Thai died and gone to heaven

One way to energise the body, mind and soul is to combine an indulgent Thai spa experience with a spiritual awakening at the Erewan Hindu shrine.

Australia's favourite food blogger Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, is reinvigorated after a massage, a pedicure, and a trip to one of Thailand's most intriguing shrines. 

If I were to arrange a perfect day, the morning would start with a sleep in, a delicious breakfast, a massage, beauty treatment and an afternoon tea. And on the last day of our time in this crazy bustling and entirely addictive city, I have a free day in which I can do what I want, when I want. 

I start off with a healthy raw toast breakfast at the Metropolitan's Glow restaurant, speak to Mr NQN on the phone making appropriately sympathetic noises when he tells me how cold it is in Australia, and then am on my way.

I walk towards Si Lom station, a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and stop at the first massage parlour I see.

Graph for Thai died and gone to heaven

I had seen ones that cater to menfolk and I recall a rather embarrassing incident two days before when I approached one with journalist Lisa. She whispered "I don't think they're for us" and ever optimistic and blind I told her that I'd go and check it out. As I approached, the heavy makeup became more apparent and the woman sweetly told me that it was a massage place for men. Oops.

But this is a completely legit one. I overhear a journalist (unrelated to our group) who is busy haggling with them on prices. He wants a foot massage for 200THB or $A6.89 and offers "But I'll write about you!" in a pleading tone. My therapist Moo comes to collect me and I get changed into a loose top and pants. They offer oil-based massages and dry massages, the latter being a traditional Thai massage.

Moo climbs on the massage bed and bends, pulls and pushes on my legs and then contorts them in surprising motions. I had no idea I was that flexible. "Madame, are you ok?" she asks. I am just fine. Brilliant, in fact, as she works firmly and expertly. After an hour I pay the 400THB ($A13.78) fee and float down the street.

As I leave, the journalist is upstairs getting his feet worked on and I hear the creaking of the chair under him and exit. I cross the road and I am in a bit of a rush to find somewhere for a pedicure. I need to be at the Erewan Tea Rooms by 2:30pm and it's now 1:30pm. I spot one place with a sign for manicures and pedicures a little up the road. As I swing the doors open, the staff and customers turn around from their seats and take a look at me.

"Can I have a pedicure please?" I ask and realise that everyone works there is a ladyboy. No-one throws shade like a ladyboy. I can only imagine what they are saying: "She could do with a haircut too."

Time works more fluidly in Thailand, so when I mention  that I need to leave by 2pm, this isn't a problem. But there is no rush. In fact, I'm very impressed at the level of detail that she goes to and all instruments are sterilised too. About 45 minutes later at 2:15pm, I have finished. I ask which way is Erewan Shrine so that I can take a taxi. I could take the sky train, but the traffic seems to be flowing pleasingly and I figure that I can arrive unharried without climbing up and down the many elevated walkways.

Graph for Thai died and gone to heaven

The travel gods are looking out for me. I get a taxi driver that used to live in Australia, so he can understand my strangely accented Thai attempts at directions. It's a short drive up Ratchamadri and I arrive at Erewan shrine, which is located just outside the Hyatt Erewan Hotel. The Hindu shrine is a popular tourist destination with an interesting history.

The hotel's construction was delayed and the foundations were laid on an inauspicious day of the calendar so the shrine was built to overcome the resultant bad karma. In 2006 a man believed to be mentally ill was beaten to death by bystanders after he vandalised the four-faced Brahma statue. Today, it is a hot spot for tourists and plenty of sellers peddle the chrysanthemum garlands and offerings for the gods.

Read the rest of the post here.

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