This one was a bit mental. A proper Sri Lankan Ayurvedic job.
For those of you that have backpacked, you know how tight the muscles can get in your neck, shoulders and back. We’d spent most of the day on the bumpy bus from Sigiriya to Kandy and we were really feeling it. We headed for an Ayurvedic pharmacy that we saw on the street in Kandy but this was just a shop dedicated to selling oils for the massage, and a big one at that. The lady that we talked to gave us a card for a good massage place and to our delight we discovered it was right outside where we were staying.
We managed to find this place with some difficulty as it wasn’t signposted and we had to climb a steep little staircase and it was just at the top. The masseur, Adji, said for 2500 Sri Lankan rupees (about £12.50) we could have a full body massage and a steam bath and that it would take about an hour and a half. Brilliant, we’ll take it.
I said I’d take the steam bath first whilst Soph had the massage. It was not what I was expecting at all. A coffin shaped contraption with a cooking stove at the bottom. You climb in naked and lie on top of the slats above the cooking stove with a pot of water on it. The lid comes down and you’re completely covered except for your head which lies on a wooden board projecting out from the slats, your neck comes through a mouse hole shaped opening in the ‘coffin’, a towel is draped over the top and to your neck so that no steam comes out. You are just a head. Then you sit there for an hour. Steamed. Drifting in and out of consciousness, letting thoughts float through your head and evaporate like the steam that envelops you. Adji’s head occasionally pops round the corner: “good? Hot yeah?.” Every time I reply: “Yeah, good. Hot.”
Afterwards and a little disorientated it’s my time for the massage, Adji gives me a towel and told me to take my underwear off (I’d attempted to keep them on after the steam) and lie on the table. It was just a table as well. The actual massage was amazing, he knew exactly where my problem muscles were and worked on everything from my feet to my head. With just a little towel to keep my dignity and that didn’t work too well either, if you’re thinking of doing this then you’ll have to be happy with a complete stranger seeing you naked and possibly trying to massage your private parts! If you’re happy with dealing with those two situations then I’d thoroughly recommend this. The cream that they used was so nice that we bought a pot.
Soph was a prune when I had finished my massage and to my delight Adji suggested that I get back in the coffin. It was really nice to get in there actually. After we were both done, we drank herbal tea made from an Indian plant and an Ayurvedic doctor came to give us a free ‘lecture’ – was the word they used.
That was actually very interesting. We met Upul who was said doctor, he took our pulses straight away at our wrists and temples and then led us into the other room. Turned to me and said genetically I was made from the sun/fire element. He described my characteristics really accurately including my fiery temper which fades after 5 seconds or so, that I like to sing and dance, I like to achieve things quickly, some of my family have curly hair (my mum), the fact that I often have disturbing dreams. I don’t know the ins and outs of this science – their words – but after no discussion he told me all of those characteristics that I have just from taking my pulse.
Soph is apparently made from the element water and he accurately described that she hates confrontation, although she can be direct, that she has vivid dreams, and many more.
3 hours later we walked down the steep staircase a little beaten and disorientated and in need of some comfort food and some sugary tea.
So that was our most mental massage yet but I’m glad we had the experience. If you would like it too the address is 4/1/1 AA Dharmasena mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka.