This is letter #2 from our traveling LMT, and intrepid gourmand…checkout that menu in her letter. Marybetts Sinclair, Corvallis LMT and Oregon School of Massage staff member, is teaching massage in Indonesia and Korea…and doing some adventuresome eating and throwing in some environmental observations. (You can find letter # 1 here )

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Hello Friends,
The above photo is from of one of my Jakarta classes. Below are some of my notes about receiving a massage during my trip…and comments about things catching my attention as I travel.

Massage Shopping in Sumatra
While teaching in Medan, Sumatra, I went to get a massage with spa owners Andy and Lidia, and Wulan, Fifi Lim’s general manager and translator. We went first to a new-age looking spa with soft music, essential oils, organic looking wood decorations, and a fairly standard but expensive menu, including a “V-treatment” which treats the vaginal area with smoke…I am not making this up.

We decided to go elsewhere, and ended up at a spa called The Phoenix, which offers traditional Chinese massage. The decor was completely peacock-themed, with large paintings of peacocks, a peacock couch made of shimmering white shell, peacock clothes hooks, peacock vases, etc. The hallways have beautiful colored tile floors (almost like Mexican tiles); it includes a small cafe with Chinese herb teas.

 

My Tuina Massage (Instead of Fire Therapy)
I choose the Tuina massage because I was sure I wouldn’t like to have the massage that has a blanket which is on fire as your top layer. Called “Fire Therapy” on the menu, I believe they put alcohol on the top layer and set it on fire. Client as Cherries Jubilee!! They say it has a flame resistant layer under the top layer, but just think of the potential for injury…again, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP EITHER.
The therapist was a middle-aged Chinese woman who spoke no Indonesian, but we managed to find someone who spoke English so she could ask me the 2 crucial questions for someone you give your first massage to-“how much pressure do you prefer?’ and “Do you hurt anywhere?” She tsk-tsked just as I would do at the tightness in one shoulder-its our univeral massage therapist language!

Tuina, the style she does, is vigorous, mildly painful, and is done through a cloth so no oil is used. So forget the soft lights, gentle touch and attention to your  pain level, get ready for some bodywork! Part way through the massage, she applied 16 large glass cups which suction onto your back-the sensation was very strong and not unlike sticking your hand in a vaccuum tube- and each cup left a bruise the diameter of a softball on my back within a short time. She carried on a lively conversation with another Chinese masseur and his client throughout the treatment, who were just on the other side of a curtain. I , however, being a massageophile, loved it all, and left feeling mildly sore, bruised, but very relaxed…

Massage Innovation Hall of Fame
I do note with amusement a new product, advertised in the Air Asia flight magazine, for the New Gintell G-Bravo Massage Chair. The headline reads “OH! MY BUTT” and the creative folks that make it claim it is truly a technology breakthrough with the V-shaped track that makes it the first massage chair to provide in depth massage to your buttocks, ” that was once impossible to reach”. The ad is made complete by endorsements from 2 famous Asian actors/TV stars, who are obviously photoshopped in together.. Lucky for MT’s that there actually is no substitute for the human hand and heart!

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And Now The Food
Indonesia has such an exotic variety of foods to choose from and such a long and interesting culinary
history. Since I have been here I have tried almost all of these foods:
-deep-fried cow lung
-exotic fruits including durian, mangosteen, dragon fruit, star fruit and leechee nut fruit
-ginger-chocolate peanut brittle
-chicken feet simmered in a secret sauce
-red squishy squares of cowskin, which have been deep-fried then simmered in hot red sauce
-many items made with rice powder, including a deep-fried  “chip” with peanuts embedded in it, and many pastries with this powder instead of flour
-fermented green sticky rice that smells just like baking yeast and can be kept for 2 or 3 days before it starts to turn to alcohol (sour taste)
-chicken heads, simmered until soft and then eaten as is: you crunch through the skull with your teeth and suck out the totally-tasty chicken brain inside (I did pass on this one)
-avocado and chocolate milk smoothie (here, avocado is a fruit)
-appetizer of battered and fried greens, served with a side of chili paste
-fish flavored crackers, prawn, shrimp or cuttlefish flavor
-small sections of chicken intestine skewered on a wooden stick
-a whole deep fried large fish, covered with a sweet palm sugar sauce and chunks of avocado, pineapple and papaya
-amazing drinks with shaved ice, coconut milk, fruit chunks and basil seeds on top, just one example.
-swallow nest soup  (Someone pointed out a building of very small rooms that evidently is used to house swallows so their nests can be collected easily, and while tubing on a stream through a cave in Samarang 2 weeks ago, someone else also pointed out a ladder down into the cave from a hole up above, where people climb down to harvest the nests.)

 

I worry About…
One last note: the pace of development and environmental destruction here, it turns out, is on a scale much greater than I could have appreciated until seeing this country for the third time. Capitalism, consumerism, inequality and lack of environmental protection are going hand-in-hand, and I find it beyond worrisome. Our perspective as Americans is far different, since we have already seen the cost of out own excesses in the regard, right at home..But here perhaps not. Three different people have told me that the temperature in their city is much hotter than it was 10
years ago. Partying while Rome burns? Just a thought…take care and stay well until I see you again.
With affection,
Marybetts
PS  In my last letter I mentioned the “Gorilla Massage.” Here I am with the therapist:
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