“Ok, are you changed?” Purnama asks from the shower, allowing me privacy in the large couples massage room. “Yes. I have my kimono on.” She steps out while I’m unwrapping what appears to be a hair net or maybe disposable booties to cover my feet. My puzzled expression morphs into amusement as I unfurl an atrocious pair of hospital underwear. “Oh! Am I supposed to wear these?!”
I have never worn disposable underpants and I almost rip the elastic waistband clean off while trying to shimmy in. I’m pushing the one-size-fits-all limit. Asian sizing you know.
Once properly attired our massage therapists re-enter. Foot soaking and steams bath are next. Purnama translates for my masseuse and me. The steam bath is especially fun. Imagine a large black duffel bag. The bag is stretched over a square frame with a little chair set inside. Now picture yourself sitting on the chair, being zipped into the bag all the way up to your neck, so that only your head pokes out. This is the steam bath and I smile for five minutes thinking about how this contraption could be incorporated in slapstick comedy scenes.
Our massages begin on side by side tables. Tropical pink petals cover the floor and earthy incense fills the room. What a splurge! All is relaxing and more or less familiar until my masseuse reaches the top of my legs.
She asks Purnama a question in Bahasa and the three girls giggle while she looks for a translation on her phone. “Uhh, she wants to know if it is ok to massage your buttocks.” Ha! “Sure, that’s ok.” I laugh also. “That is definitely worth asking!” The buttocks massage seems much like other sports massages I’ve had in the States. Circular motions where the glutes meet the hip bones, and out to the hip and IT band. Straight forward, therapeutic.
Then a little tap on the outer glute and hip area. Oh… that’s different, I think to myself. Tap…tap…TAP…SMACK…WHACK WHACK WHACK! Deafening percussion fills the whole spa and I’m fighting hard to stifle laughter as my bum is whacked with the cupped hand of a small Indonesian woman. Is this really happening?! Finally she continues to my lower back and I unclench my butt cheeks. I’m not sure that was effective.
When it comes time to turn over Purnama translates another question. Would I like a breast massage? No, thank you, I decline. I am not adventurous enough for whatever that might entail.
The last odd technique is a series of pressure applications to my face and head. It isn’t very comfortable but I imagine my chi flowing freely and note the slight headache I had at the start has vanished.
The spa treatment wraps up and Purnama and I chat while gathering our things. I am relaxed, refreshed and beaming with a new story. $18 dollars and two hours well spent.