You know that f*ck it gene I have. Well sometimes it leads me to agreeing to do really dumb things. Things like going to the gym in a country where if I walk down the street for 5 minutes I sweat like I’ve run a marathon across a desert.
And so I found myself dragging Totie with me to an 8.30 rendevous with Kheang (who was actually an hour late!) and Phirum at the Phnom Penh Sports Club.
Having paid our $5 entry fee we were handed a towel and headed in where Phirum announced that we would go to the gym first before going in the beautiful blue cool., refreshing looking pool that was directly in front of us.
The gym was a huge room on the first floor and Phirum very kindly offered me the option of choosing the equipment. A quick look around and I opted for the recumbent bike, figuring I could just about manage to sit and peddle without melting as long as I did it quite slowly.
I managed 5 minutes and then headed to some strange looking machines on a slightly raised area behind us. It turned out these machines were a kind of old fashioned Vibroplate contraption and much hilarity ensued as we cranked them up to full pelt and watched our bums wobble away in the mirror.
Kheang arrived and Phirum headed off to do something ridiculously strenuous with her (boxing was muttered at one point but I think the compromise was treadmill) and meanwhile Totie and I amused ourselves for a little longer by trying out a massage machine (which also involved involuntary body part wobbling) and then going back to the vibrating machines, sitting ourselves firmly on a chair and alternating between putting our legs and arm on the machine. Bloody hard work this exercise lark, don’t ya know 😀
Next it was off to the pool and I have to say, apart from a slight Sara freak out (internally thankfully) at the floor of the shower room (I’ve just shuddered again whilst typing that) the pool was fab. Cool, clean looking and relatively quiet, we had a little swim and a girly gossip with Kheang delivering her, relatively gentle, daily insult that I had beautiful fresh skin because I don’t think much!
And then it was pamper time.
One of the ways Kheang had convinced me to join her on this adventure today was the promise of jaccuzi, sauna and steam room and sure enough there they all were. She’d also mentioned ‘bringing creams to make our skin more soft and beautiful’ and sure enough she and Phirum left the changing room armed with various tubs and tubes, and worryingly, a bag of limes & tamarinds and a can of condensed milk!
I checked out the rules of the ‘spa’ and after making sure I wasn’t breaking any (including wearing the jacuzzi uniform) our first stop was the hot tub – a balmy 37.5 degrees. We applied aloe gel to our face and gradually eased ourselves in. A few minutes there and then into the cold pool. Sitting at 17.6 degrees this was no big shock to me feeling just like the sea on a summer day in the UK. Poor Phirum and, to a lesser extent, Kheang did not adjust so easily. We spent our obligatory few minutes in there and then got out to generously apply collagen scrub!?!?! to our whole body (I stuck to just arms and feet) and then trotted off into the sauna.
5 minutes in there and we’re back out and into the shower to wash the gunk off and this is when it really got interesting.
Mixing pots appeared and Kheang and Phirum got to work. The first pot contained lime juice, tamarind and milk and the second a mixture of turmeric (that appeared from the bottom of the bag of limes) milk and lime juice. I was reliably informed that the former was for our body and the latter for our face. The girls both covered themselves in the milky limey gloop before Kheang slapped generous amounts of the turmeric slop onto her face. When asked why she wasn’t applying the turmeric she pointed to her white costume and said she didn’t want it turning yellow, so I decided to borrow this one and claimed the same would happen to my white face! I did try a little of the body concoction though again only putting it rather sparingly on my arms for fear of stinking of sour milk for the next few days.
Gunked up, it was time for the final part of the treatment – the steam room. On entering, there was a distinct odour of Cambodian curry to the room, which Phirum quickly pointed out was due to the use of herbs such as lemongrass in the top of the steam vessel. For those of you that know me, there was another little Sara phobia moment here thanks to the previous visitors to the room also having covered themselves in various medicinal foodstuffs, the remains of which were on the wet floor and seats. A swift talking to myself and I gradually relaxed as the room filled with steam and I have to say I spent an enjoyable 5 minutes or so bathing in the curry scented steam.
Thanks to the food concoctions both on my skin and in the steam room I was by this time ravenous and so having showered I sniffed myself surreptitiously to check I didn’t stink of sour milk and confident that I didn’t dried and dressed at breakneck speed.
The morning finished an amazing (and very cheap) shared vegetarian feast at a nearby restaurant followed by a luxurious ride home in Phirum’s car (a rate treat in a city of tuktuks).
I have to admit that, despite my initial misgivings today was great. I even enjoyed the gym and have made a pact with Kheang to go regularly in future. Watch this space to see how that transpires…