56 • Vacations
In northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai, being mellow
is first nature.
Wellness seekers tuck inside no-frills roadside massage
spas where there are plenty for cheap foot massages, but
the more alluring treatment on offer is the traditional Thai
A full-body workout, I sport loose fitting attire and lay
face down on a low-lying bed while the petite-framed
masseuse uses iron grips to pull my limbs into strange
yoga poses. Her powerful fingers press on every pressure
point. An arm kneads my back like a rolling pin.
Surprisingly, the after-effects are heavenly. Stretching
becomes easier, limbs looser. I can’t get enough of the
body-bending benefits and venture daily to an array
On another day after communing with rehabilitated
elephants as a
(elephant trainer), I choose a spa
hideaway by the Mae Ping River.
The spa therapist drapes me in a jasmine-infused garland
necklace and pours me a cup of herbal tea. She bathes
my feet in a bowl of warm water and milk as she exfoliates
using lavender salt before escorting me to a dimly lit room
scented with a calming lemongrass fragrance.
More spa rituals follow. Doused in mineral salts and
therapeutic melted chocolate, the treatment exfoliates my
skin’s surface. This royal pampering session, dubbed the
Lanna Ritual, is made complete when the therapist applies
ginseng oil – soothing my skin, as well as my soul.
It is time to mellow some more.
From traditional Thai
massages to herbal spa
treatments, get ready for
a royal pampering.
Health & Wellness
in Chiang Mai
By llona Kauremszky
THAI MASSAGE THERAPIST
POWERFUL FINGERS PRESS
ON EVERY PRESSURE POINT
MASSEUSE PULLS ON LIMBS
INTO STRANGE YOGA POSITIONS
Health & Wellness
Summer 2018 • 57
No expansive white spa lounge with
fruit-flavoured water greets me: here, the
simple room is lit by natural light from
a small window. I get undressed, the
therapist wrapping me in a cotton cloth
covering me from chest to mid-thigh.
Sitting on a small wooden stool, the
massage begins on my scalp. Her hands
drop, slowly massaging my muscles
in short strokes – the pressure of her
fingertips following the angles of my
body toward my heart. Her strokes are
slow and deliberate, releasing my stress
and slowing my heart beat, her focus not
only on my body, but my mind too.
With an Ayurvedic massage, the goal
is to harmonize body, mind and spirit.
To achieve this, the therapist combines
massage techniques to focus on my
body’s energy points, or meridians, with
the healing benefits of sesame oil with
sandalwood and jasmine.
I move to an unpadded wooden massage
table, the therapist focuses her energy
on my legs and hips, using her forearm
and elbow to gently connect my body’s
Gently pulling me into a sitting position,
I’m guided to a steam table with a cover,
where I’m tucked inside for 15 minutes,
my head is the only part of my body
not feeling the heat and worries about
being nude in front of a stranger are long
Although the luxe style of a western spa
treatment is missing, my mind and body
are stress-free and relaxed, revelling in
the calmness – a welcome after effect of
the simplicity of a Sri Lankan Ayurvedic
SRI LANKAN AYURVEDIC MASSAGE
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR AN
By Waheeda Harris
On the island nation of
Sri Lanka, Buddhist sites
and Asian elephants may
be bucket list fixations, but
visitors should add another
must-do to their list:
an Ayurvedic massage.