With some Coconuts love, we would like to bring your attention to a very local and traditional spa practice, which many beauty salons call “V Spa.” For our purposes, “V” is for “vagina,” not “vendetta.” After all, better to make love not war, eh.While V Spa is the cool trendy name that salons often favor over ratus, the traditional label, regardless of how cool V Spa sounds, it’s actually quite HOT in practice.
Pretty, inside and outside
It’s been a while since I’ve heard of the very age-old traditional treatment called ratus. It’s common knowledge that Indonesian ladies are very concerned about the way they look: the beauty rituals, even the simplest ones like head massage and eyebrow plucking, are performed daily, woman-to-woman in the house or even on the street, while watching tourists passing by or waiting for clients. Local women can be very particular about their beauty: gray hair is removed without any mercy, face masks made of grind herbs are applied at home and the traditional concoction of jamu is consumed religiously for that “female beauty” and “inner glow.” And we haven’t even gotten started about the royal treatments of lulur and boreh—that’s a whole different story, worth a proper article! With all these there is no wonder Indonesian ladies have a special treatment for their…well, cores of femininity. Yes: vaginas.
How do you do, Miss V?
I arrive at Talaga Spa—the only Western-oriented place providing the service I’ve managed to Google—almost bursting of curiosity. I’m not alone, a friend is joining me. We’ve decided, that kind of experience has to be shared. We’ve done our homework reading the treatment description but we still do act like 12-year-old giddy girls when a hostess starts to explain what’s going to happen. She blushes, we giggle. “We prepare your Miss V and…” At this moment, we’re going red with our eyes popping out, trying not to crack. Our salon therapists arrive and we are saved, the hostess breathes out with relief.
Smoking hot, literally
We enter the double room and after the mandatory flower foot bath, change into robes. As this particular spa is tourist-oriented, the treatment starts with an 1-hour Balinese massage, which is actually smart: gentle strokes combat the tension and gigglish stress is fading away. My friend and I are relaxed and sleepy with the lights dimmed, incense covering us in sweet fog. So when my salon lady asks me to turn face up and takes my paper panties off I don’t even bother to raise a brow. She gently wipes my intimate parts like a nanny changing a diaper of a newborn. Then she starts tucking tiny balls made of herbal powder into the outer pleats of skin. My Bahasa Indonesia is not fluent enough to ask about what herbs are being used and their healing power. My friend next to me sighs: “I really miss my husband now.” While we lay there with our secret parts stuffed with herbs like the Sunday roast, the therapists slip away and come back with the devices looking like little sate-makers or simply charcoal grill. A ceramic pot steams and divine herbal aroma covers the room. Then the funny wooden stools arrive: there is a hole in the middle. I put on a tube-like dress made of batik and sit on the stool, the therapist drapes the fabric around my ankles so not a single molecule of magic steam would escape. In 10 seconds I start feeling like a kebab. Lamb kebab being grilled, or maybe salmon being smoked? This is actually the ratus itself: “fogging” Miss V with medicinal herbs, which is said to be a great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal aid, tightening the muscles, cleaning the mucous and eliminating any unpleasant odors.
The nice warm sensation mutates into screaming hot, so I jump up! After the charcoals are adjusted, we try again. It’s extremely fun to watch your mate going through the same stages, so we laugh out loud, all four of us, spa ladies included. When we are done with smoking our genitals, we are cleaned and wiped, herbal lints discarded and moisturizer applied. I feel extremely clean, maybe too clean to my taste. Both of us shuffle on the bike seats and Miss V feels like a stranger. I was actually wondering during the whole treatment: if I am married, should I call it “Mrs. V” instead? Politically correct and all.
Ratus treatment is so unique and so Asian, you ladies in Bali have to try it for sure. Not to fear, it won’t confuse you more than your typical Brazilian. The only thing is, if you can, try to find the place that is more local and established, not for the curious tourists but for the real Indonesian mamasitas. Ask your local girlfriends. That’s what “Mrs. V” and I are going to do for the next round.