Roo and I were enjoying unrivaled luxury in our private villa in the Sunway Lagoon and Resort, Malaysia. Her family had invested a sizeable chunk of cash in pampering us on our honeymoon, to the extent that we had our own infinity-edge pool, dinner served for us on our balcony and a private butler on call 24 hours a day. How the other half live, eh! As habitual backpackers we were thrilled not to have to share a dorm room with ten snoring, farting, travelling piss-heads. This was, quite literally, another world.
So, hot on the heel of our first massage came the excitement of the second. Our package specified two and our private butler was eager to help arrange it.
“Second massage… is in your villa, is… in bath, like ah… Roman Bath.” Her English was broken and heavily accented, but still the words were enough to send a chill down my spine. Roman baths brought only one thing to mind. “The girls come ah… eleven O clock, to your villa?”
Back at the villa, Roo was seriously uneasy. “Aren’t the Romans famous for having orgies? In the baths?”
Yes, yes they were. But I didn’t say that, because the aim of the holiday was to relax.
I couldn’t help but wander into our bathroom and stare at the tub, huge and sunken into the marble-tiled floor. How the hell were they going to massage us in the bath? Kneeling on the tiles? With sponges on long sticks?
“What if they want to get in there with us?” Roo asked.
There wasn’t much of an answer to that. Not on our honeymoon, anyway.
Roo didn’t sleep that night. She was too afraid. Next morning, after breakfast, we got the call – two girls from the spa were on their way to our villa. They had an hour set aside to prepare the bathroom… We spent this time trying to remain calm in the lounge, watching old movies on a channel called ‘Star’.
“I’m keeping my swimsuit ON,” Roo was adamant. “If they tell me to take it off, I’m not doing it. I’ll leave.”
“It’ll be fine love, we’re probably stressing for nothing.”
But I didn’t know how it could be fine. I’d taken certain lengths, before the last massage, to ensure that I couldn’t get an embarrassing erection in the middle of it. Even so, I’d only just gotten through – it’s hard, sometimes, being a guy. We’re not exactly in control of all our appendages… If I ended up four in a bath with my wife and two semi-naked massage-ladies… well, let’s just say there was bound to be a development.
“What if they want us one at a time,” Roo asked. “I don’t want to go in there on my own!”
They girls had been in their for an hour now, in their robes and sandals, running water and chattering about something. Oh God… it was time.
“We, ah… ready for you now,” one of the girls said. She lingered by the bathroom door, beckoning.
Roo and I shuffled forwards, hugging our loose robes around us.
“Okay, thank-you!” The masseur beamed at me, and at Roo, shouldered her bag of supplies, and left. Her friend followed her out.
“But… what…? Are they gone?”
“Check, please,” Roo begged me. Perhaps they were waiting around the corner, giving us privacy to allow us to strip off. That had happened at the last massage. Hell, maybe they were around the corner stripping off themselves! (That had NOT happened at the last massage…)
But no. They were gone. Disappeared down the path to the spa with impressive speed, given their size. Roo and I were alone. Stressed to the point of sweating into our silken dressing gowns. As one we approached the bathroom, still half afraid there was someone waiting in there for us. This is what we saw:
It was beautiful. Luxurious, inviting and hot as hell – placing the rose petals had obviously taken most of the girls’ time while the tub was filling. I dipped a toe in and a delicate fragrance was released from the water. It rose on the steam, filling the bathroom with the scent of exotic flowers…
It was then that I realized. This wasn’t a Roman Bath.
It was an Aromatherapy Bath.
Somewhere, lost in translation, was the truth that would have set us free from a night of sleeplessness and a morning on the borders of panic.
So I now know of four types of massage it is possible to arrange in Asia:
- The Comfortable One (which is bliss, but with a high likelihood of causing Accidental Arousal. Which can then become Uncomfortable)
- The Uncomfortable One (where they break you into little pieces, stamp on those pieces and then sweep them up into a pile that is vaguely you-shaped. This is the one with the longest-lasting effect, except for possibly:
- The Illegal One (which is a bit unsanitary, could leave you with a present you’ll be needing the doctor’s help to get rid of, and nine times out of ten turns out to be conducted by a man in a dress)
- The One That Isn’t A Massage – it’s a bath. Which they run for you. And fill with petals that get lodged between your bum cheeks so that you’re still finding them in the shower days later…
The joys of travel eh? Come on then – massage stories, front and centre! Got anything to add to my list?