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Lamb to the slaughter
Second Sis is wasting no time in bringing us to the dodgiest places in Penang. Small Sis and I obediently tag along for a 2-hour body massage, thinking we were in for a real treat at a spa haven.
Alas, we arrive at a lady’s groundfloor flat, which from the outside looks like any regular low-income urban flat. But once the front door grill is rolled aside, I am greeted by a reception and a huge signboard with the business’s name. Inside, the flat has been turned into a utopian spa haven of shiny marble floors, floral wash basins, candles and frangipanis floating on cups of water.
We are taken into a room, which has three 3-inch thick mattresses laid out on the floor, like the ones Dad used to bring home from the factory. Three Indonesian ladies introduce themselves and start rubbing our backs. Second Sis, the seasoned client, is relaxed and having a chat with her masseur. Small Sis is giggling away because she is ticklish and isn’t used to anyone rubbing her body so vigorously.
I quietly lie down like a lamb to a slaughter. I am ooh-ing and ahh-ing in pain inside and do not want to express it vocally for fear Second Sis thinks I am so useless. After 30 minutes, everything is over.
“You were snoring,” Second Sis giggles.
“What?” I said.
“You fell asleep.”
“What?” I ask in disbelief.
Small Sis giggles too. I check the time. I have been asleep for an hour! How did they not wake me up? It must be so rude to fall asleep in the middle of a massage!
“Don’t worry,” the seasoned Sis assures me. “A lot of people do it, it’s a sign that the massage is good.”
We get up to leave. I feel my skin has been worn thin from the constant rubbing. I tell Sis I didn’t enjoy it because the lady was too repetitive.
“She wasn’t pressing the right nodes,” I say.
“But you fell asleep,” she said.
“That’s because I’m still jetlagging,” I reply.
I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is that’s a good answer.
Proper Malaysian breakfast
After all that massage hoohaa we go for a snack, which ends up being kaya toast, coffee and half-boiled eggs – a proper Malaysian breakfast! I finally get one after seven days of being home, albeit at the wrong time of the day.
I miss the squiggly salt and pepper shakes!