Our world traveller, Valentina Primo, found a little piece of Thailand right here in Maadi with a Thai massage and some good conversation at Cleoz Spa...
I’m lying on a cozy fluffy towel bed at the centre of this quiet room, warm candlelight surrounding me as an indescribable scent of flowers turns it into some kind of ethereal realm. Jujo stirs brown sugar and Jasmine oil over my back, and the scrubbing begins. My eyes are closed, my thoughts still roaming around my head, restlessly curious what´s about to come.
On entering Cleoz Spa, a microcosmos tucked away from Cairo’s chaos in a quiet lush road in Maadi, I was offered different options: relaxing, deep-skin, or Thai massages. I had always wondered what made Thai massages such a worldwide lust, so given that their staff was Thai I thought there would hardly be any better place to try out the worldly delight. Now, as the scent of Jasmine spreads around my body and sugar grains mischievously play around my back, my mind goes blank.
I wake up as Jujo, my massage therapist for the day, leads me into the massage area, a heavenly decorated room where a pastel-coloured double mat anticipates the body-twisting session that is about to start. Some women find Thai massages a bit harsh, Jujo told me, as they combine yoga-like stretching movements with a relaxing touch; but I am up for the challenge of discovering more than the loosening of my muscles, and make it my goal to embark on a full detox journey.
Only the sound of Thai music interrupts the hum of my breathing as I lie on the mat, very close to the floor. But the curious traveller in me can’t stay quiet for long and begins asking Jujo about her country, its cities, and the little things that make Thai massages so famous. As she keeps stretching my arms, I can imagine the Buddhist temples and gigantic oil baths that they heat with fire before the monks dip their feet inside. Jujo tells me about another treatment where a man, wrapped in heavy clothing, is pulled by two monks from each side until his bones crack. The reason why there are so many monks in Jujo’s stories is that this kind of massage was a component of Thai medicine, drawing influences from disciplines such as Theravada Buddhism, Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga, understanding of Chinese Meridians, and indigenous practices of the Thai people.
Jujo’s stories stop as my giggling gets contagious. She is using her elbows, her feet, and even her knees to twist my body from one side to another, bending my back into impossible shapes. I have tickles, I have goose bumps, I have otherworldly shivers, and I can’t stop laughing as I drop an unusual “Ouuuch” at my muscles stretching. It feels relieving and invigorating, and I seem to get smaller and lighter as my tensions begin to disperse.
I sit up as Jujo pulls my arm into unattainable positions, giggling with me as I can’t stop laughing at this sweet-and-sour mixture of pain and relaxation. I learn, then, the reason it feels so delicious: Thai massage is not only about relaxing sore muscles but enhancing flexibility and helping you recapture your range of motion. As it encourages the lymphatic function, it heightens the immune system and prevents diseases since it promotes flexibility. It’s a full-body detox.
She ends the massage and treats me to a delicious orange juice as I move to the main salon where a woman is sitting on a lavender armchair watching a comedy series while getting her toenails done. I’m feeling lighter, energised, and vigorous - more eager to visit Thailand than I ever was.