August 11, 2008

A Touch of Samsara

By Su Aziz

NAMED for rebirth, a spa strives to live up to it, writes SU AZIZ.

SAMSARA, in Hinduism and Buddhism, depicts the endless or eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.

As you can see, it is a name that carries a lot of weight and meaning. Therefore, Samsara Spa chain of Swiss Garden Hotel and Resorts has quite a big shoe to fill. The question is, can it?

Heavily deriving inspiration from the spas of Bali, Samsara Spa displays plenty of physical similarities in its decor. There are also same attitudes of the mid-range spas of Bali. For instance, blithe regards when it comes to one's state of undress and for its Kuala Lumpur branch, peace and security. Three important ingredients that can elevate one's comfort level. For me, at least.

The spa offers a range of Balinese, Malay and Thai traditional massages and treatments of an hour from RM180 to close to two hours for RM290. I opted for its Samsara Healer which promises to relieve fever, headaches and muscle aches with its boreh body wrap of herbal and spices ingredients. This is followed by a bath infused with similar ingredients as the wrap and then finished with a Balinese massage. A two-hour pamper would surely rejuvenate and lift off the draining headache caused by this constant crick in my neck. Or so I thought.

Although the ingredients of the boreh exuded an enormous amount of heat, its loose wrap, however, failed to contain the warmth long enough for my body to absorb its goodness fully. The 20 minutes allocated for this part of the treatment was interrupted intermittently by conversations in the corridor, just outside my door, which resulted in a feeling that the wrap session was rather perfunctory.

Nevertheless, all was redeemed during the bath which is separated from the treatment room. That is, until I realised that there seemed to be endless traffic going in and out of my treatment room. Oops, I thought, my valuables (which included my notes from a previous interview) were unattended. Hmmm. Hard to relax, now!

So, in a surge of discomfit, I got out of the bath in half the time allocated, dried myself up and waded out to the treatment room. Quite surprising my Balinese masseuse was waiting.

The treatment continued, prematurely needless to say, to its final stage - the Balinese massage. Always a favourite of mine and effective in temporarily lifting my aches and pains. My request was for strong pressure. It was, well, adequate but far from what my knotted muscles needed.

A Balinese massage is meant to stimulate blood circulation, knead deep tissues and relax tense muscles. Long, pressured strokes caused by either the palms, fists or elbows, are meant to be endless and languid.

Touch is the main ingredient of a Balinese or Malay massage. The masseuse never or hardly ever lifts a hand off your skin. Transferring and emitting bouts of warmth which is then absorbed by the recipient of the massage. It is about stimulating blood vessels to work at their optimum level. That is why I love either one of the two types of massages. Alas, just not the one served up on that fateful day, in a place that carries the concept of eternal cycle of rebirth.

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