(No.7, Vol.3, Aug 2013 Vietnam Heritage Magazine, Advertorial)

Photo: Forester Beach Spa

Quite common it is to see freelance masseurs at work on beaches in Thailand. At Mui Ne, the hotels tend to
have their own semi-private sections of beach and this seldom occurs. Many people feel that proximity to the infinite lapping of waves and the calming effect of a sea breeze is something that adds to a massage experience. I am happy to report that this is actually available at this most popular Vietnamese beach resort and at a very professional and organized level too. ‘Forester Spa’ operates from the palm-lined gardens of The Sunshine View Hotel and has two other branches, one of which is a little further along the main ‘strip’ near the Allez Boo Hotel. I went along to test out their expertise, accompanied by my wife and teenage daughter, for whom this was to be a first-time adventure.
You are right on the seashore, but there is something of the atmosphere of a minority mountain village here too. The massage rooms are housed in frame huts made of bamboo and lattice work. You may think that lying face down for around an hour looking through a hole in the massage bed at a small bowl of water with a lotus flower in it would be a tad boring. However, the background meditation music and wafts of citrus from the body oil set my mind on a dreamy course and the time just flew past.
There is a long ‘menu’ from which to select your treatments, all of which purport to provide specific benefits for your skin, body and mind. Three work on your face-aloe vera, purifying and mud. The first of these two materials are also featured as wraps in the full body section, which also includes the organic scrub and the ‘after sport’ for the fitness-minded, and the third uses the curiously named ‘azial body oil.’ Lastly there is a list of massage therapies, from which I chose the ‘Aromatherapy’ and the girls the ‘Relaxing Massage’.
Rubbing, pressing, pommeling, chopping, twisting and turning are the gerunds that could sum up the actions that will be applied to your carcass. My massage lasted ninety minutes, the duration of a soccer match, but this was no goalless draw. There were moments of ecstasy and if not agony, certainly bemusement. There were frissons even of fear when my forehead received a good hard chopping. ‘Good heavens’, I thought, ‘I am at the mercy of a masseuse who could take my life with one karate chop.’
The girls’ massage lasted the length of a short feature film – one hour-so they were waiting for me as I stepped out of the A frame, a new man. The wife was quite silent, even blasé, about the experience. She is something of an amateur masseuse herself. Once she applied her ‘skills’ on me when I had a bad back due to poor sleeping posture. I was cured but that was more down to drinking a few glasses of her excellent medicinal wine. The active ingredient of this concoction, dear reader, is certain unprintable body parts of a cat. I was only informed of this after I was cured! My daughter’s comment on the massage was, ‘It tickled’. She certainly did look quite tickled pink.
This is an advertorial and it behooves me to trumpet the news of other services available at ‘Forester’. They have a sauna and steam bath which, for a fee, you are allowed to frolic in for a limitless time. There are all the services you can expect from a beauty parlour and men and ladies’ hairdressing. If you are interested in having the ‘whole caboodle’ at a reasonable price, there are indulgence and beauty packages where you can get, for example, a body massage, a foot massage and a facial.
In my day, it used to be that donkey rides, sand castles and sticks of rock were the essentials of a holiday by the sea. Nowadays it seems a massage is a must-do part of the relaxation and there are plenty of places in Mui Ne to get one. No doubt most of them are very professional, but it would be hard to beat the ‘Forester’ for overall atmosphere and excellent service. They certainly toned up my weary flab. One thing is for sure, it is easier to find a massage in Mui Ne than it is to find a bar that serves up a decent flagon of cat wine. ‘Just as well’, I hear you say!

‘Forester Beach Spa’ branches
at 82 and 9A Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street,
Ham Tien, Phan Thiet, tel (062) 3741-899

By Ritch Pickens