nothing could keep my mind off the pain this little man was inflicting on my body. Well, there was some comic relief when the man next to me belched loudly in time with the strikes on the back from his masseuse. That started me on a laughing jag that I couldn't suppress for a good ten minutes. Again, OnlyinIndonesia. Then back to the pain. I'm fairly convinced that getting a tattoo for 5 hours was less painful.
I guess the idea is that your feet carry the lion's share of the stress in your body, and that your foot acts as a map of your body. For example, your five toes represent your two ears, two eyes, and nose. When the torturer, I mean masseuse, scrapes his bony little finger down the underside of your toes, it's like he's scraping all the bad toxins and stress away from the matching areas of your body.