Monday, June 20, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 8: Balinese Massage

March 8, 2011
It rained 5 out of 5 days we stayed in Bali, sometimes even twice a day, to constantly reminding us that we are having a tropical climate. Karachi - my home city - also enjoys the tropical pattern, however, it mostly remains arid here. And when it rains in the metropolis, Karachites starts pondering whether it is a blessing or a nuisance!

Clouds; business as usual
The Natural Laundary
On the other hand, showers are a part of the local life in Bali, as are Gods and monkeys; however, unlike the other two it meddles little into daily routines! Bikers put on silver colored plastic coveralls, whenever it starts drizzling, which are always there in the little store under their seats while pedestrians quickly open up their mini umbrellas. Likewise, the infrastructure is adequately planned; Stormwater system is in place to drain the water quickly into the surrounding sea. Weather also gets better after a downpour with fresh breeze and cooler temperature. Overall, rain acts like a natural laundry after which the island comes out rejuvenated and more magical!

Cure to the Backache
It was the backache, an obvious consequence of biking around the island, which brought us back from the heaven to the earth! That also gave us another reason to try out the generations old cure for physical ailments: the Balinese massage. Our bodies also required an overhaul before we would have started the Malaysian expedition which had to be strenuous, if nothing else!

The Way to Ubud

Journey continues

Going up the hill
Heading to Ubud
Finding an authentic massage based on the ancient techniques of pacifying both the body and the soul, rather than those sprawling rip-offs some of which do more than just the massage, was the main challenge. In our quest for the genuine, we headed to Ubud, island’s cultural center, and a more genuine reflection of the Balinese way of life. The word “Ubud” itself had been derived from the Balinese word “Ubad” which means “medicine” signifying the city’s role in providing with herbal plants and medicines to surrounding regions from centuries.

Easy Excuse
As soon as we joined the road to Ubud, we realized that the half a day trip, and that too including the treatment, is an injustice to this culturally active town. Urooba had been tempted by the enroute jewelry showrooms which specialize in the handcrafted silver ornaments; another reason to spend more time in the town. However, we could not take a sojourn as we had to reach back early to pack our luggage for the early morning flight the next day. Pitiless me!

Gua Gajah
It was a long ride, of more than one hour, during which we had to consult every now and then from locals whether we are going in the right direction. Even then we lost our way and only realized when the road sign told us that we were heading to Gua Gajah, the elephant cave! Luckily, we were not that off track and made it to our destination, i.e. Zen Spa off Hanoman Street, where we had taken a prior appointment.
Asking the right path

Whiffing Like a Botonical Garden
The ambiance was relaxing and cozy; a slow fountain besides the reception was adding to the serenity of the place, rooms were subtle yet clean with windows opening towards fragrant gardens, and above all the staff was humble and all local. The menu listed a host of tempting combinations but as a naïve audience we let the staff chose their favorites. After we finished, Misha also got a complimentary hot water floral bath as a prize for her patience and for making friends with one of the staff! The pleasure ended with a cup of herbal tea after we which we started the return journey whiffing like a botanical garden!

Finally we reached there

Outside of the spa

The Menue; all traditional

I love floral bath!
Something for the Aunt Brigade
That also gave Urooba a clue about the souvenir to take back for the platoon of Misha’s Aunts; Khalaas and Phoppos! So we stopped by at a famous store and the crazy shopping continued until we were left with few pennies of the local currency, just enough for our last dinner in Bali!

50 Means 50,000
Loaded with herbal scrubs, coconut soaps, and the related stuff, we were on our way back to the guesthouse when Urooba spotted a night market displaying local clothes. She made a quick peek and came back really excited that her favorite trouser is going cheap for 50 local bucks. That eventually turned out funny as the shopkeeper refused to sell the trouser for the quoted amount! Actually, in Indonesia vendors usually omit “thousand” to cut it short which created the hilarious situation. Actual price of the trouser was 50,000! And that was still reasonable!!

While packing for the morning flight to Kuala Lumpur we were fancying if we could have a couple of extra nights to enjoy the island up to the Northern coast without knowing that a devastating earthquake and tsunami had to hit the island in the coming days!
Our last dinner in Bali

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