My family and I are on vacation in Bali, and our second stop after a few nights in Seminyak was Nusa Dua. It’s got that gated community resort feel that makes a person feel like she’s finally reached that level of success to the point where she is willing to buy things at original price. Oh look, they insist on carrying your bags for you! I could get used to this pampering. But my peasant brain refuses to be blinded by the opulence and keeps asking if I really need to shell out a precious dollar to tip the bellboy. It’s just a dollar, I argue. That’s milk money to you! They’ll appreciate the gesture! But it’s not required, says country mouse. And who knows when I’ll need this dollar. What if I want to buy a surfboard magnet with a 3-color gradient and “Bali” in cursive? I decide to keep the dollar and flash a big smile of gratitude instead. Cheapskate, mutter the palm trees behind me.

Now, the whole point of coming to Bali, other than taking advantage of the incredibly cheap taxis, is to get a massage for half the price one would expect in America or Singapore. The expensive ones are already a good deal, like what the resorts provide, but country mouse asks why bother with paying a lot for a beautiful view when my face will be wedged into a cushioned child size toilet seat anyhow. Plus, I’m no massage enthusiast, I know my massages like I know my sushi; they’re all just fish to me.

The front desk gave me a pamphlet for the hotel spa, as well as one for a spa in Nusa Dua, Tanjung Spa. He made sure to write his name at the top and that should we book, to do it through him. On our way back to our room to ponder, the rental car counter waved us over and the guy gave his own two cents on spas to enjoy. He suggested Toya and Baliwis. What I’m getting here is that people receive a commission for referrals. I looked up all of the spas on TripAdvisor, which I an entirely too reliant on, and there weren’t too many reviews for any of them. Toya was almost impossible to find, Baliwis hardly any, Tanjung was ok. But, TripAdvisor fanatic that I am (I really should leave reviews on that site, it’s only fair after how much I’ve relied on it for my traveling happiness) I decided to go with the popular and well-rated Boutique Spa Sekar Jagat. I emailed them and followed up with a phone call since we wanted a same day appointment in the evening. We had no issues with booking my family of 4 at 5:30. A car would come to pick us up then, part of the service, and overall a popular thing to do in Nusa Dua.

The driver came at 5:30, and we had about a 15 minute drive from Melia Bali to the spa. The spa is located on the street, but the building is pushed slightly inward with a small garden area in the front so the traffic noise isn’t blaring in your ear. We were greeted with big smiles by the girls and seated at a table to wait. They served warm ginger tea and since we had already chosen the Balinese massage for $35/90 min (Internet/phone call rate) we didn’t need to peruse the catalog again. We waited for at least 15 minutes, which was strange since there was absolutely no other customers there. Perhaps they were prepping the rooms. We were lead to another part of the building, further away from the street, into a dimly lit main room with doors to the massage rooms along the sides. My sister and I went into one room while my parents went into another double room. You can choose to be alone, if you’re anal or paranoid about dressing down to your skivvies in front of your friends and family.

They put our bags in a shallow basket to set to the side, and handed us what looked like mesh shower caps with leg holes. We were to strip, bras off, keep underwear on. Then I knocked on the door with the sheet wrapped around me to let them know we were ready.

Now, I had been hoping to doze off or at least close my eyes and let my mind wander while my body was treated like a glob of dough. Not so. About 10 minutes in, I spied a mosquito flitting around within my eyesight. I suspected the jar of still water under my face topped with aromatic flowers as a breeding ground for these devils. I couldn’t use my hands to wave them off, since they were strategically placed at my sides, so I had to resort to doing Superman breaths and blowing the pesky buggers away every so often. I couldn’t even take deep whale breaths, since I’d ruin the peaceful ambience with my death rattle. So long peaceful massage.

If you are ridiculously ticklish, or private to the point where the only other being to see you in your birthday suit is your reflection before you shower, then massages are not for you. I’m slightly ticklish and had to hold in my share of giggles and laughs. I’ve gotten used to baring it all in front of strangers from using the gyms in Korea where people walk around the lockers starkers. You’ll be baring your chest, as well as butt cheeks. Stomach too. That’s about as invasive as it’ll go though, so if you’re fine with that then you’re set.

I had a good time overall, they didn’t skimp on the 90 minutes. I liked when they used oil, felt smooth and relaxing. No idea if it was fantastic, I didn’t feel super mellowed out or anything, but my sister and parents said they enjoyed it, so sounds like a win. There was a bit of traffic sounds bleeding through, but nothing extreme, certainly not to the point of annoyance. I’d say this spa was worth the $35. You can tip if you want, not expected, entirely up to you. They accept USD as well, which was convenient for us. They gave us a ride back to our hotel, and that was that! Altogether a successful spa day and an excellent way to round off our stay in Nusa Dua.

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