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So, I’ve realised that one of the things that helps when I’m blue is really superficial (which is ironically one of the criticism of the paper I presented according to the wicked witch, oooh maybe I really am a superficial person. Only, I’m not) is a spa day. It is obviously a very elitist solution to the problem of feeling like you have no self worth, and actually I can think of a direct chick lit reference.

In Bergdoff Blondes [spoiler alert], the lead character is totes depressed after her famous boyfriend publicly humiliates her (oh my, I am seeing parallels, though thankfully I wasn’t dating wicked witch), her friends keep telling her to go to a therapist, and she refuses. Finally, her best friend just books her and she’s so tired she goes, and then in the waiting room, she notices everyone else there is so beautiful, until finally she realises, she’s not at a psychologist’s but at a skin clinic. She has this amazing facial, while also venting a tad to the “therapist” and emerges radiant and glowing, her self confidence restored.

And I think that’s what happens to me. Though it’s not like I come out looking amazing or something, but that the process itself soothes me. Which is exactly what they say on the ads, and at least in my case, it does work like that.

So I definitely wanted to a massage (and possibly more) in Indonesia, and had I gone to Bali, I would have done it there, but since I was stuck in Surabaya, I decided it definitely had to be on the agenda. I would have done it in the hotel I was staying at because the prices were tres reasonable, but a fellow student on our hotel whatsapp messaged to say not to do it at the hotel unless we wanted something “special” and then a girl also mentioned something funny at the hotel massage though infuriatingly they wouldn’t say what, so I decided to just go upscale.

After some frantic googling, I decided on the Martha Tilaar spa at the historic Mahapahit Hotel. This is a bit like going to the Peninsula in Hong Kong or the Taj in Mumbai but paying Nalini and Yasmin prices. The hotel is housed in a former women’s prison, and has that very old world feel. The spa is run by a well-known local spa operator, Martha Tilaar, which going by my experience I would recommend if you’re traveling to Indonesia.


So, I went in, clicked a few photos of the hotel, and entered the spa, which is done in dark wood tones, possibly Indonesian style if there is such a thing that can be generalised to the country of many islands. I booked for a massage but ended up choosing a two-hour “mangosteen” (what? I had to choose a local fruit) package. I was led to my spa room which had a shower area, steam facility, and bath. The therapy started with a scrub, using I assume mangosteens. I rarely get a scrub because if I have to choose between a scrub and a massage (and I usually do), I prefer having oil rubbed on me rather than something rough, but if you can do both (which happily I could in this case), I’d recommend the scrub because exfoliation and you come out feeling so clean.  Then, I was asked to shower, and then steam. The steam is interesting – rather than going to a steam room, you get zipped into this canvas bag and you just sit there in your own private steam bag with your head poking out, until you’re unzipped. Then, glorious massage, then body mask (!) and then finally bath. A comment on the massage – the woman used her elbows in what I think is a traditional technique, and normally I find this very uncomfortable, but this time it was totally effective, especially on my shoulders which tend to be tensed.

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I came out feeling almost new (despite vestigal throwback to the debacle of the recent past), hopped into a cab and went back to the hotel and took a nap. And after that, I felt so much better overall.

In the evening, I had dinner with a young teacher in our department. I had told her about the debacle and we talked some more about it. Why I feel the need to talk about my failures to other people is something I’ve been thinking about. For me, it’s an unburdening, part of the recovery process. At some level, I want people to say pat pat pat, it’s not that bad (though they have to give good reasons, otherewise I tend to argue with them). But on another level, I need to share it as a part of who I am. If you didn’t read the comments on the previous post, I discuss a bit the hows and whys of my openness about negative stuff in my life.

Another way I recover is my just vegging out. So I totally neglected the academic reading material on my bedside table (it was too painful to think about), and watched episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians (while I was watching which, I came across this piece) and some local variant called It Take Gutz to be a Guiterez, about a Filipino family. Seriously, it is so elevating for the soul to immerse oneself in complete nonsense (oh dear, am I proving the wicked witch’s point? And why am I not feeling guilty?). If I had had chick lit, I would have read that, but unfortunately I didn’t, so I had to content myself with mindless telly, and I have to say, it helped.