“Self-Care Sunday” (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Self-Care Sunday

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – November 13, 2018

After a wonderful breakfast and some thrift-shopping at a super trendy artist-lounge in the heart of expat country (D2), we decided to rid our minds of the Sunday Scaries by pampering ourselves at a famous Korean Spa, “Golden Lotus Spa World”. We walked down an obscure, enchanted alley where banyan tree tentacles and lanterns hung all around us. The walls were muraled with sweet little street-scenes and colorful depictions of Vietnamese culture. At check-in, elegant ladies gave us three tiny towels along with a set of yellow cotton pajamas to wear around the facility. Local families made funny looking hats (like doughnut-shaped ears) out of their towels. We were having a spa-day in Star Wars, surrounded by hundreds of Princess Leias.

Feeling like Orange Is The New Black in our jailbird pajamas, we tiptoed upstairs, excited to see what the spa had in store for us.

We started in a negative-ion sauna that had red mineral-mud walls and wooden beams, sweet herbal smells, and wooden blocks on the floor to rest our heads. Next, we cooled off in an igloo-ice-room, where fragile ice crystals grew on the frozen piping system and sheets of marble held in the cold. Our third stop was an infrared sauna where bundles of curled cinnamon bark released spiced aromas as they cooked on the walls. Here we stretched and worked up a sweat before moving to an oxygen-therapy chamber (basically a sleeping-room because everyone in there was out cold). I was excited to catch some zzz’s, but the surround-sound-snoring wasn’t working for my picky-sleeper preferences. Asians can literally sleep anywhere. You see them fast asleep, sprawling atop their motorbikes, balancing with their feet on the handlebars—I don’t get it.

Surrounded by thick leaves and Plumeria trees, we soaked our feet in a hot outdoor footbath. We chilled and chatted in four different color therapy rooms, where we left Yellow like, —“Okay, that’s enough soaking up self-esteem for me for the day!” and Indigo like, “My intuition has grown too strong!” There were designated sleeping rooms for men and women, meditation pods, a “family cinema” a “kid’s TV cubby,” where kids could literally climb through tunnels in the wall to enter their little lair, and heavy logs in the main hall where some people stretched, read or watched movies on their phones. At this spa, people relaxed, ate, drank, caught up with their friends, sweated out their weekend, and rejuvenated their bodies with all the amazing saunas… it was the ultimate relaxation package ALL IN ONE!

I read the “health benefits” plaque on every room before I entered, so I could focus my mind on the healing (or placebo-effect of healing) in each room. Maybe it’s a bunch of bologna—but I eat that shit up; and I have to say, I’ve slept like a baby, had more energy, and felt more overall happiness ever since. The Mineral Mud-Room had the following benefits: Mineral mud is a natural product of the Earth’s biological degradation of organic substances that takes place over 40,000 years. The chemical composition of the mud contains sulfates, phosphates, iron and sulfur minerals that interact with the steam, heat, herbs, negative ions and infrared rays to help detoxify, burn fat, rejuvenate cells, reduce muscle and bone aches, improve sleep and increase productivity of the brain. Sounds pretty good to me!

The Himalayan Rock Salt Room was almost too hot for comfort. Cubes of rose-colored rock were laid like bricks around the heat source, giving the room a warm flickering glow. The benefits included: Under high temperatures, minerals in rock salt help to reduce fatigue, anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, allergies, migraines, colds, asthma and lung disease. Rock salt helps strengthen the immune system, supports the activities of the heart, and regulates the adrenal gland (responsible for sex and stress hormones). The light cast off the pink rock helps with mental stability and stress reduction. It improves the body’s PH, thus smoothing and clearing up the skin, treating skin-related diseases, and increasing dermal elasticity.

Of all the saunas we tried (we were in this place for nearly 5 hours!!), the Volcanic Ball Room was my favorite. This room was filled with tiny beads of Volcanic rock, that kind of looked like cat-food at first glance, but felt like we were in a 5 Gum commercial. People dug their bodies deep into the ball-pit, allowing the effects of acupressure (pressure to stimulate, disperse and balance the flow of energy) to take place. Acupressure helps the body eliminate toxins, excrete waste, purge heavy metals, guard against air pollution, enhance metabolism, boost overall immunity, and relax muscles and blood vessels to improve blood circulation. Rare-earth chemicals, found within the balls, also released antioxidants, which help increase natural healing and delay the aging process.

For our last activity, we decided to be brave and enter the plunging-pools full of naked ladies. At first we were shy about getting naked, but then we figured, when else would we ever get to do this?! Clothing optional was suddenly, “No clothing allowed.” We stripped down and ran to the first pool, frantically covering our naked bodies. After being around a bunch of other unclothed people for a while, it somehow becomes comfortable. You realize your confidence and stop caring who sees because no one else cares! All bodies are NOT created equal. We all have blemishes, imperfect areas, funny nipples, strange scars, and awkward proportions… but somehow it’s all beautifully human. The only thing that makes us “the same” is our differences.


Alena Netia Horowitz | Miss Potato

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