Saturday 25 May 2019

The rough before the smooth

I paid for my own travel to last week's TRENZ conference in Rotorua. Last year they flew me down to Dunedin FOC but, since Rotorua is less than a 4-hour drive from Auckland, they laid on a coach from the airport instead. Getting to and from the airport would have cost me more than taking a coach from Auckland Central right into Rotorua, I discovered, so I opted to go by Skip Bus. What a revelation: it cost just $24 return, standard fare, and the bus, far from being the backpacker-level transport I expected, was just your regular, comfortable, long-distance coach, that left on time, had free WiFi, and was super-efficient. Amazing value. Recommended! 

So, anyway, to get some more immediate payback than I'll achieve from my more general begging around the exhibition halls, I arranged to stay an extra night and do some stuff. Said stuff was a zipline outing with Rotorua Canopy Tours in the morning, followed by a treatment at the Polynesian Spa. Excitement followed by relaxation, was the selling-point. Made sense. And it would probably have worked, had I been a more touchy-feely type. Not a big fan of the massage, I have to say. I've had plenty, most of them free, and the only ones I've actually enjoyed and felt beneficial were one delivered by a former sports masseur at Uluru, and the medicinal ones I went to back home after dislocating my shoulder in Norfolk.

All the others were mainly just intensive moisturising sessions, really. A couple made me feel uneasy. Many were physically uncomfortable, and not in a beneficial way. One left me with bruises. This one? It started fine, the usual fluffy robe, hushed lounge, herbal teas. The Spa is right by the lake, surrounded by steam from pools fed by two geothermal springs. There are 28 pools, all different temperatures, some acidic, some alkaline. What I should have done was go for a wallow before the treatment, but there wasn't time (I have done it before - it's lovely).

Instead I was taken to a chilly treatment room and laid out under a towel, wearing disposable knickers, while the oddly-named Dante rubbed an exfoliating mud/kiwifruit pip/ground walnut shell mixture all over me. It was hard to relax, especially when she got to my thighs, where the prodding was painful. Then she slathered on a different mud treatment, which went on nice and warm, but soon cooled, wrapped me in a towel and left me for a while to reflect on the marvel that people pay good money for this. The best bit was then stepping into a hot shower to rinse it all off - that  was glorious. But after that I had to get back on the bench for the moisturising, with honey and lavender, which was ok; and then Dante delivered a scalp massage, which was SO uncomfortable I was gritting my teeth and willing it to be over - but it went on forever. Horrible.

Finally the treatment came to an end and I - of course - said, "Lovely! Thank you, Dante", and scuttled out of there, determined that I will never, never, submit to a free massage again. (Unless it's feet. Foot massages I do enjoy.) And I didn't even get to soak in the pools because it seemed a waste of what would otherwise have been my money to wash all that moisturiser off straight away.

UPDATE: Massages are like childbirth - the pain is soon forgotten in the pleasure of the result. And, regular 😃 reader, there was a result: my skin afterwards, a week later, is still noticeably, delightfully, smooth and soft. I had no idea I'd been so barnacly. All that exfoliation - polish, to use their unexpectedly entirely accurate term - had an actual, empirical, beneficial result. Who'd have thought it?

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