The evening before my departure from Phnom Penh, after presentation of initial evaluation findings to the client, I got me a tuktuk and hied off to Bliss. I read in the Net that this is a premier local spa and it has a branch in Phuket. If I can have Phuket in Phnom Penh, why shouldn’t I go? My body was crying out for a good rub down after weeks of heightened activity and travel around the provinces. The contract provisions were almost done and successfully too considering the odds. I checked the spa address with the hotel front desk and the guy said the listed one is correct (it can be that the published address is the old one). But apparently the tuktuk driver didn’t know Bliss or something because we had to drive by the neighborhood – a residential and commercial area – more than twice, each time slower than the first, to locate it. And each time I had to call the Bliss front desk that I was in the area but can’t seem to find them. Obviously there was no communication between us because we located the spa by ourselves. The place, of French colonial architecture, is tucked between an upper middle class street bar and a café and because its front is abuzz with expats, at that time inspecting a bicycle, its signage is blocked off from street view.
Inside, it’s the coziest thing. Its lighting is the sort that makes everyone and everything in there glow. I expected a spa right away, as soon as I got in. But, before you are cossetted into the interior where the spa is, your senses are first called to revel in the boutique store which displays cotton and silk sheaths and paraphernalia in all the possible permutations of warm summery colors and artsy prints. Each shirt, skirt, and dress is a unique design. On the other side of the dress shop are the same burst of warm prints but on home accessories. It was a great effort to pry away my eyes from the sight.
The landing up the spa is of cobblestones and white-washed walls. Walking up this felt like you’re being led out of the city into another place, like an island. But of course it’s just an island of a spa bed you’re led into.
I got me the whole works – body massage, hair spa, and facial. But no matter how physically tired I was I didn’t drop off to sleep. I never do in these places, no matter how cozy and homey the place is. It got the girl worried, thinking I wasn’t satisfied with how she did the deep tissue thing. As if to bring home her point, we heard a soft female snore from one of the other rooms. I assured her that the cog was with me, not her. She then left me a good half hour to rest. I didn’t of course, mentally, that is. I went through my notes in my head and thought about how I’d structure my report, the synthesis of the findings, what to put where in the report. By the time the girl came back, I had finished the report, ahead of the written one. It buoyed me up considerably that I gave the girl a sizeable tip. It surprised her, “but madam my massage didn’t put you to sleep.” Again, I assured her.
On my way out, at the boutique, I couldn’t resist picking up a few things. I couldn’t just walk away from beauty, can I?