GIVEAWAY COMPETITION to celebrate Thai New Year 2015!

I've been telling you all how much I love Thai herbal massage compress balls, and now I want to share them with you, my readers!
Click the image to enter on Facebook!

So, I'm giving four of them away in a giveaway competition to celebrate Thai New Year 2015, known here as Songkran!

Each winner will receive two of these 150g herbal compress massage balls, pictured.

Two lucky My Chiang Mai Everything readers will win two 150g herbal massage compress balls each.

Simply enter on Facebook here!

Terms and conditions here.

What ARE herbal massage compress balls!?

A herbal massage compress ball is simply a porous cloth pouch filled with medicinal aromatic herbs. They're used in traditional Thai massage to improve circulation, relieve pain and relax muscles.

I love them and they're really easy to use.

The heat penetrates deep into your body and is so satisfying and relaxing. The fragrant herbs used inside the balls are chosen specifically for their healing properties and smell gorgeous. I find that the compresses are great for massaging really achey muscles that can't handle more intense massage.

Directions for use

I recommend using two massage balls, so one can be warming while you use the other. It's easiest to have a friend use the massage balls on you, because they can reach your back more easily! If you don't have a friend to do it, you can still give yourself a lovely self-massage for a real alone-time treat.

Wet both of your massage balls with water then steam them for about 15 minutes. A vegetable steamer is perfect - the massage ball mustn't be in direct contact with water.

While I'm waiting, I like to do some gentle stretching and light oil massage to prepare my muscles for the massage balls.

After 15 minutes, remove one massage ball from the steamer, taking care not to burn yourself (a towel comes in handy!). Test the temperature on your hand to make sure the ball isn't too hot and then press the ball quite firmly into any achey or sore areas. Experiment with what feels good: a light tapping, or maybe prolonged deeper pressing. When it cools, put it back in the steamer and get the other one out. Repeat for fifteen to sixty minutes.

I really like to listen to lovely music and have my massage in candlelight. Perfect!

The massage balls are not suitable for children, pregnant women or people with severe diabetes. Do not use on open, infected or painful wounds. Always take care not to burn yourself!


Thai New Year starts on Monday the 13th of April and ends on the 15th. Everyone goes outside armed with buckets and super soakers to participate in a nationwide three day water fight.

In the past Songkran was a much more gentle affair: a time to cleanse images of Buddha and respectfully pour water over family and friends to bring them good fortune.
Posted by Amy Lou

How to Celebrate Easter Like A Boss At Sankampaeng Hot Springs, Chiang Mai

How to celebrate Easter in Chiang Mai? Sankampaeng hot springs of course!

How To Celebrate Easter at Sankampaeng Hot Springs:

1. Grab a bunch of your favourite Chiang Mai-ian friends.

2. Drive to Sankampaeng hot springs through gorgeous Chiang Mai countryside.

3. Pay to get in, currently 50 baht if you have a Thai work permit and 100 baht if you don't.

4. Walk through the green gardens and beyond the strange egg sculpture, that is rather phallic actually.

5. Sit for an hour or two near the bottom end of the bathing canals, dangling your legs in the hot sulphery water. Sit nearer the spring source only if you're hardcore and like the feeling of your legs being boiled.

This photo was taken by my friend Charlie! Thanks dude!

6. It's hot in April. Stay hydrated: sip 30 baht coconuts and 15 baht iced herbal roselle juice.

7. Buy a cute handmade basket of eggs. 20 baht for three big chicken eggs, or lots of tiny quail eggs.

8. Look at the sign for how long to boil your eggs for. BUT BEWARE. Follow the sign's instructions at your peril because it vastly underestimates how long the spring takes to boil an egg.

9. Boil eggs in the hottest pool of spring water, near the guisers, by hanging the basket on one of the hooks. Ignore the sign. Trust me: leave your chicken egg in there for 25 minutes. Run around in the steam and pretend that you're in an apocalypse movie.

10. Wash the sulphery water off the eggs in clean (?) water in the troughs nearby.

11. Give everyone their own egg.

12. Admire your egg. So smooth. So unblemished.

13. Look at the sad, broken egg that was taken out of the boiling water too soon. That's the Judas Egg. Feel pleased that it isn't yours and you listened to Amy from My Chiang Mai Everything.

14. Crack open your egg, breathe a sigh of relief that you ignored the sign. Eat your perfectly cooked egg dipped in soy sauce.

15. Discuss Easter.

This photo was taken by Charlie too! Thanks again Charlie!

16. Ponder the ways other people around the world are celebrating Easter right now.

15. Eat delicious cheap Thai food (phrik ong, pad kapow, spring rolls and som tam and sticky rice) in the restaurant and drive home in the late afternoon sunshine.

But don't drive too fast and overheat your bike, because remember, it's hot in April. Oops..
Posted by Amy Lou

We found an abandoned hippy-commune style guesthouse!

My lovely friend Jessy and I went on a girl-date motorbiking adventure yesterday.

It was so much fun and you won't BELIEVE what we found by accident. Click on the photos for bigger versions!

It was an un-sign-posted, seemingly abandoned guesthouse resort in the style of a hippy commune!

It was SO amazing. The buildings were made of earth and undulated beautifully. There was incredible art EVERYWHERE and everything was so colourful. We shouted 'hello' lots but nobody came. Such excitement! So, naturally, we were dying with curiosity and just had to explore a little bit ;)

It felt like we'd accidentally entered another realm.

This terracotta family were chilling together on the patio with a bunch of cookies and lily pads.

This truck was basically a huge bright yellow plant pot. Maybe that freaky demon owned it.

The undulating buildings were gorgeous. I want my home to look like it.

A watery world with houses stuck on. Why not?

These two ladies were enjoying a leisurely stroll in the garden.

I hear your question, carried on the wind: "Where is this amazing place of magical wonder!?"

I want to keep it a secret. At least for now.

"Ohhhhh :( Did you at least peek inside?"

I couldn't possibly reveal the answer.
Posted by Amy Lou

AMAZING Massage at Oasis Spa, Chiang Mai, Review

It's the day after I spent two hours being pampered at Oasis Spa, Chiang Mai. I'm still floating.

 I had the Queen of Oasis signature massage, and I recommend it to any woman. It was divine. They do a man version too, called King of Oasis. You could even get them together, in the same private room, for a romantic couples experience. 

I've never had a massage as good as this before. This was the first massage I've had in Thailand where the masseuse systematically searched my muscles for knots and worked them out, combining massage techniques from Asia and the West together.

There are three Oasis Spa locations in Chiang Mai. I went to the Oasis Spa Lanna on Samlan Road, in the Old City. It was gorgeous, I've never been to such a luxurious spa before. What a treat! The Oasis Spa is one of the fanciest spas in Chiang Mai, but it's not super formal and scary. I always get a little bit nervous before massages in a new place (is that weird?) but I quickly felt at-ease in the friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

There's some kind of magic, because the sounds of the city traffic disappear and you find yourself in an exotic world of calm beauty and grace.

Everything is heavy stone and wood, the water splashes in streams and fountains, sunlight filters through the leaves of huge old trees and there are plants and flowers every way you turn. It really is like a lush oasis. The indoor reception area is cool and scented with candles and flowers and filled with dark teak furniture and golden Lanna art. A set of shelves near the seating area is filled with a huge display of special lotions and potions, all made with a heap of natural ingredients that are sourced locally where possible.

I was welcomed by Naomi, the friendly, beautiful and graceful manager of Oasis Spa who guided me to the Lanna-style sofas in the reception area and served me iced pandan tea (oh my... so delicious. I have to get a recipe) and explained what the Queen of Oasis massage would involve. She smiled the whole time and listened carefully to my questions before giving thoughful, detailed answers. Then she handed me a small form to fill out, where I could write about any medical issues I had, specify whether I wanted a 'soft, regular or hard' pressure massage and had to promise that I wasn't poorly or pregnant.

Naomi took me through to the tranquil garden outside. I lounged on the sofas, shaded by the trees and Lanna umbrellas and sipped my tea. My masseuse prepared my private massage room and turned the air conditioning on. When it was ready, she called me in and asked if I'd like to take a shower.

The huge bathroom was attached to the massage room and 100% private and 100% beautiful.

It had a toilet, sink and a powerful rain shower with hot water and special, shimmering golden shower gel. Warm sunlight streamed in through the semi-transparent roof and the sound of leaves and seeds falling onto the building from a tree outside mingled with the gentle spa music that was drifting in from my massage room. The shower floor was cool grey slate and pebbles, and the walls were thick stone.

I spent ages in that shower, it was so relaxing. After using a huge fluffy white towel to dry myself I changed into a disposable stretchy black g-string the spa had provided... and that was it!

Back in the beautifully scented, dimmed massage room I locked my belongings away in a chest and waited for my masseuse to return, which she did a few minutes later. I took off my towel and laid on the comfortable massage bench on my back. She put a small mask over my eyes and a new fluffy white towel over me. Throughout the massage, she used the towel to reveal only the parts of my body she was working on. There are no photos of my massage because I couldn't see with the mask on. And I was nude, that too.

First was traditional Thai massage style assisted stretching.

This is sometimes described as lazy yoga - all the benefits of flexing your muscles, without doing it yourself! It feels SO good, better than when you stretch yourself. She knew just how far to push my body, and each time I went deeper into the stretch. It didn't hurt at any point - it felt incredible and I could feel my muscles awakening, even as the gorgeous, exotic aroma of the room and the music relaxed my mind.

Then my masseuse performed a hot stone massage on my torso.

She used scented oil so the stones would glide across my skin. The smooth hot stones felt amazing - like nothing I've experienced before. The heat penetrated deep into my body. She seemed to hold the stones in her palms and use her fingers to search for specific points in my upper and lower abdomen. When she found a point, she used the stone to press down for a few seconds, quite hard. At first it was uncomfortable, but it became much more pleasant after I reminded myself that I could ask her to be softer if I wanted and relaxed. After she'd pressed the stones for a few seconds, she massaged the hot stones in a circular motion, which erased any discomfort.

The masseuse seemed to be very in-tune with my body. I could feel that she lightened up if a point felt sore even though I said nothing and didn't move. I guessed why this was a QUEEN of the Oasis massage: some of the points were on my womb, where us ladies hold a hot water bottle when we have period pains. It surprised me at first, but the heat felt so good. Way better than a hot water bottle.

TIP: don't eat much before your massage. I think it would have been uncomfortable just after eating.

After the hot stone massage, my masseuse poured beautifully scented warm oil onto my skin before massaging gently.

I stayed on my back while she massaged everywhere except my boobs and lady parts, then flipped over onto my front. I was pleased to notice that there was a bowl of flowers below me, so I wasn't just staring at a wooden floor. They really think of everything at Oasis Spa. I asked her to use more pressure, and she did. The aromatherapy oils she used smelt so good.

Then came what I think was the Swedish massage. She searched for knots in my muscles, mostly on my back, and kneaded them out. 

It kinda hurt! But not enough to make me cry out or ask her to stop. It just made me pull some weird faces. I didn't ask her to go softer because I wanted to see what it would feel like after a while. And it was amazing! I could feel the knots kind of... pop! And get smaller! Sometimes she used the hot stones to smooth them out when she'd worked on them for a while. The whole process was fascinating to me. She found areas of tension I didn't even know I had.

Then she styled my hair!

She undid my hair from its plait and gently combed it out with her fingers before taking a few minutes to style my hair (!). This was a really lovely and unexpected part of the experience. It was reminiscent of being a small girl having my hair done by my mum. She was infinitely gentle and I couldn't wait to see what she'd done with my unruly locks.

Finally, I sat up while she gave me a head, neck and shoulder massage.

She took as much care with this last part of the massage as she had for all of it. After two hours, my massage was over. She said I could change and left me to it, but I just sat there in a spaced out daze for a while. Then she knocked to see if I was ready so I dragged myself up and got dressed.... and was blown away by my new hair do! She'd done an intricate French plait across the top of my head and secured it a high bun, Thai-style. I loved it. I had to take the bun out to get my motorbike helmet on but for a while I felt very graceful indeed! The photo below is later at home, after I'd take the bun out.

After I emerged from the dim massage room, someone bought me more tea while I spaced out on the garden sofas.

The feeling of serenity lasted all day, and I still feel great today.

My skin feels beautiful. Those oils must be magic. Even my boy noticed: Andy commented on it when I was driving him home on the motorbike. My back does feel sore today, though. I looked it up:

"It's important to drink a lot of water after a deep tissue massage to help flush lactic acid out of the tissues. If you don't, you might be sore the next day.It's possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage even if you DO drink water. This just means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues. It should pass within a day or so."
Awesome! A lot of waste products, gone.

I wholeheartedly recommend Oasis Spa.

It was so special and you can absolutely trust that they'll do everything professionally.

I could tell straight away that my masseuse knew what she was doing and was highly trained. There's no way your masseuse would talk on her mobile phone or chat with her spa-colleague (this happens way too often in Chiang Mai for my liking!). Every part of my massage experience had been carefully thought out, and all the products they use and the furniture and fittings they have are clearly super-high quality.

The only consideration is the price. The Queen of Oasis massage costs ฿3,900 plus 7% VAT and 10% service charge. There are much cheaper alternatives you could go for, but the Oasis Spa is an amazing treat and I think you really do get what you pay for. Considering the professionalism, highly trained staff, high quality products and surroundings, the level of personal attention you get and the fact that you have a private room and the beautiful garden to chill out in, the price seems less expensive and more value. I just looked up what a two hour signature massage costs in a regular London spa, and it's ฿11,568. Haha!

signature massage at Oasis Spa (or even a spa package if you're feeling really fancy) would make an amazing birthday, Christmas or anniversary gift.

Posted by Amy Lou

I love Thai herbal compress massages

Recently I've been getting more and more massages here in Thailand, and I've made a discovery.

Thai herbal compress massages are amazing. I love them.

Photo from Physiomins - Spa zen's Facebook page
I was never really that interested in getting a Thai herbal compress massage, because I thought:

"how could having a compress plopped around on my back possibly be as good as a more traditional massage, where they dig their thumbs, fingers, arms, elbows and feet into your muscles?"

I went to the wonderful Chiang Dao Nest with my friend Rob, and we both had a two hour long traditional Thai massage. The first hour and a half was as I'd experienced before: a mix of assisted stretches, deep massage and oil massage. Then, they pulled the compresses out of the steamer and used them while they were still really hot, and wow

It's so nice. It's deeply relaxing and the heat is really satisfying.

The fabric is quite rough so it felt kind of exfoliating too. The steam that comes out when the compress is pressed down into your skin smells wonderful, because it's been infused with all the herbal ingredients inside the compress. I think it's like when you make tea, and the tea infuses into the hot water.

Photo from Flickr user Voyages etc...
I researched the benefits of herbal compress massage when I returned home because I liked it so much and felt so amazing afterwards. It seems that the person performing the massage presses them on acupressure points, meridian lines or sore and achey areas. The ingredients are important too, the traditional ingredients are chosen for their healing properties, such as offering anti-immflamatory and astringent qualities.

It's very lovely, relaxing and invigorating. I really recommend it for the next time you have a Thai massage :)
Posted by Amy Lou

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