What better way to end a day that began with a chocolate breakfast than to spend the night drinking Hanoi Lager ?
We knew you’d approve so we did, watching the World Cup with the locals as it rained and blew in Hanoi. The screen blew away but the ever resilient Hanoieans gripped onto the projector and threw the picture up onto an adjacent plant covered and balconied facade.
Dave and Helen were there, two extraordinary folks who work with the Aboriginal Community at Wadeye in the Northern Territory. They were raving about a massage they’d had that day so duly inspired the very next day off we toddled.
The cab from the Old Quarter (Phō Co) elided us along a boulevard with an extraordinary mosaic that went for miles. We pulled in at Huang Sen Spa at 74 Yien Phu, slapped our collective Dong onto the counter (300,000 VMD each for 75 minutes, about $17 AUD) and were led off individually, girls to the left and boys to the right.
In the boys quarter we were stripped, lockered our belongings and donned little black shorts. All of the staff interacted in mime, tapping you on the shoulder, smiling and pointing and moving about washing and scrubbing the tubs,
After a hot shower you are led to a half wine barrel type tub in which you squat up to the neck in something that seemed very much like cold tea.
After some time impersonating a tea bag you transition to a bath/jacuzzi and lie immersed in a tepid herbal concoction as the jets gently pummel and bubble. Onto the sauna where the customers sweat and sway, a final hot shower and one is led to a corridor filled with little rooms, each little room containing a massage table, towels, lotions, scented candles and all of the paraphernalia associated with the art.
In came Faba, the thirty something Maseuse, all clad in white. She began at my forehead and ended at the soles of my feet, kneading and pressing, palming and pulling, chopping and dicing, slapping and twisting, pushing and prodding, stroking and crimping. It was sensational.
I’m not a one for the New Age blarney but for about 40 minutes on that table you would have sworn I was a crystal card carrying devotee.
I swear to you, gently sceptical readers, I could feel my Chi energy flowing and surging like a river, all sorts of undreamt of elemental forces came into play and I came off the table relaxed and sprightly. Strode to the dressing room, discovered to my extreme delight that they had polished my dusty sand shoes and so out the front again where my gorgeous one sat glowing.
My experience was similar but different – still the Marcel Marceau instructions but no tubs of lukewarm tea. I don’t know about boys but girls certainly give you the once-over very clearly. Fortunately with my Hulot-esque bumblings and zaftig curves I provided much entertainment to the gathered throng.
Still the hot shower-volcanic sauna-icy cold shower tango, but no stylish black shorts for girls. I was handed the EXTRA LARGE bikini to put on. Most of it disintegrated in the process.
I was then given a plastic shopping basket and led up stairs to my beautiful white-clad masseuse. The room erupted into the usual hilarity and pointing with my entrance. Pretty much the same pummelling, squeezing, battering as Bill but with the feminine touch of being tossed in cucumber slices (no dressing please).
I then had hot-to-the-point-of-pain heated stones inserted under my shoulders. A sandpaper scrub down and some vigorous whacking and I was sent out the door. We were all old friends by now so the usual smiles, tittering and bowing ensued.
Dazed I got dressed and floated down the stairs, a little itchy from the sand papering and a little oily to be greeted by Bill and duck foetus soup. A girl can’t complain.
The DFS was quite delicious and filling.
And came with a refreshing cup of lemon tea, some juicy pineapple and a strange unidentifiable fruit that had the consistency of apple but the flavour of cucumber.
Now if we start quacking and molting you, dear readers, will know the reason why.