The Garden Spa, Bishan

SpaAs a keen spa enthusiast, I was surprised to find out that my older sister, a modern cosmopolitan working mother in Singapore, had never been to a spa or a massage! This is so unacceptable … and I felt that it was my personal mission to let her experience the wonders of what a spa can do to one’s mind, body and soul!

I decided to buy a spa package as a birthday treat for her at the Aramsa Spa – The Garden Spa located at Bishan Park. As this was a surprise gift for her, I called her one week earlier to ensure she allocated 3 hours of her time for me.

The Aramsa Spa – The Garden Spa was opened in August 2006 and it was billed as Asia’s first outdoor spa in a park featuring more than 22,000 plants from 200 species. This 7,500 sqm (cluster of eleven low-level buildings) has twelve treatment rooms that include massages, body treatments and facials, a wellness studio, corporate events room and outdoor courtyards, organic health cafe and a retail outlet.

GardenOn the day of her birthday, she was driven to the spa by me. We arrived at the spa 15 minutes before our booking slot. At the spa reception, there were 4 staff sitting at the reception table. The decor of the spa is rustic yet modern but the reception area was really small for such a large and busy spa! One of the receptionists showed us to the common bathrooms to change and asked us to wait at the lounge for our therapists.

Shortly, two therapists came to us and led us to the treatment room. As this is the first time my sister was experiencing a spa treatment, I opted for an individual treatment room so that she could be at ease. We could hear the birds chirping as we walked through the pebble footpaths to our treatment rooms.

The massage treatment room is of a good size with a single seater sofa in a corner. The outdoor rain shower and sunken bath are in the open greenery area. Aida, my therapist, introduced herself and led me to the sofa to soak my foot in a hot water that has been filled with mineral salts.

Spa BathShe carefully dried my feet and led me to the treatment bed. I started off with a body scrub. In between the scrub, the therapist asked me if her scrubbing technique was acceptable, which was very nice of her. To my astonishment, she was so attentive that she even scrubbed my belly button! When she finished the scrub, she turned on the shower, ensured the water was at the right temperature before leading me to cleanse myself.

While I was having my shower, she quickly cleaned up the treatment bed and got ready for my massage. The massage was one of the signature massage for this spa…. The Aramsa Touch Massage.

I guess most spa will come out with fancy names for their massage treatment and this is no different. The Touch Massage is nothing more that a Shiatsu massage with some aromatherapy techniques thrown in. Oh well…

After the treatment, we were ushered to the lounge for some tea and cookies and to relax. I asked my sister about her first spa experience and her only word was “shiok”; a local expression for an extremely exhilarating and wonderful experience. The hot lemon grass tea with pandan leaf (a tropical fragrant plant) and honey at the lounge was unique and certainly a plus.

I am glad my sister like her first massage experience and had left the spa feeling recharged & radiant. One more happy spa and massage member! Time to give myself a pat on the back for adding another die-hard spa and massage fan!

Location of Spa: Bishan Park, Central Singapore
Size of Spa: Twelve private treatment rooms, wellness studio, organic health cafe and a retail outlet.

Friendliness: Friendly masseurs.
Facilities: Private Shower in Room. Lounge,
Wellness studio
Pricing: Special UOB promotion of S$88 for scrub and massage. Normal spa prices for other packages.
Transport: Central, Singapore. Free Parking at Bishan Park.

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Apple iPhone and Spa and Massage

Apple iPhoneWhat has the Apple iPhone to do with a spa and massage blog? None really… except that I just gotten myself an Apple iPhone and I am so proud of it and want to tell the whole world about it!

The iPhone is amazing in functionality, ease of use and features. I am still amazed by it’s touch sensitive screen, the super intuitive user menu and powerful software even after one week of non-stop use. Not only is it a mobile smart-phone, it is also an iPod, a web browser, an email client and a micro-computer all rolled into one small hand-held device.

If you are looking into a new mobile phone, make sure you do not get anything else before you’ve at least tried out an Apple iPhone! It may be a little bit more expensive but heck …, it’s really, really worth it!

For those of you who already own an Apple iPhone or iPod, here’s a recommended website where you can download even more songs, movies, software and utilities for your iPod or iPhone. For anyone who just want to know more or are just curious about iPods and iPhones, you can visit this website.

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A fishy spa!

Doctor fishYou are probably used to a spa and massage by a human therapist. Have you ever had a spa and massage rendered by a fish…or to be exact, hundreds of fishes??

There is a very new kind of spa, which originated from Turkey, where a kind of fresh water fish, commonly known as a doctor fish, will feed on the affected and dead areas of the human skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow.

The doctor fish is also known as nibble fish, kangal fish or doctorfishen. There are actually two species of the doctor fish and they are known scientifically as Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus.

This is a popular skin disease treatment method that is said to originate from Turkey and has now become popular in Asia and where many fish spas has sprung up in the last 2-3 years including Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Singapore.

You basically sit around a small pond and dip your legs into the pond with several other people. In a matter of seconds, these fishes would visit your legs and start chewing at your dead skin. Most initial reactions ranged from ticklish to some who complain of some pain especially when the fish ‘bites’.

Many people, especially ladies, who do not have skin disease, are visiting these fish spa too as they claim that their skin become smoother and cleaner after each fish spa session.

In Singapore, you’ll pay an average of US$22 for a half-hour ‘chewing session’ by these fishes. Will you pay this kind of money to have your feet chewed by fishes? Have you ever wonder what ‘diseased skin’ these fishes has been chewing on before they visit your legs?

Check out the ‘fishy video’ below!

Pix credit: http://www.nibbles.com.sg

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Affordable massage at Bintan, Indonesia

Clear blue water off the Kelong Restaurant at Bintan IslandBintan Island is the perfect getaway from busy Singapore if you want to take a quick break fast, cheaply and economically. Just 45 minutes by fast ferry from Singapore, you go from the hustle and bustle of a busy city to the peace and quiet of a blue water and clear sand tropical island.

However, landing in one of the hotel resort in Bintan Island can be expensive, as they have pegged all prices to Singapore dollars at Singapore cost of living! While you may physically be in Bintan, Indonesia, you are paying Singapore equivalent price for a meal, for a beer or even for a massage as long as you are within the premises of the hotel!

Here’s a tip for all massage enthusiasts to Bintan who wants to save some money. If you are prepared to forgo the luxury settings of a hotel spa and yet enjoy the nimble fingers of Indonesian massage ladies, go off the Bintan Hotels and head to the villages and towns!

If you are in the Bintan Hotel Resorts, take a 10 minutes shuttle bus and go to Pasar Oleh Oleh. In this small village just off Bintan Resorts, you will find shops, grocery stores, restaurants, hair salons and massage salons at local prices.

Tanjung UbanAlternatively, if you have more time, take a taxi (S$50) for 4 and go to the nearest town at Tanjung Ubad and enjoy old town Indonesian charm.

Here, you can find traditional Indonesian delicacies in local food stalls, local markets that offer fresh seafood to bring home, DVD shops offering the latest DVD discs and various local massage palors that will provide quality tourist massage services at local prices. Try out the popular Indonesian Massage or the Indonesia Coconut cream wash where coconut cream is used to both massage and wash your hair!

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Celebrating Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year FirecrackersChinese New Year is celebrated on 7 and 8 February 2008 by Chinese all over the world. CNY is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and Chinese families all over the world will celebrate by making efforts to sit down together for a Reunion Dinner on CNY eve as much as the Western world make an effort for a homecoming dinner on Christmas Day.

Most shops, restaurants and certainly spas will be closed on the first 3 days of CNY which can be celebrated for as long as 15 days amongst the most traditional of Chinese. We wish all our Chinese friends a Happy Chinese New Year or ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ and may our Western friends join in the Chinese New Year festivities as much as the Chinese do.

For more information about the tradition and culture of Chinese New Year, please visit this Chinese culture website. In the meantime, enjoy this amazing Chinese Lion Dance show performed by one of the world’s Champion Lion Dance troupe held in a recent competition in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.

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