I was a tourist in Singapore yet again yesterday. I am wondering if it would be great if I could have a job that allows me to travel to various parts of Singapore as a resident tourist? There are many interesting places in Singapore that residents in Singapore may not be aware of.
As part of my attempts to learn more about my own country, I got myself a place onboard the tour, The Traditional Touch: Healing the Asian Way™, on a fine Saturday morning. This tour was put together by Journeys Pte Ltd in conjunction with Singapore HeritageFest 2010.
This post shall be largely on my personal experiences onboard this tour. I shall offer some leads and contact information of the relevant services that I had came across as part of the tour. However, since I am neither a trained medical professional nor a master in any of these traditional methods of healing, there will be very limited sharing on the traditional methods of healing I had came across during the tour.
Our tour started at Fort Canning Hill. At the Spice Garden of Fort Canning Park, the tour guide highlighted some of the plants and spices to us. I was rather fascinated with the turmeric though I have no photograph of it to offer here. Another plant that was highlighted to the tour group was the neem tree. I understand that it has antiseptic properties.
When we reached the Fort Canning Centre, we were given a special 30 - 45 minutes talk on Ayurveda. Ayurveda means "Wisdom of Life". This talk gave the tour participants a quick introduction to Ayurveda. I was impressed with the centuries of wisdom that had laid the foundation behind Ayurveda. It is not just a science of treatment, it is also a science of how to live life well.
Remember the neem tree that I had mentioned, the speaker from Innergy Training & Consultancy Pte Ltd was very generous and gave each participant two products by Himalaya Herbals. These were soap and facial cleanser made from Neem & Turmeric. Nature is wonderful. It somehow has provided for many of our needs in its own ways. I suppose we just need to have the knowledge to learn how to live in harmony with Nature?
During the talk, we also learnt about the three doshas (humours). These are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I learnt that acording to their taste, different food will either increase or decrease humors in the body. One thing that was stuck in my mind is that I have to practise learning to take time to taste the food that I eat. There were times when I just eat and not bother to taste my food.
Our next destination was at a tranquil looking space along Geylang Serai. Here, we were introduced to Jamu massage. Somehow I could not quite figure what Jamu is, so I went to check out wikipedia and found out this: "Jamu is traditional medicine in Indonesia." Interesting, I learnt that many of the herbal medicine used in Jamu are natural materials, many of them are food that we eat.
The Jamu massage place that we went has a humble beginning. The massage place, Diva Elements Spa, lies in a cosy spot within the Malay Village. We learnt that the skill was passed to the owner of Diva Elements Spa by her mother, passed over generations. When she finally decided to open her own spa two years ago, it was not a fearless decision. I am glad that she perserved to share her special skills and set up her own spa. The owner struck me as a very sincere and down-to-earth lady. Hopefully, good traditions like Jamu massage can be passed down the generations.
Just outside the Diva Elements Spa, it looked like we were being transported to the good one kampong (village) days. Right inside the spa, the decor is modern, clean and relaxing. One is greeted by gentle tribal music and the smells of massage oils as one enters the spa chamber.
One of the male tour participants volunteered himself for an upper body Jamu massage. His feedback was that it was good that he wanted to come back again. Now the issue is that Diva Elements Spa does not take male customers. Thank goodness that he is married, and Diva Elements Spa can provide services to husband-and-wife who comes together.
In addition, Diva Elements Spa also offers post natal massage and even slimming treatment. It also offers foot-steaming treatment. The tour participants were most pleased when we were given discount vouchers to enjoy the Jamu Massage services at Diva Elements Spa. In addition, I thought it was generous hospitality that the spa prepared light refreshments for the tour participants despite the fact that it was the good month of Ramandan, and the folks in the spa were fasting.
In case you wish to know:
Diva Elements Spa
No. 81 The Malay Village Geylang Serai
(By appointment only.)
The next main destination was at Eu Yan Sang in Chinatown area at 269A South Bridge Road . We were given an introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This Eu Yan Sang is also special in that it has a mini-exhibition on bird-nest. I caught a glimpse of some of the tools that were used in processing bird-nests. I also learnt that the best bird-nest in the world comes from Vietnam. Sarawak, however, is one of the countries that processes the highest quantity of bird-nest.
At Eu Yan Sang, we also met with generous hospitality. Each of the tour participants was treated to a sample of American ginseng tea.
The final stop was at the Chinatown Complex. This may turn out to be a favourite shop for the folks who wish to buy fresh herbal plants to use for cooking. At the very least, I have found out that this humble shop has a comprehensive supply of many kinds of herbal plants, imported from Johor Bahru. Each of the tour participants were given pandan leaves and stalks of lemon grass so that we can make a herbal drink for ourselves at home.
If you would like to find your way to this shop, here are the details:
China Town Fresh Herbs
You have guessed that I left the tour a contented tourist. Aside from being treated with generous hospitality at all the locations that I had visited, the tour gave me a quick introduction to Ayurveda, Jamu massage and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I would say that this tour is one tour to allow one to be exposed to the various healing practices that specific cultures in Singapore practises. While the time for the tour is too short to learn anything in-depth about these healing practices, novices like myself will find it a great way to have a snapshot of the various healing practices.
My conclusion, there is a wealth of wisdom in the Asian's traditional methods of healing.