And so I was in Ho Chih Minh City with my sister Zsa-zsa, for a couple of days. And off course we went shopping on the first day. And on the second day we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels where we learnt how, 40 or so years ago, the Congs had outwitted the Yanks at war. And we later went to the Mekong delta area to take in some Vietnamese rurality. Did some walking at and in the tunnels, and at the delta we got to ride on a ferry boat, later on a horse-drawn cart through a village and, to get back to the ferry, we were taken on something like a gondola, without the serenade, luckily. We were taken to a coconut-candy (like our dodol) factory, but none in our group bought any candies there after we chanced upon a dog casually strolling round the cooking area. We were entertained to folk-songs at the village where we partook of some raw honey and divinely fresh fruits. Yeah, that sight-seeing trip took the whole day and off course, being shopaholics we had dallied at a lacquer factory far longer than the alloted half-hour; where I bought a Picasso reproduction in lacquer, framed in wood. I was rather pleased with that, actually.
And off course we were absolutely knackered when we returned to the hotel after stopping by at a halal restaurant for a lack-lustre dinner. And after a shower and solat, Zsa-zsa said "Come, let's check out the spa".
"Look at the time" I said indignantly: it was 10.00 pm. "We have an early flight to catch tomorrow, and your packing's not quite done, yet". "Alaah, only that little bit I can put in that (fake) Kipling bag I bought yesterday. Come, come, it's on the 4th floor". I'm the younger sister, the compliant Capricorn and she, the bossy Leo. Bossy? Well....... only sometimes. (Sshh - if she reads this, I'll never hear the end of it).
At the reception counter, the notice says, and I'm not lying, it says, you pay one price, only 14USD for all services, tip not included. Services are full-body massage, foot reflexology, rejuvenation facial, hair shampoo and cut, manicure and pedicure. You pay only 14USD for everything. We asked the pretty receptionist, "What if we just do one or two, is that ok?". "Oh that is alright Madamme, but you can do everything because we are open 24 hours", she replied sweetly in that typical sing-song Vietnamese accent. Zsa-zsa looked at me and I looked at her. Our thoughts were vibrating at the same frequency: "Eh OK-lah, that's the same price we pay for Thai massage at Sunway Pyramid man...".
And so we changed into the robes and men's bermuda-length cotton shorts, because the ladies L size were a tad tight for matrons like us. I remember thinking that I should start eating beef soup noodles and nothing else everyday from now on. Well, we decided to do just the facial and the massage.
The facial was out of this world. Lots of rippling massage to the cheeks, forehead and temples, with an exquisite head and neck rub to round-off. And off course a cooling mask, in between. Before moving to the body massage area, we ticked our rating of the service in a form and signed it. "That's a neat way to appraise staff performance", I remarked to Zsa-zsa. I rated mine as "good".
Now the full-body massage. It wasn't like the Thai massage at Sunway Pyramid at all. All we did was to lie face down on a bed in a darkened room. I did not know what or how the masseuse did the massage because I was at alpha-level or theta-level or whatever consciousness most of the time. But it felt good and at the right strength for me. Later Zsa-zsa told me that they had used their feet on us, they had literally stepped on us from our soles to our upper backs. No wonder it felt different. I rated the massage as "very good" and the masseuse said, "Thank you very much, Madamme", one of her KPI's met, presumably.
At this point, it was past mid-night and I was so very relaxed and my eyes were almost shut tight. We sleepily changed back into our clothes and proceeded to the reception counter to pay. With a sweet smile which I could barely see through half-closed eyes, the girl there punched on her calculator and chirped, "Madamme your facial and massage is 14 dollars plus your tip for the facial is .......... 7 dollars ........ plus your tip for the massage is ..........10 dollars. Altogether 31 dollars Madamme",.
I was jolted awake. What?! It says there 14 dollars only?.
"It's what you ticked in the form Madamme".
It's what you ticked in the form Madamme - kept going in my head. As we walked back to the room, Zsa-zsa said "Why you so generous, both I ticked "poor". Only 5 dollars each".
"Not generous-lah, just honest. You, very stingy", I said wearily.
Actually Zsa-zsa is a very generous person.
The name of the hotel can be found here.