There I was, laying nearly naked by the river, only rising to rinse topless in a waterfall. My skin was smooth and smelled of coconut, my muscles at ease just like my mind.
Maybe I should have felt uncomfortable, ashamed to be there on this rock, drenched in the flow of nature’s shower, exposed. But, I didn’t. It felt just right.
I wanted a Balinese massage. They are advertised all over Ubud’s streets and within the pages of tourist pamphlets, seemingly something special. Massage parlors were everywhere I looked, but most of them seemed run-down, touting masseuses playing on their cell phone or sitting, face in palm, staring into space.
The similar drone of mediation tunes trickled out of the doors and the people at work in the windows, they seemed distracted, as if thinking about lunch rather than concentrating on their client.
What I saw didn’t excite me nor make me feel like I would be getting that authentic Balinese massage that I craved. I wanted something unique, and with this in mind, I dug a little deeper.
Just like that, I found that if I only drove about 30 minutes outside of Ubud, I could get the most promising massage yet, one that took place in the river. I made my booking.
Sungai Spa at Nandini Jungle Resort offers guests the chance to turn a traditional, Balinese massage into an experiential day in nature. Their massage by the river takes visitors down to the resort’s private oasis, enclosed in rock walls and dangling Banyan branches. The description screamed romance so Josh and I decided to get massages by the river together.
The Spa By The River Experience
It felt like we were going to a secret place as we were led away from the resort. Down some steps, we were ushered onto a bamboo cart that took us down the mountain.
Nandini faded away behind us as we were lowered down amongst tree canopies, vibrant jackfruit and menacing squirrels trying their best to get a taste of them for lunch.
The cart opened to a set of stairs, that went down so far, that we couldn’t even see where they ended. The sound of rushing water was our only indication that we were getting closer .
As the tree canopy gave way, we saw the spa by the river, encircled with flowers and masseuses greeting us with a smile. Giant rock walls surrounded the river, sporting moss and tiny waterfalls.
The trees above provided shade and lent their leafy vines as decorations. The spa by the river, it didn’t need to play those stale mediation tunes. It had the bird song, the rushing river and the trickling water, it had it all effortlessly. The next two hours went as followed:
• Taking a stepping stone trail through the river to change into a silky robe in privacy.
• A full body massage including scalp, fingers and earlobes.
• A choice between creamy coconut or green tea body scrub
• Time to relax in the sun for the body treatment to set in
• A rinse in the waterfall
I’m not good at relaxing. I don’t do well on beaches or laying by the pool. However, something about my massage by the river allowed me to let my stresses go.
Maybe it was the focus of my masseuse, the romance of having my partner by my side or perhaps the fact that I was in my element, outside and away from all of the commotion.
When the two hours were up, I stretched up my arms, stared out onto the river and took my first truly deep breath in weeks. My writing, my work, my goals and dreams, they were put pleasantly on hold.
Just when I thought we were finished for the day, we were led into another section of the spa for a ten minute foot massage and freshly brewed ginger tea, just to send us off.
The spa by the river was my perfect version of a Balinese massage. With so many people offering similar services, I found it to be truly unique, romantic, and a perfect representation of the culture and natural beauty that makes Bali so special.
If you too want to experience a spa by the river, check out the Sungai Spa website for booking information.
Disclosure: This spa treatment was complimentary but the relaxed muscles and mind were my own.