She was a small lady, weighing maybe a little over 90 lbs and I looked her over, lingering on her hands while wondering if she can handle the job she was hired for.
I was inside one of the “Whisper Zone” rooms of the Mandara Spa at the Palau Pacific Resort (PPR) to have a taste of the free Balinese massage offered by the spa director, and was greeted by this small Indonesian whom I mistook for a Filipina.
I wondered how she would have fared if a 300-pound Palauan customer comes in for a massage, and it’s not unusual to find one because most of the Palauans are huge.
“Welcome to Elilei Mandara Spa ma’am. I’m Marge, your masseuse for the evening. If you will kindly step this way and take off your clothes….” she recited in a halting English.
I stepped over to the next room where I took off all my clothes and was given a a disposable underwear and piece of printed “kukur” cloth (kukurtinahin) to wrap around my body.
Marge led me to an immaculate elevated bed and instructed to me lie face down where a pleasant aroma of herbs and incense wafted straight to my face. It smelled of warm woods, lush tropical foliage and aromatic oil permeating the air that I felt as if I were in a private garden.
Marge rubbed some sort of ointment all over my body and pressed my ankle. I was startled at the strength she possessed. The pressure of her hand was firm as she started to apply the Balinese massage, making stretching, long strokes from my feet up to my hands and to my back, kneading and rolling my skin, applying thumb pressure techniques that I felt I were a dough readied for baking but it felt heavenly.
One thing Marge didn’t know was that I had a very hard time trying not to jump up and run from the bed at the beginning. I didn’t tell her I was ticklish in almost all parts of my body. I tried to think of other things like deadlines and the elusive business man I have to interview for my business profile and the huge pile of laundry in my hamper in order not to divert my attention.
I won the battle and before long, I was already feeling relaxed as I gave in to the professional ministrations of Marge’s skilled hands, feeling my tension evaporate as I breathed in the tropical aromas.
I got the invitation to sample one of Mandara’s services from the Mandara Spa director at the PPR, Dharsana Matratanaya and I did not refuse the invitation because I have always been curious about it going to one before although I classified the word “spa” as an expensive luxury that is way beyond my budget.
“It’s not just about having a treatment, it’s a total experience that involves all of the senses,” says Matratanaya, who turned me over to Marge after our brief chat.
Maybe next time I will go for the the ultimate in massage treatments, the Mandara Massage which is a unique blend of five different massage styles – Japanese Shiatsu, Thai, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Swedish and Balinese to be done by two therapists working together in rhythmic harmony perform the spa’s signature treatment.
Yeah, maybe soon, and soon is I have no idea when unless I win the jackpot prize in the sweepstakes. But first I need to start buying tickets.