Are You a Massage Lover?

There are two different types of people: the massage lovers and the others. I belong to the first group and admit having tried almost every kind of massage one might have heard of…yes, wherever my wanderlust bug took me I thrived to indulge in my favorite pastime.

While the “Razzie award” belongs to the Inca massage in Agua Calientes, Peru (it triggered pain in my neck i.e. Brufen was my best friend for quite a few days ), some of the best experiences were in :

Siem Reap, Cambodia – 25 February 2003 : advertised as “massage by blinds”, all the employees in this center were professionally trained visually impaired masseurs and masseuses.

Sri Lanka : Ayurveda treatments

Spice Gardens in Matala, Sri Lanka – 24 February 2004

and the star of them all, the Shirodhara – oil dripping technique 27 March 2017


29 March 2017


-Bali – 22 August 2012 : yummy treat(ments) i.e. coffee scrubs, chocolate massages…

Maldives – 10 July 2012 : the outdoor picture perfect spectacular setting

Shanghai, China – 4/5 September 2011 : relieved me from a chronic back pain in only one session…like magic!

Chiang Mai, Thailand – 15 November 2007 : Sleep inducing reflexology

– Chiang Mai, Thailand – November 2007 : the 2-hour body massage felt like seconds

Bagan, Myanmar9 February 2005: Room-reflexology


Madagascar: much needed pampering between hikes

Reserva Forestal Los Santos, Costa Rica – 22 March 2018 : excellent “surround sound system” reaching us from the surrounding rainforest…chirping birds, cascading waterfall… live, no CD.

However, the one treatment that left me with the strongest impact was closer to home…Yes, here in Abu Dhabi where I enjoy an established yet dynamic routine.

Honestly, I went to the spa at the Emirates Palace out of curiosity…understandably, it’s the most luxurious spa I’ve ever been to. I suspected the tag price to be associated with the lavishness, the splendor of the surroundings.



I found out it wasn’t exactly true: the treatment was above my expectations…pure bliss is a cliché! Words fail me… I can’t describe the burst of emotions I never knew existed and caused my eyes to well up with tears towards the end of the treatment, once I felt, inch by inch, a warm blanket descending on my back before being left there and covering me like a warm cocoon.


Heroin! It’s like heroin! Yes, well suddenly this particular article came to my mind…I read it twelve years ago in a Glamour UK issue while visiting my daughter Sara in Beirut. It was the addiction journal of a teenager who revealed that the first time she tried heroin it felt like she was being enveloped in a warm blanket. I still remember that I thought then and there why wouldn’t she simply envelope herself in a warm blanket instead of letting herself be sucked into the downhill spiral that could have cost her her life?! Strange how our memory works.


Anyway, back outside sipping on my minted tea in the relaxing area, a smooth transition before exiting the enchanting “realms of the senses”, I inquired about the “heroin effect ” treatment.  They don’t have it on the menu, it was bespoke! They came up with it when I asked for a “brain teaser” : a relaxing and energizing treatment.

Still under the spell, I left the premises with the feeling that the treatment I just experienced could really lead to a habit, a guilt free and harmless habit.

Weren’t Meant To Be, Definitely..

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// Part 7 of 7 //

There are three cities I wish I had visited earlier. The multiple missed opportunities might be my only source of regret…

-Cold War Berlin. Summer 88, Samih suggested it but I had to suggest London and Amsterdam …and of course the wifey won. Honestly, how could I have predicted that two years later Berlin would be a different Berlin, a Berlin where Checkpoint Charlie was a tourist attraction.

-Hong Kong under the British flag. This time I wasn’t taken back by surprise.

Since the Handover agreement was signed in 1984, I have known that the British rule over its last colony in China will end in 1997, and chose it as the Eid getaway for winter 96.

However, the required two weeks visa-processing period made it impossible to get our visas on time before Eid so we ended up going to Bangkok instead! Still, we could have gone during the summer holiday, but for some reason, while up strolling on the terrace of a stupa in Bangkok, I felt alienated in these exotic surroundings and longed to be in Europe. Six months later, we toured Germany- clock road & romantic road – and I missed my last chance to witness this chapter of the British history…

-Palmyra…I think my dear parents and my dear husband should bear the guilt trip: despite many childhood visits to Syria and a later one 17 years ago, Palmyra’s proximity to our homeland was the “opponents’ ” trump card in the recurring battle of wills linked to each trip.. Their “we’ll go another time” turned my objections to mute mode, always…

Again, I could have joined my friends when they explored Syria but I thought I would rather take the kids, which we did, 5 years later. Damascus, Aleppo but not Palmyra…sacro-saint “we’ll do it another time”.

These trips weren’t meant to be, definitely!

Checkpoint Charlie  – 5 June 2016            Berlin Wall – 3 June 2016