I do love a bit of pampering and try to have regular massages, so whilst travelling I like to continue to indulge myself, dipping into the local way of doing things.  I have tried Thai Massage in Thailand and had my body stretched and manipulated in ways I never thought possible. I have reclined in a shack on a heavenly beach in Cuba whilst a smiley man spent more time than necessary in the breast region and I have even had an Indian Head Massage in India that left me with a few bruises. But I surrender to these experiences. Below are the two spa days that will be imprinted on my brain forever.

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Tunisian Hammam

I had been working in Turkey over the summer so had actually got accustomed to a regular visit to the local Turkish Baths. I had got used to the overzealous massage as my wet body rolled around and I would occasionally see images of my head splitting open all over the beautiful marble floor. I even started going minus my bikini top as I became a regular, as it was what the locals did, so surely I knew what to expect I was the master of a Turkish bath.

So now living in Tunisia and with a not so sunny day off in store I decided to treat myself at the hotel spa, I wandered down in my flip flops, opted for the hammam plus the addition of the full body clay mask, my skin would be glowing!

It started well, the place was on a much smaller scale than I was used to and I was surprisingly the only tourist (I was about to discover why!). Steamed and trying to relax over the chitter chatter of the other ladies it was time for my clay mask. Once my face mask was applied my masseuse turned me around and continued down my body and without warning whipped off my bikini top, oh, okay, that will be my breasts, it is all ladies and everyone else has them out so it is fine, I can adapt.

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Back into the steam room where all seats are already occupied I am positioned in front of the steam basin, which my masseuse proceeds to throw a bucket of water into. At this moment I am grateful for the clay mask, as I may have lost a few layers of skin without it. So there I am standing, taking in the minty aromas, excited to see my perfect skin afterwards. And then I start to feel a bit lightheaded, I have no idea how long I have been here, it feels like forever. I will be fine; surely I will be escorted out any minute now. Suddenly I feel faint, and it clearly shows through my clay shield, as room is swiftly made available for me on the bench and someone shouts for assistance.

I am whisked out to the wash room where buckets of ice cold water are thrown all over me, face first, puddles of mud covering the grey marble. No fear of fainting now, although still very lightheaded I am then ushered to the shower. I am turned to face the now gathering crowd who have appeared to observe my recovery. My body is fiercely battered to remove all traces of clay and then just when I think the end is nigh, my bikini bottoms are whipped off from behind and there I am, starkers, like the ending of a theatrical show with my happily cackling observers.

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Indian Ayurvedic Massage

Working in Goa now and with another day off to fill my partner and I decide to give this ancient practice a try. We opted for the full works, not really knowing what that entailed but, why not. We were separated and escorted upstairs by same sex therapists. I was told to undress and giving a pair of small translucent paper pants, I had been for bikini wax’s in the past so I knew the drill.

I lay on my front as instructed and relaxed to the soothing music. My therapist came back in and started the massage, there was oil, lots and lots of oil, but the massage was very good so I tried not to think of myself flying off the wooden table. Once the back of my body was manipulated like play dough I was assisted to turn, clearly she also had a fear of me flying off the table. I was then moved up the bed and my head placed in a wooded basin, a hot liquid was poured onto my head and I imagined I resembled a human waterfall. It felt very odd but I closed my eyes and tried to go with it.

The shoulder massage was rather amazing, releasing all the pent-up tension, bliss. When the fingers moved down I was prepared for the bare breasted massage, I had been here before, and I can cope with it. There was quite a few unnecessary nipple rubs that made me start to question if a happy ending was on the cards? Grateful when she moved on, I relaxed again and enjoyed the rest of the massage. With a now fully saturated and oily head and body, I was assisted towards what I can only describe as a sweat box, a wooden chamber that was attached to a stove. There was a rather uncomfortable seat inside and I could feel the steam warming my body. This could be nice. Then suddenly a wooden casing appeared around my head, oh my god I am going to be strangled, is this some sort of guillotine? The therapist smiled, oblivious to my fear, secured the locks and walked out of the room. I tried to reassure myself out of claustrophobia by being grateful that I least I could not go far if I were to faint.

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Freedom finally came and I was allowed to dress, place my greasy wet hair in a bobble and escorted downstairs. The look on my partners face was one of trauma. In the room next to me he had undergone the same fiasco, the sweat box, the tiny pants which, well, were clearly not made to fit a man. He also had the added humiliation of being assisted into the pants by his therapist who was rather intrigued by his manhood.

We paid our dues and shared our shame together. We tried to see the funny side in it all but agreed never to return.

And yet in spite of these stories; and the many others there was not room to share, including the masseuse in Morocco who was constantly eyeing up my man and telling him she liked young men, I shall continue to indulge. Like everything else in travel, spa days are an insight into the culture, so I take it for what it is and go in fully understanding that I may come out feeling tranquil or thinking, what just happened?

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Do you have any interesting spa memories? Go on make me feel better, share them with me 🙂

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