Slathered with seaweed, bent like a pretzel or pounded to a pulp, Dave and I have had our fair share of unique spa treatments.
While we’ve also had our fill of luxurious treatments from deep tissue, hot stone massages and even acupuncture and bamboo therapies, it is the crazy, zany and downright wacky spa treatments that have stayed with us. We always have a good laugh when we bring up some of our zaniest spa memories, so we thought we’d share a few of those moments with you today.
Enjoy our selection of the wackiest spa treatments from our travels around the world.
Hot Cupping in Yangzhou, China
Many of you are probably saying, “What’s so wacky about hot cupping. Gweneth Paltrow swears by it? But we say, you haven’t had a proper hot cupping treatment until you’ve done it in China. I’ve gone to a few places since. You know, the tame kind of hot cupping where they’ve put a couple of hot cups on my back for a few minutes. But in China, they put approximately 40 bamboo cups on our backs and left us for 20 minutes as they worked their magic.
The hot cups sucked at our skin, pinching our backs and making me feel downright claustrophobic. It felt like my entire torso was being squeezed tight and I had to calm breath and myself down while she was plopping them on my skin at break neck speeds. Dave watched the entire thing first and filmed it before getting his own treatment. As he stated, “it would have been better to go first because watching was downright frightening.”
Check out: Tops Tips to Staying Healthy Abroad
Seaweed bath in Ireland
It’s an old Irish tradition to sit in a tub filled with seaweed scooped out of the North Atlantic coast. And while driving the Wild Atlantic Way, Dave and I had to give it a try. Dave wasn’t too keen on it and said, “I normally try to avoid touching seaweed while swimming, so bathing in it doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But I say, “When in Rome…err Ireland. It's difficult to explain what it's all about, so we'll just let our video do the talking.
Hammam in Morocco
Have you ever heard of a Hammam? If not, a Hammam is probably one of the most unique and wacky massages you will ever take. It starts in a steaming hot room where everyone is naked and you can barely see a foot in front of your face. Someone then comes to get you and leads you out of the steam to a marble slab where they proceed to scrub and bend your body as they see fit. Before now, you never knew you could be contortionist, but you can! As Dave said “I thought he was going to break my back at one point, but he was bigger than me, so I went with it!” Oh, I forgot to mention that it all starts off with a body scrub that takes away at least three layers of skin! Sound like fun? Get yourself to Morocco and try a Hammam.
Want to know more about a Hammam, see How to Survive your First Hammam
The Turkish Bath was very similar to the Hammam except the Turkish Bath began in a dry sauna rather than the steam room and it ended with a cold plunge pool. All the in between moments were pretty much the same. We were scrubbed down and massaged on a marble slab in the middle of a large domed room where we were bent and prodded. It was just as strange and uncomfortable, but if you go with the flow, you can really enjoy it. Heat, scrub, massage on a slippery slab, lots of soap and oil….Oh yeah.
Ayurvedic Massage in India
It was in Alleppy that we heard of one of the best Ayurvedic Massage centres in India. We didn't plan on having a massage, but it seemed to be the thing that everyone was doing, so we thought we should give it a try. Both Dave and I had therapists that didn’t speak a lick of English so we just let them do as they please. Dave’s guy wrapped him up snug as a bug in a tiny little loincloth and began the session. Mine gal slathered me in oil and seemed to think that my breasts must have been very tense as kept kneading them like mad. I’m not sure if this is a thing in these types of massages, but I have gone on to have several massages that focus on the upper front of my body in Asia and the Middle East. Dave seemed to have a similar experience as while we were walking home oozing in oil, Dave said, “I didn’t know whether to tip him or buy him dinner”
Read more about it at our Ayurvedic Massage in Alleppey
Salt Cave in Canada
This one just seemed wacky to us both. And yet, we’ve been in at least two other salt caves since! The stones crunched beneath our feet as we walked into a cold room to sit huddled up under a blanket for 45 minutes. They told us that 45 minutes in the salt cave was as detoxifying as going on a cleanse for two weeks. But all Dave could think was, “is this a place for a massage or a place to store my wine?” Anyway, we sat in the cave staring at the twinkling lights. I think they were trying to integrate a bit of light therapy into our session as well. I couldn't really get into the relaxing vibe because I was just too darn cold. Aren't spas supposed to be cozy and warm? I live in Canada if I want cool, I can just go outside in the middle of January.
See what we thought of the Iceland Blue Lagoon
Mud Bath in Vietnam
We were in Vietnam years ago, but this spa treatment really sticks out in our minds. We had been through Thailand and Laos by this point and had many a Thai massage that bent our bodies in ways we didn’t know possible, but by the time we got to the mud baths in Vietnam, we were ready for something new. So, when we had the opportunity to soak in ooey gooey mud we did it. We walked into the pits of hot mud and poured it over our heads and rubbed it into our face. We lathered it in our hair and massaged each others backs with mud. We really didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We just kept walking from one pool to another where we proceeded to pour as much mud over our heads as possible. Once we were thoroughly covered in mud, we sat in the sun, let it dry and then washed it off. That’s it. The end.
Dead Sea of Jordan
People flock from around the world to enjoy the healing waters of the Dead Sea, and Dave and I were no exception. We couldn’t wait to jump in the warm waters and slather ourselves with black mud. But the instant we jumped in, the salt burnt our sensitive skin. Ouch! That hurts. I couldn't wait to get out and shower with fresh water. The burning was almost unbearable. After a quick rinse I tried again and it hurt just as much. Maybe the Dead Sea mud would soothe away the pain. So we diligently slathered black mud all over each other, and as it quickly dried, it hurt even more. This Dead Sea spa sure is painful! But being the stubborn mules that we are, we decided to keep the mud on for as long as we could stand it.
Reflexology in Penang, Malaysia
Did you ever see the Amazing Race a few years back where one of the challenges was to sit and have their feet massaged? When you saw them wincing and squirming did you think they were a complete wusses? Well, we have experienced that exact massage in Penang Malaysia and it was the most excruciating experience ever. Every pressure point he hit on my foot was agony. I writhed and grimaced and warned Dave of the pain he was about to feel. When it was finally Dave’s turn, I expecting him to scream. But something strange happened. Instead, he sat calmly while the reflexologist worked his magic. Part way through the treatment the therapist looked at me and said “You need to be more like Dave, he’s relaxed. You're so tense it's making you sick. He’s calm and healthy.” So that was it!
In my defense, I was very ill at that time with Graves Disease and extreme hyperthyroid. My doctor even advised Dave and I not to travel to Asia because of my health. Miraculously, my disorder disappeared during our 7 months in Asia and when I returned home, my doctor told me I had gone into remission and the chances of that were only 4%. Maybe that therapist in Penang cured me!
Ion Foot Bath in Nepal
After a few months in Asia walking around dirty streets in flip-flops, your feet can become quite nasty. It was after our trek to Everest Base Camp that Dave and I said, enough is enough, we must fix our feet. But Dave drew the line at a pedicure and instead was talked into an Ion footbath. They said this would take all the toxins out of your body. You will be able to see Black Death come out in the water. It turned black all right. It quickly turned a darker and darker form of yellow with scary looking black bubbles forming above the water. – Whoa Dave! You are toxic.
We didn’t believe it though, maybe it's just the chemicals in the water that make it go black for everyone. That was until a young girl sat down beside Dave and ordered a footbath of her own. After a few minutes we checked to see how black her water went. It was nearly clear with just a hint of yellow and no bubbles. I guess they weren't tricking us. The ion foot bath showed us just how toxic our bodies had become. As Dave said though, It's not me, it's Asia, the continent has made me toxic.”
Fish Spa – Greece
It took us forever to give the fish spa a try. Having little critters gnaw at our dead skin isn't the most pleasant thought on earth. But while in Santorini, we gave it a try and you know what? We loved it. Our feet take a beating when traveling and these fish went directly to our cracked heels and dry toes. We felt silky smooth after this treatment. The fish tickle your toes, but otherwise feel quite relaxing. They say that they clean the water regularly and that its clean and safe, but what do we know? We're just a couple of idiot travelers that will try anything once!
So those are our wackiest spa experiences from around the world. Some are wackier than others, some are downright silly and some are oh so soothing. Would we do any of them again? You bet! The wackier the better. Give us memories to take home and talk about and we’ll give it a try, no matter how uncomfortable or strange it may seem, bring it on baby.
What's your strangest spa experience?