After I heard that the primary clientele at Sayana Rumdul was backpackers, I was a bit reluctant to touch anything. So too, it seemed, was my masseuse, who began the treatment with what felt like reluctant taps that meandered in a painfully confusing direction that left me – at first – wanting to scratch my head rather than relax. Perhaps it was my height, or my directness, that incited what felt like a slightly absurd vendetta against me.
I was there for an oil massage, which has become ubiquitous at spas here, perhaps because their owners are under the impression their staff require no training to pull them off.
Sayana Rumdul is in prime location for the tourist trade: near Top Banana, Flavors, Score Bar and god knows how many offices. The whole perimeter is chokkas with transient culture.
No penny had been spared on the spa’s entrance, and after crossing a very tropical bridge across a faux moat, I was greeted with a cold drink and cold towel by a manager who spoke English without understanding it.
Most of the clients came from the surrounding entertainment venues, she said, and on Sunday afternoon only one room was free. It had a very private “U” shape, preventing me from spying on patrons in other rooms. But upon entering it I suspected there might be an alternative motive for sending me into it; it had a kind of last-resort feel, as though it was reserved for people unlikely to tip or prone to squeal.
At first my masseuse was either timid or disinclined to knead my sweaty skin, but after applying oil to the back of my legs it was clear that she had found her groove – or had tapped into some kind of atavistic aggression. It may have felt good for her to vent, but it left me feeling confused: she was arguing in circles in all the wrong places.
I’m a fan of a vigorous, direct massage – and debate – but in this case I was grateful for the buffer of oil, which prevented my muscles from being pierce by hands that seemed to be moving in no coherent direction.
She did, however, manage to poke a few of my high-risk areas. With each press came a bad reaction, but she was easily corrected.
This is the beauty of a massage – particularly an oily one – in one way or another it always leaves one feeling good about oneself, like all accomplishments.
One hour was enough for me, but the spa offers the usual buffet of treatments, including fruit-based manicures and pedicures, body wraps, facials, scrubs, waxing and a wide array of packages.
I was able to keep track of the hour, thanks to the conveniently located wall clock above my head. I focused my attention on this, easily blocking out the neurotic-Enya-fluty-love-child-in-the-forest music that was playing in the background. After my brief oil attack I returned to work feeling somewhat refreshed.
Sayana Rumdul is located at No 01, Street 282 near Wat Lanka. Open seven days a week from 10am to 10pm, its brochure recommends that clients make reservations by calling 017 791 186 or 023 727 158.