A friend and I are headed to Byron Bay next week for a spa retreat, so she excitedly sent me the menu of beauty treatments we could book during our stay.
“I need lots of deep tissue massage,” she said, reasonably, while I silently scanned the website looking for something a little wackier.
I have good, oftentimes brilliant, massages at the Chinese-run parlour at my local mall. They also offer wonderful reflexology sessions, and their prices are at the very reasonable end, not $225 an hour. They are a no-brainer and I have them regularly, as I consider them to be an important contributor to preventative health.
As we are to be in Byron, or anywhere else in the world, I want the most out-there option there is. Mani, pedi, facial? Nah.
I want ear candling and shamanistic ritual healing and four-handed Kahuna massage by someone who speaks in tongues.
I would like an appointment with someone who massages my internal organs to discover where all the bad energy from loser past boyfriends is stored, which is obviously blocking my pathway to perfect health, not the pinot gris. I will save money on pesky activities like lunch or something that requires energy, and head straight for tarot readings, crystal healing and cranial sacral therapy.
On one trip to a health resort in Thailand many years ago, I spent an entire week trying everything on the spa menu, from Ayurvedic head massage, where oil was poured on my third eye for one hour, to a nifty treatment where I was supine on a water bed while listening to bird calls through enormous headphones as my feet were massaged.
Just prior to checkout, a nurse read blood pressure to make a comparison against the reading when I arrived. She looked at me
oddly and said, “Do you feel alright?”.
“Marvellous” was my reply. “Why?”.
Apparently, I was so relaxed, and my blood pressure so low, I was almost clinically dead. My 100 per cent cleansed, rested and near-death state was turned around radically later that evening, however, when after a glass of champagne and a green chicken curry on the plane, I promptly threw up in the sick bag, grossing out the guy next to me.
Obviously, any time in a steam room or spa pool with a stranger is off the agenda (many of us were nervous about the hygiene of shared spaces, even before COVID). I prefer to seek out treatments that work on the internal – I’ve always tried to find out who the local healers, or psychics or astrologers are in the places I visit, as I find these exchanges far more relaxing and interesting than a body scrub.
While I’m not a sucker, I’m also not a sceptic, and it sometimes isn’t until years later that you realise that the practitioner might have been right, you have developed problems with your knee, deep breathing does restore mental clarity, reiki is restful, Mum is always with you, but unfortunately, it appears loser Sean is still stuck in your kidney.