I got one of my cousins to take me to her favorite local spa in Saigon to see if it would be any better than my other experience. It was a true spa facility in that it was dedicated to massage treatments, unlike the other facility which was primarily a hair salon. Therefore it had proper massage tables with head rests that allowed you to breath face down. Its steam room wasn’t as steamy as the other place but it at least had a faint herbal fragrance. Based on my limited experience it seems like VN spas have yet to grasp the concept of aromatherapy. They don’t understand how much scent and smell can enhance an experience. I guess no smell is better than the garbage and exhaust fumes that one typically smells. My cousin and I chose a 60 minute orange body scrub and a 60 minute full body massage. The orange scrub didn’t smell particularly orangey. It had a subtle medicinal smell that was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. I’ve never gotten a body scrub before so I don’t know what it normally entails, but I found the whole experience a little unsettling. They give you these paper-thin disposable underwear and have you climb onto a cot and lay practically naked while a therapist pours oil into every nook and cranny and works a salt scrub over your entire body. I’m not a huge fan of nakedness, especially my own, so I was self-conscious about climbing naked onto a cot next to my naked cousin and then having a therapist scrub my breasts, navel area and buttocks while other staff members drifted in and out of the room. It might have been in my head, but I felt like my therapist spent an inordinate amount of time scrubbing my belly, of which I’m especially embarrassed. It’s never recovered from my pregnancies. I see other hot moms rocking bikinis after popping out a kid or two and I just don’t get it. My belly is a wrinkled mess, jiggling ponderously above an unsightly caesarean scar. My bikini days expired long ago with my twenties. I imagined that the therapist was morbidly fascinated with my stomach, manipulating the loose skin with her fingers, rubbing circles in the soft folds of flesh and thinking to herself, “Oh my God, is this going to happen to me?” I wanted to tell her, “Let’s move on, shall we? Nothing to see here!” The sensation of someone who’s not my husband rubbing my breasts and inner thighs, dangerously close to my crotch, was uncomfortable, to say the least. For the massage portion, a girl who looked to be about half my age climbed onto the massage table with me and worked my back, stepping on parts of my body. You know you’re old when you start using phrases like “half my age.”
The massage itself was probably comparable to my last one, but since the facilities were better this time around I had a better experience overall. Better, but not perfect. The bathrooms and showers were dirty with residue from prior treatments. When a 2 hour spa treatment costs US$10, I guess you can’t ask for much more.