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Limping and Dripping Oil in Ella

After the hike of Adam’s Peak, we took the train to Ella. It was one of the most beautiful train rides of my life — close to three hours through nothing but tea plantations. During the trip, I decided to read the Lonely Planet sections about tea and found an interesting box about Sir Thomas Lipton known for Lipton tea. I had always assumed Lipton’s was an American brand of tea I could buy for a few bucks if I was in a drug store like Rite Aid or CVS. Well turns out, Sir Lipton purchased tea plantations in Sri Lanka because he wanted to bypass wholesalers. He grew his family chain of grocery stores to over 300 in the UK making sure he had a market to sell his tea to and we all know how much the Brits love their cuppa. So that Lipton’s you may be sipping is from a land far, far away.

Chloe and I arrived in Ella in the evening and were looking forward to a few days of rest in the tea country and to taking some nice hikes in the area. But this never happened because when we woke up the next morning, we were both so incredibly sore from hiking Adam’s Peak that going up and down stairs became an excruciating task that must have amused anyone who saw us hobbling around like old, old ladies. So since hiking was out of the question, we decided to treat ourselves to an Ayurvedic spa treatment. Lonely Planet said, “Don’t miss the incessant bliss of shiro dhara (hot-oil head massage). You’ll soon be ready to hit the road once again.” It sounded perfect. Exactly what we both needed to recover. Except it turned out to be one of the worst decisions I ever made…

…Okay I’m being a bit dramatic, but not by much. We settled on Suwamadura Spa, recommended by both our guest house owner and Lonely Planet. Since I had had such a positive first spa experience in Indonesia, I was excited to try something new. What is Ayurveda? Well, glad you asked. Lonely Planet told me “Ayurveda (eye-your-veda) is an ancient system of medicine using herbs, oils, metals and animal products to heal and rejuvenate.” Since my legs were killing me, this all sounded lovely. We made appointments for two-hour treatments.

We started off with massages. This was the first sign that my lady must have been new. It was a pretty bad massage and it involved some strange hitting of the back and head and tugging on hair. After this I experienced the aforementioned shiro dhara. It was strange. I lay on a table and cold oil was poured on my forehead (Chloe’s oil was warm). This really didn’t do much for me and all of the oil crept into my hair. Next I was enclosed in what looked like a Medieval torture chamber that was a steam/sauna and only your head stuck out of the wooden box. This was actually O.K. As Chloe and I limped into town, we looked scary — hair completely soaked with oil that smelled a bit like an herbal curry. That night I washed my hair three times to no avail. The oil stuck with us for the next four days and did absolutely nothing for our hair. The worst part of this? Somehow the Lonely Planet fell out of my bag at the spa. We needed it for the phone numbers/addresses of our hotels. So Chloe called the spa and they said it wasn’t there. The next day on our way out of town, we stopped by and I went in and searched the place and we couldn’t find it. Then one of the employees magically produced it…and that will be the last time I step into an Ayurvedic spa center. But, Chloe and I got some good laughs out of the whole thing. Basically any time we looked at each other, we couldn’t help but start snickering at how ridiculous we looked.

Thankfully, we spent the next few days at a beach paradise…more to come.

Where to Stay: Sita’s Heaven (077 615 7030) is a nice guest house with a great view of Little Adam’s Peak (see photo above).

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Think yourself lucky – when I had my first (and only) Ayurvedic massage in Kerala (India), I had to strip naked and place a towel the size of a face cloth over my bits, then lie on the table. The masseur oiled me up and massaged me very nicely (and very professionally), until at one point he turned me over and removed the towel, placed it over a chair, and proceed to masage my buttocks. That didn’t bother me (as I’d been told to expect that by several tourists I’d met). But, when he gave me back the towel and I put it back on me for some more massaging, I could feel something small under the towel, crawling over my, ahem, personal places. I assumed it was a little ant or tiny bug, and quietly tried to remove it while my unsuspecting masseur continued on my neck and shoulders. Suddenly, I felt an incredible pain right on the end of my little fella, and shot upright, screaming. The masseur, horrified, ran to the corner of the room. The bowl of hot oil crashed to the floor. And I threw off the towel to see an enormous ant with its pincers right in the end of my love lollipop. My screams had attracted the attention of the receptionist (and several other customers), who all opened the door to find a scared little Indian man in the corner, oil all over the floor, and a greased-up naked English guy punching himself in the crotch and swearing. I finally managed to kill the ant and remove its fearsome mandibles from my now-rather-sorry-looking trouser-snake, calm down, and explain myself, but the massage finished soon after. Was yours that bad? I don’t think so.

    October 28, 2012
    • Unless I hear any other stories, you win for worst Ayurvedic treatment.

      October 29, 2012

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