Nakedness, Mitts 'n' Gritts, and Muugii gets her bum out....
on Catherine Dupre (Mongolia), 29/Nov/2010 08:30, 34 days ago
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My colleagues wanted to do something special for me in my last week, and decided that a trip to the‘саун’ was in order. So after work one day last week, Muugii, Soyol, Nurze and I all went for our special treat......I was told the саун was like a sauna, but I was still unsure what to expect (this being Mongolia afterall..) but the ladies were so lovely about it all that I decided I would just go along with whatever – which is generally the flow I have gone with though all my time here, drawing the line only at downing vodka shots at lunch time.Theсаун turned out to be a communal bathing/pampering centre. And it was soooooo nice. We arrived and after some negotiations had been made by my colleagues with the staff our significantly bulky outdoor gear was taken from us. Through a door, we were led, into a kind of antechamber with lockers for clothes, we undressed - and they quickly noticed the tattoo on my shoulder that says‘Mongolia’ in traditional Mongolian script. I had been anticipating some comments, and had had maybe a little trepidation as to how they would take this gesture.....but they seemed to really like it, and seemed genuinely pleased that I loved Mongolia so much I would have it inked onto my body!It became clear quite quickly that Muugii had elected herself to be in charge of me, and once we were all towelled up she ushered me into a shower wet room. It was a slightly odd set up, an L shaped room, in the shorter part, three showers, with some nice shampoo and body wash, in the longer part, two‘bed/table’s covered in Clingfilm, past these, the steam room.There were a couple of other ladies pottering around, naked, and two or three‘attendants’ (for want of a better word). We four all showered and washed our hair together, having deposited our towels at the door. Muugii, Soyol and Nurze made no bones about checking out my naked body. In fact, Muugii, who had obviously initially been trying to play it cool, gave up on any attempt at feigning disinterest and indicated that I should lift up my arms and turn around for them. They chattered and giggled and pointed at my waist and bottom, admiringly. Mongolian women, it seems, in general, do not really ‘go in’ at the waist, and they tend to have sweet little sloping bottoms, rather than a big round booty like what I got. I think they found my skin tone interesting too. Luckily I am no prude and they were so obviously just genuinely curious and unabashedly pleased with the opportunity to see a naked white girl that I didn’t mind at all, and in fact had my own natural curiosity, only I was a lot more subtle in how I went about making my observations!Once the‘inspection’ had finished, and our hair was washed, we took turns to sit in little stools, on the little sheet of plastic we had each been given for “underrr yourrr bum!” and an attendant gave each of us a perfunctory head massage while she put some kind of thick conditioner in our hair, which was then covered with a shower cap.At this point we were ready to go to sit in the steam room, a tiny little cubicle with four seats, it was so funny, as the steam was coming out of a tube underneath Muugii’s seat, and much hilarity followed as we gestured and intimated that Muugii’s bottom was in fact the actual source of the steam; “thank you Muugii!” I understood in Mongolian and I just laughed along with them.From the steam room we went back and forward form the showers a few times, and then took turns to lie on a plastic covered table and be exfoliated by a girl with mitts and grits. I don’t think I have even washed myself so thoroughly! I felt a bit like a child, and a bit like a princess. And actually a bit like an object, but not necessarily in a bad way. There was something sort of competently mechanical about the detached methodical manner in which I was scrubbed that was actually quite reassuring – and removed even the chance of self consciousness.There is something very nice about communal bathing I think. My friends and I have often washed together, nothing remotely erotic or weird about it, just companionable and relaxed. A group of women can really unwind and indulge in the peculiarities of their gender; vanity, comparison, gossip, co-operation (you wash my back I will wash yours) etc, when bathing together.After the scrub I was steered back to the shower, and it was indicated that I should wash off the hair treatment. As I was about to turn around to do this however, I felt a hand on my shoulder gently push me back the other way, and I realised the scrub girl with the mitt was washing my back.  Now that's what I cal service.When we were all as clean as clean could be, we reclaimed our towels and left the wet room. In the next room, a row of lovely big fat soft massage beds beckoned invitingly. As I made myself comfortable, I was brought a cup of green tea and once I had finished and was putting my cup down, an attendant came silently up behind me and whispered that I should lie down on my front. And thence began a lovely relaxing wonderful massage. I have had two or three massages in Mongolia, and all of them have been incredibly painful, and being a qualified masseuse myself, I have even been a bit concerned about some of the quite frankly brutal techniques they have used. But this particular one was lovely, although I realised how horribly knotty and tense and tender my shoulders have become here.All too soon it was time to turn over, and one by one my hands were picked up, massaged, and then painted with hot paraffin wax which quickly cooled and hardened slightly, and my hands wrapped in plastic for the duration of the facial treatment, which consisted of mainly massage, but then a facemask was applied and then we were left for 20 minutes, sooo relaxed and comfortable, I nearly fell asleep, I think one or two people there actually did, as there was the gentle sound of snoring coming from somewhere, but I was so floaty and floppy I didn’t really register, perhaps I did fall asleep....I was so sorry when it was all over, but I felt so good, so chilled, so CLEAN! But once Muugii mentioned dinner I realised that I was also very hungry. We walked a short distance to a Chinese restaurant, where I let them order, saying, truthfully, that I would eat anything at all on the menu. It was a lovely meal, and even though they kept forgetting to include me in the conversation, I was very content, and Muggii did make a real effort to express things to me in English.By the time we finished our meal we were the last people in the restaurant, which was a very god thing as it turned out.....Muugii had undone the clasp of her skirt as she ate, to ease the pressure on her full stomach. However, she then forgot she had done this, and so when she stood up to leave the table her skirt fell down around her ankles, causing her to screech and grab for it, as the rest of us all exploded into hysterics at this fantastically slapstick vision; when someone doesnt have enough hands to cover their front and behind and retrieve their fallen garment all at the same time, the resulting manic flapping is always hilarious, and inevitably leads to the entire debacle lasting a few more comical seconds.So, relaxed and clean and well fed, and superbly entertained, I flicked through my dictionary (tired of repeating“goy bain” – this is lovely) for a new way of expressing my pleasure and gratitude, and found it, бүрэн төгс ‘completely perfect’.Which was exactly how I felt my evening had been.