Saturday, May 16, 2009

From Puffins to Papayas

When I got laid off in February, never did I think that my most extravagant endeavors were immediately around the corner. Before Bali, I had been subsisting on Puffins cereal, oranges purchased in bulk from the Farmer’s Market and Trader Joe’s frozen gyoza, plus the occasional sympathy coffee from a loving friend. Gone were the days of pricey Mixt Green salads with my buddy Rick, sushi on a Tuesday night just because I felt like it, and my all time favorite cocktail from The Orbit Room: “The Exit Row.” (Dear Exit Row, I miss you. Love, Lauren) And other than the mani-pedi send-off present from my adorable friend Beaux, all self pampering was strictly off limits. It had to be.

Enter Bali and the 2009 $USD/$IDR exchange rate. With $1 US dollar equal to about $12,000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) and Indonesia generally being way less expensive that any city in the US, the mathematical outcome was: we got to eat sushi and get pedicures if we wanted. This is how it came to be that after our 100-degree Rice Paddy hike and a quick shower, Michelle took off boutique shopping and I made a beeline for a spa I had read about in my guidebook: Nur Spa.

Located on Hanoman St/Jin in downtown Ubud, this place feels like a Buddhist sanctuary. There are pretty stone statues scattered around the grounds, among beautifully tended gardens and royal-feeling relaxation huts. You can choose from more than 50 different treatments, including traditional Balinese cream baths, head massages and exciting ingredient body scrubs (like ginger!). To give you an idea of pricing, a 90-minute massage costs around $20. So long self depravation, hello Deep Healing Massage and Traditional Papaya Bath.

To adequately convey the true splendor of the massage and bath experience, I am first going to have to admit something: I’ve had a lot of massages. There. I said it. I know it’s not the most responsible use of income, but as it turns out, neither is investing in the stock market. So there.

That said, I know a good massage when I get one and this one was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The guy who massaged me must have had a sixth sense for knowing which body parts needed to go where and do what so as to make their owner immediately consider selling everything she owns and moving to Ubud just so she could come here every day. We weren’t five minutes into the massage before I had priced out the Craigslist value of all my belongings.

After what may have been the best 90 minutes of my life, I was escorted to a woman who would be in charge of my bath. I couldn’t believe there was MORE. The setup was gorgeous—a stone bathtub filled with all different kinds of Balinese flowers floating on top of the water (Frangipani, Jasmine, Bungan Kemoning, Hibiscus and others). After being thoroughly scrubbed with a papaya mixture and ladeled off with warm water from a bucket, I was left alone to hang out in the bath. (Whole truth: Had I not been broken in by Turkish bath ladies a few years ago, this naked scrubbing/bucket experience would have been a bit much).

Alone and sufficiently exfoliated, I stepped into the bath and sank down. Laying back, I lifted one foot a few inches out of the perfectly warm water. It was like an ad for the fancy nail salon that Beaux had taken me to! The toenail polish was the same color as one of the flowers and could not have looked prettier. I was in girlie girl heaven! I wished they had some music in there. I would have requested some Lilith Fair lesbian hits…just to take the “I’m a girl” experience to its limit.

For the next 30 minutes, I smelled and studied each and every type of flower, tried out all the different organic soap bars that were set up on the side, and forgot all about my old life of Trader Joe's frozen gyoza.

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