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Spa Betty Series: Bali

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The First Massage A Little Shakey
A bad massage is like oral sex from somebody with a cat tongue. Irritating and wholly lamentable.

Since this is my first massage in Bali, I’m not sure if I’m not liking the technique or the technician. After a while I am shuddering at the anticipation of her touch. The only thing I have to look forward to is having my fresh mosquito bites scratched accidentally.

I feel bad that it’s going badly. She is really putting a lot into it. But the language barrier is making it difficult to get the point across that she’s actually hurting me. I’ve tried “too hard,” “too much,” “hurts,” and “ow!” Finally I lift my head and flap my arms and she gets the point.


“Ya! Ya! Soft!” I reply.

So she lets up, but since she’s not varying her strokes, the same point on my calf is getting ground down to the bone. Softly.

Pretty sure I’ll be bruised by morning, I decide that tomorrow I’ll forgo further poking and try a scrub.

To be fair, I’ve heard it depends on the technician at this place (although to also be fair, a spa should only ever hire competent staff). My fellow villa-mate went here twice and said the first massage he got was great. The second was lousy. My advice: When you find someone whose technique you like, make sure to request her specifically for next time. And when you find someone whose technique you loathe, remember her name so you can make sure you don’t ever get her again.

Travel Betty Basics
Sicilia Spa
(Jl. Double Six, Legian, Bali)
Telephone: (62-361)736292
Ambiance: 4.5 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Treatment: 1.5 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Cost: 77,000 rupiah (including tax)
What that means in U.S. Dollars: $8.39

Second Base On Day Two. Things Move Fast In Bali

After yesterday’s rough and tumble massage at Sicilia Spa, I decide to give my muscles a break and focus on my epidermis. One of my favorite indulgences in San Francisco is the Javanese Lulur Body Treatment at Kabuki Springs and Spa. Currently inhabiting the island that neighbors Java, I am delighted to discover that lulur is extremely popular in Bali.

So I wander into Putri Bali II, and am led into the fairly basic treatment room with a massage table, an open shower stall and a tub. I am grateful that this time the woman gives me instructions. She asks me to undress and before she leaves, hands me a pair of disposable underwear (the kind you’d expect the makers of hospital gowns to invent).

I slip into my new drawers and hop onto the table facedown. Then the woman comes back in and starts rubbing an exfoliant of turmeric and rice powder all over my legs, arms and back. At this point I start wondering what’s going to happen when I turn over. There is no towel or cloth covering me, so I wonder if this is just a one-sided treatment. My question is answered soon enough when she asks me to flip.

Bred in the Midwest, it is at this point that my fear of people seeing me naked and my fear of hurting someone’s feelings do battle. Yes, I realize that by taking on this thirty-day spa challenge, I should have expected a bit of exposed skin. But in the U.S., we at least carry on the façade of decorum by allowing the technician to fold sheets in various ways. In those situations, it is very easy for me to believe nobody can see my goods.

Timidly, I oblige her request and then the next, even scarier question comes to mind. Is she actually going to slather this stuff on my boobs? She can’t. I mean that’s kind of crossing the line, isn’t it? She’ll probably just work around them. Right?

“Excuse me, sorry,” she says kindly.

“It’s okay. Thank you.”

Wait! I just gave permission to and then thanked a woman for rubbing her hands over my bare breasts with a thick, yellow Javanese concoction. Not only that, but in just a few minutes I know that she’s going to have to return to the scene of the crime to wipe it all off. And not just with a gentle brushing, but with pressure. This stuff is goopy and dries like elementary school paste.

I decide once we are done, I will quietly file this away deep in my psyche where the other awkward moments live. There it can take its rightful place next to such scenarios as “The time the Vegas stripper from Cheetahs insisted I fondle her newly enhanced chest” and “The time the bikini waxer told me I was pretty down there.”

Before I know it, the masseuse moves onto the yogurt conditioner, which she also rubs across my chest. Then she escorts me to the shower to rinse off. I notice that the once-empty tub is now filled with water and a thick mat of red and pink flower petals. It’s pretty and strikes me as being very thoughtful, much like the woman herself has turned out to be.

After a cool shower, I submerge into the warm tub. The woman brings me a cup of water and tells me to take my time. As I lie back and let the buttery flower petals caress my skin, I decide that aside from the initial shock, this whole experience really hasn’t been half bad. Perhaps I’ll even do it again sometime. I mean, I’ve got twenty-eight more days to go.

Travel Betty Basics
Putri Bali II
(Jl. Seminyak near Supermarket Bintang)
Ambiance: 3.5 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Treatment: 4.5 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Cost: 100,000 rupiah (including tax)
What that means in U.S. Dollars: $10.90

Three (Almost Four) Massages In One Day. Oh My!
In order to keep myself from having to go to the spa every day while I’m in Bali (too much pressure for a vacation!), I’m allowing myself to double and triple up treatments when necessary. Just so long as I get thirty in by the end of my trip, I’ll consider this whole 30 days/30 spa treatments experiment a success.

So after all the poking and boob fondling of the first two days, I decide to give myself a much needed break on day three and instead, go sightseeing.

The next day however, it’s back to business. I catch a cab to Cozy, an out of the way day spa frequented by Aussie expats. It doesn’t look like much from the outside and it’s housed in the Indonesian version of a strip mall, but inside it’s all beauty business. The ground floor is airy and open and even features a juice bar.

Upstairs, however, I feel like I’m entering the Pleurisy Ward of Relaxation. Instead of individual rooms, it is just a series of floor to ceiling medicinal white curtains dividing up the beds. That’s fine though. I keep my eyes closed during treatments anyway.

Like the day before yesterday, I am instructed to change into the one-size-fits-most disposable underwear I will henceforth refer to as Tourist Panties. And luckily, unlike the first day, this trio of massages is executed with skill.

Today I’ve signed up for a 2-hour full body massage / head massage / foot massage. I can’t think of anything better than that.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Would you like breath massage?”

At first I think, “Wow, there’s more? Why not? I’m not sure what it is, but it sounds intriguing.”

Oh wait, no! No! Thank you, but NO, I will pass on the BREAST massage.

I gotta say, this whole breast thing is making me wonder. Would they consider it perverted if I said yes? Like a female happy finish? Or am I just a total prude? And by the way, this isn’t a rhetorical question. Feel free to clue me in here, Betties.

Travel Betty Basics
Jl. Sunset Blk A # 3, Kuta
Tel: 7472762, 7472763.
Ambiance: 3 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Treatments: 4 out of 5 Passion Fruits
Cost: 154,000 rupiah (including tax)
What that means in U.S. Dollars: $16.79


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