Friday, February 17, 2012

Travelogue Bangkok: Oasis Spa

If I were freaking rich, besides spending my money travelling the world, I would like to have my own spa. I won’t buy a custom-made ring from New York that will cost me millions (eh). I would rather spend it to have my own masseuse. My home will be a little oasis where I can enjoy and relax after a hard day shopping, something like this…

The moment I stepped in into Oasis Spa, my mind just go “Toing-toing! I want a home like this!”. Who could have guess there’s a little peaceful gem tucked away within the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city? A quiet, grassy garden greets you as soon as you walked into the main gate, and stood before it a handsome bungalow, with wood accent and clean white exterior. The building was build around a small pool, with chairs and umbrellas lining up along the side. Ah, if this were my home, I could just imagine myself eating cekodok and kopi-o at the pool area while waiting for Abang Anuar to come back from work.

I sat down, and the staff hurried in with a cold towel and a cup of scented tea. I wished I had taken the pictures of the reception area that was tastefully decorated with wooden floor, and bright, canary yellow cushions on the wooden bench chair. The colors are lively, but the whole effect was calm and soothing.

I decided to try, for the first time ever the Ayurveda treatment, which consists of two parts: first, the pouring of warm oil onto the forehead, followed by scalp massage; and second, Ayurveda body massage, using East Indian technique.

The warm-oil-on-forehead thing was okay; perhaps I had too much expectation heh. But the scalp massage that followed – OH MY GOD. And the body massage – NICE. Do I really have to return to KL? Can I just stay here?

The price is of course, OH MY GOD too, hahaha. The 2.5 hour treatment costs as much as something similar at the high-end spas in KL. Haishhh, see… this is why I have to work hard, in order to enjoy little luxury like this once in a while. Kalaulah dari kecil aku kumpul duit, mesti dah berjuta-juta dalam tabung. Hmmmm…

But then, if you are looking for the whole exquisite spa experience, the ultimate pampering and that queen-for-day feeling, go for it :p Sekali-sekala nak memanjakan diri, kan. Though I would say that this still can’t beat the massage, service and atmosphere at Khareyana Spa, my favorite spa in the Klang Valley - definitely the best, ever. And at a much cheaper price too. Malaysia Boleh!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Travelogue Bangkok: Health Land Spa and Massage

Bangkok is such the perfect city for a girfriends’ trip. The shopping opportunity is abound, from the street-side stalls and flea market to the high-end fashion that most of us could not afford anyway. My head almost explode in excitement when I discovered that the stretch of road that I was using everyday is practically [Bukit Bintang + Berjaya Times Square + Suria KLCC + Low Yatt + Pavillion], but, 5 times more populated with shopping malls. Arrghhh, restrain, restrain. Nasib baik my day was totally filled with conference program, so I only had the night for some quick shopping (But yeah, within that ‘not enough time to shop’ pun, I came back with a new skirt and three new dresses, all but one acquired from street stall. So cheap! And I brought back some home décor stuff too. Weeeeee….)

And it is a perfect place for a girlie trip because spa is everywhere. It is like Starbucks in the States – you have one in every corner. After a long day shopping, what a good way to recharge for a new round of shopping the next day other than foot reflexology. Or a back massage to relax those tired muscles from handling so many shopping bags, eh? An hour or two of back massage or foot reflexology will only set you back RM 10 – 40 only.

My friend recommended me to go to Health Land, because he said the place is proper (hehe, because massage parlor in Bangkok can be a bit special too), nice and cheap. It is indeed close to the conference area and the hotel, so I decided to check it out. It is pretty much a huge mansion with multiple levels of spa rooms (it even has elevator), and from the amount of people there, it looked like a very popular place. The reception area is as huge as any big hotel’s. Put down your choice of massage and paid for it first, and after a while your name will be called.

The staff I encountered there were very polite and nice. The massage room is nothing special in terms of the décor, but it is soothingly simple and spotless. I love the wooden and grayish color tone. There’s a small shower and a separate basin area.

I am not a fan of Thai massage – I tried it once in KL, and I hate it. I go to spa to relax and drift away in slumber, but with Thai massage, I spent the hour cringing and fully alert, afraid of what the masseuse going to do next. Ah, I always felt like she is about to snap off my neck any moment. Shudder…. So, I decided to go for the much gentler aromatherapy massage. The massage itself was okay. It was nothing spectacular - a really good one always made me feel as if I was melting away, the tension dissolved into nothingness, and I’ll feel so light, almost floating on the way home. None of that here (maybe it is just the masseuse that I got) but despite that, it served its purpose. The ache and knotted muscles did go away. It is definitely a good massage place, but with such cheap affordable price, don’t expect the ultimate spa experience. The one-and-a-half hour aromatherapy massage was less than RM 85. Foot reflexology is only RM 25 (an hour) and Thai massage about RM 45 for two hours.

I had a much, much outstanding spa experience the next day somewhere else (and paid much, much more too. See the correlation here? Weeeeeeeee!), but that one will be reviewed next. This entry is already too long, eh.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Travelogue Bangkok: Land of Smiles

We always prided our country has having the friendliest people. We sell the idea of warmth and hospitality to the tourists, as a draw for them to visit Malaysia. I do believe it is so, to some degree.

But man, I think the Thais beat us to it.

Take the conference itself. The national oil company of Thailand was the host of the event. By the end of the conference yesterday, everyone has only the highest compliment for them, calling them the ‘perfect host’. I’ve been to a couple of international and local conferences, but I’ve never been to one that takes pride in making the guests feel so comfortable and showcasing the best that they have to offer, especially the richness of their culture. It was nice that they also converted two small meeting rooms as the prayer room for the Muslims, and I did not see any pork served during the lunch as well (the other meat dishes are probably not halal as well, in terms of the slaughtering, so I eat the veggies or seafood only. But at least I am less squeamish if I did not see pork next to the vegetable lasagna, as example). If they were to host again soon, I will definitely come back even if I have to pay the conference fee myself, hehe.

Then of course, the ‘sawadeekap’ gesture, where you press the palm together in front of the chest. I absolutely adore that. Sometimes I will be the first to do so before the hotel staff or the shopkeepers, haha. That gesture, and the Korean bow (I watched Music Bank on KBS which is something like Muzik-Muzik, and find it so cute that all those modern, hip-looking artists - guys with eyeliners and perfectly coiffed hair and girls in short shorts and mini-skirts – bow to each other after the winner is announced) and the Muslim gesture of pressing the right palm on the chest, are so humbling and welcoming. I observed that the speakers, even the dignitaries, did these, towards the audience, before they took the stage. The younger staff will also do so when they approach the table where the more senior ones or their bosses were seated. Once, I got into an elevator with two high school kids, still in the uniform, and as they got off the escalator before me, they bowed to me before they walked out. I felt like an Empress!

I often heard how the King is revered, and it is only so evident once I am here They do think highly of the monarch. His huge portraits are everywhere – in the public park, shopping mall – and even the kids that participated in the science competition in the conference talked with so much respect of the King when I visited their booth display. Once, on my way back to the hotel after the conference, I wanted to take the BTS (the Skytrain, much like our LRT). I had only walked into the ticketing area when I realized something odd. Everyone was standing still. The guy in front of the ticket machine, the lady manning the booth, the guard at the turnstile, the passengers. Everyone. Did I just walk into a Twilight zone? Is this some sort of Inception movie thing? Or am I on Candid Camera? Then I heard some patriotic-sounding song over the speaker, which I assume was the national anthem of some sort. Ahhh, now it makes sense why everyone was frozen at their track. I wonder if KLCC played Negaraku in the middle of the busy lunch hour, will people stop whatever they were doing, stand straight up and stay still? Hehehe…

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello, Bangkok!

Sawadee ka!

Greetings from Bangkok. I've been here since a few days back because of this...

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I was a bit nervous because I was NOT nervous. I always had giant, ginormous butteflies-in-my-stomach before any public speaking - even when I gave career talk to school children way younger than me, or even for simple presentation in the office. And this was my first presentation to an international audience (What if they think I talk rubbish? What if they think my points are rather menial? What if I went blank or failed to form cohesive answer in English during the Q&A session? Arrghhhh...!). So, I was rather afraid that the lack of nervousness means I was not prepared, especially since that the final version of the speech was only completed the day before I was to leave for Bangkok, and on the morning of the panel session, I was actually up at 5 AM to start preparing the slides. Yes, START. Haha.

The speech has now been safely delivered, and everything went very smooth, so thank God for Your blessing. So now I can thoroughly enjoy shopping around Bangkok... eh, the rest of the conference.

Till later, xoxo!