Friday morning saw mum, Vi and I getting an all-girls day at the spa, leaving behind the ol dad, the hubby and the kids. Mum's treat. She'd booked us a package at the Tea Tree Spa on Batam which included ferry rides to and from Batam, one massage and one scrub all for S$100 each.
Waterfront City was nothing much to speak of - it looked deserted and run-down. Apart from the Holiday Inn resort where the spa was, there was nothing else to do or see in the vicinity. The resort itself was nothing spectacular - looked like any condominium in Malaysia.
But we did not come to admire the resort.
It was 11am by the time we arrived so we had an early lunch before heading for our spa treat. The food at the cafe was awful. There's no other way to say it. Bleah. Pricey in Singapore dollars but just absolutely not worth it. The only decent thing was the keropok on the table!
But we did not come to taste-test the food either.
Over at the spa, set like a Balinese complex, we met the very nice manager Desi. The package covered one massage (choose either the Balinese or the Javanese - mum and I both immediately said "the softer one!!" and chose the Javanese) and one scrub (I opted for the tumeric scrub while Vi went for the avocado). Vi piled on the extras - she had enough stuff to last for 4hours in the spa. Mum, being circumspect as usual, just added one pedicure. I added a luxury rose milk bath and a mandi kepala (hair spa).
Because Vi's list of treatments now looked longer than the Olympic flame route, she was whisked off immediately. Mum and I, having more time to spare, hit the steam room and the jacuzzi. The steam room looked and sounded like some Nazi torture chamber - dimly lit, tiled from ceiling to floor, everytime the steam hit, it was accompanied by a massive groaning of the pipes behind the walls and a slow drip-drip of condensation from the ceiling and the walls. Very spooky atmospheric if you like that sort of thing. Mum, clearly more expert at all this than me, sat back, closed her eyes and let herself be cooked. I, as usual had too busy a brain, kept trying to peer through the foggy steam, wondering about the mechanism etc. It was not as punishingly hot as I thought it would be, but I just could not relax in that room.
I was more at ease in the jacuzzi. Set in an outdoor bale, we soaked ourselves in the bubbly until our therapists came to get us. Mine was called Heny with the Magic Hands. She led me to the treatment room. And gosh, when I saw it I thought - this is how I want a birth centre to be!! This is how it should look and feel - like a posh Balinese spa. We stepped through wooden doors in a wall and came to an open room, facing a small outdoor garden. A bathtub sat in one corner. In the raised room area, there were low treatment beds, armchairs, an ensuite shower and toilet and vanity. A ceiling fan whirred under the thatched pitch roof.
Okay, I have to admit here that I was a wee bit uncomfortable when Heny chirped: Now take off all your clothes and wear this towel. Disposable panties are over here. Gulp. Mum later said I was a bit goondu for heavens sake - after five births and being a birth educator and now I'm feeling icky about stripping down in a spa??
But strip I obediently did. Then what, the busy mind asked again. Do I keep my eyes open? Closed? Half open? Look at the fan? Heny, oblivious to my awkwardness just kept slathering on the scrub and gosh really scrubbing hard! After a while, the busy brain shut itself up and gave over to the feeling of having every last ounce of skin scrubbed out. The dead skin had no chance.
Scrub over, it was time for the luxury milk bath. Mum, Vi and I had an amiable argument about this earlier. Mum, disapproving of any excess said: "So wasted! Bathe in milk! People drink milk for heavens sake and now you just want to bathe in it??" Vi went: "Why not? Cleopatra did!" As usual, I wavered: I suppose mum is right - kinda decadent to bathe in MILK! Rose milk - I guess I'll smell like bandung after that! So I did let the manager know that I decided to change this to a simple floral bath (to which mum had to say: "Har?? Isn't it better to save this sort of bath to share with your husband instead? Like all those
But nonetheless, confronted by the bubbles in the bathtub, I suppose the manager must have forgotten about my change in request because Heny indicated a dish of powder and petals and said, as I stepped gingerly into the tub, "Milk bath yes?" and scattered the contents into the bath! Milk powder!! And the busy brain wondered: Nespray or what brand??
Still it was nice soaking in the tub. I noticed that Heny had scrubbed with such strength that my chest, boobs and upper arms were all red and spotty. To add to the experience, Heny brought me a long ice-cool drink of kunyit-assam (tumeric-tamarind). Gorgeously refreshing and said to be slimming too (so I bought extra packets for home - haha! In case you're wondering, I did check the ingredient list and it had nothing manufactured in it - just extracts of rhizome and ginger! Safe for breastfeeding!).
After the bath, came a quick shower, change of disposables and then it was time to lie face down and get pummelled. Javanese massage, I found, comprised of long slow deep pressure strokes which was really soothing. Lying face down in the massage bed, my face in the circular opening, I breathed in the fumes from a bowl of water scented with essential oil, with sticks of cinnamon floating in it. Nice touch I thought. The massage was so good I think I actually fell asleep.
Massage over it was time for the hair spa. Geez, I really felt like I was sitting in the lap of luxury. My hair covered in a thick avocado masque, under a steamer, listening to just soft piano spa muzak and the occasional bird call from the trees - it was so peaceful.
When everything was over, I took a quick shower and went back to the spa reception area where I found mum, sitting comfortably there and chatting with the manager. She had bought several packets of the ginger tea and the kunyit assam. I did the same - they were lovely.
The day ended soon because we had to take the last ferry at 4.30pm back to Singapore. Vi and mum dozed while I plugged into my music player and watched the islands and ships bob past in the 1.5hr journey back to Singapore. Waiting outside Customs and Immigration at Harbourfront was KH and Gillian. He had called earlier from the bowling alley where he had picked Gillian up, offering to pick us up. But because the timing was off, I'd told him to go home and not pick us up. But there he was - so it was a nice surprise. Vi's eyebrows went up and she whispered: Why is he suddenly being so nice hmm? What did you do to him? He's been quite sweet lately.
Haha - I don't know. But I'm not complaining!
To top everything off, he willingly and patiently bore the evening rush hour city traffic to bring us all to Marutama at Central. Even when the queue seemed to stretch for more than half an hour, he did not complain. So we had a very agreeable dinner.
And I, had a very agreeable day out.