My Sulfur Bath Experience in Tbilisi

I was wandering around Tbilisi in search of a good place to have dinner when I came across several brick, domed rooftops which happens to be sulfur bathhouses.

I came to understand that these bathhouses are an important part of Tbilisi’s history. Tbilisi got its name from the hot springs that run under this district. According to legend, it was these sulfur springs that made King Vakhtang Georgasali to decide to settle there and make it the new capital.

I must admit, visiting one of these sulfur baths in Georgia was the most embarrassing but also one of the most hilarious experience during my recent travel.

There are five sulfur bathhouses left in Abanotubani district, or so I counted, compared to around more than 60 at the peak of its popularity. I wasn’t sure which to choose but someone approached me and invited me to try it. He lead me to what I never thought was a bathhouse. The exterior was elegant as it was inside. It appears totally different from the other bathhouses. I even thought it was a mosque!😅

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You can choose to go for a public bath or a private room. Even though public bathing will cost me a lot cheaper, bathing with strangers still didn’t sound very appealing to me so I opt for the latter and it’s rented by the hour. One of the staffs accompanied me to my room and I was told that I should dip myself in the water for 20 minutes while waiting for the masseuse to arrive. I must say, I am not very fond of any activity that involves water but I was impressed and felt okay when I came inside the big bathing room. There was a changing room, a toilet, a sitting/waiting area, a pool of hot sulfur water (40°C-50°C), a massage slab and shower. I paid for the room, the towels, shower gel, scrub and massage.

Since I booked a private room, I used it naked. The water was literally hot! As I tried to submerge myself, I already felt like drowning. It’s a small tub/pool but I had some difficulty breathing and I felt like the water’s gonna swallow me whole. Good thing the smell of sulfur wasn’t that strong. When I finally managed to fully submerge myself, it felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life!

Then the masseuse came. A stout fifty-ish woman with an austere face. I watched her walk to the waiting area where she suddenly stopped and stripped her clothes except her underwear. She came in front of the pool with her piercing gaze and pointed to the marble slab at the corner of the room. She then filled in a bucket of water. Naked, I went out of the pool and clumsily made my way to her. I smiled and said hello. She didn’t smile nor reply. She just looked at me and pointed where I should stand. It was awkward as hell!  I moved as instructed and when I turned to face her she was already carrying the bucket and threw the water at me! Ice cold water!!! I literally shrieked out of shock and I even felt furious I screamed why did she do that? She started laughing too hard then and asked me, “Good?” Hell, no! But yes, it was, to be quite honest, a few seconds later! She continued laughing her evil witch, sly laugh. I ended up laughing with her instead. I came to know much later that she also doesn’t know English so you can probably imagine how it was for the rest of my time with her there.

She started to scrub my arms while standing then she let me lay down in the marble slab to exfoliate the rest of my body. After the scrub, she filled in a kind of small sack with soapy water and covered me up with it. It’s the second best part of the whole experience, I felt like a baby and my skin felt softer and smoother.

Then came the best part — the massage! The human moment that I finally managed to totally relax! Her hands were so light but were really very good at what they do. I had a full-body massage and it was so totally worth it! After 20 minutes, she doused me again with buckets and buckets of water as she laughs her evil laugh. After feeling content and satisfied (I guess) throwing water at me, she finally stopped and started gathering all her stuffs in the bucket then left laughing.

I took another dip in the hot pool for a few more minutes and ended up laughing to myself. It was a fun experience. I then showered and got dressed and moments later, the phone rang and my time is up.

I left the bathhouse relaxed, happy and satisfied. Once outside, I remembered I was hungry and so I went on looking for a place to dine in. What happened next is another story that will stay in my heart forever but for now, I’ll keep you with the bathhouse experience.

Have a wonderful day, homo sapiens! 🙂

Some Lessons Learned From My Most Spontaneous Travel

I first started traveling one destination at a time where I make a research of what places to see, what things to do, what stuff to try, what foods to eat, etc. I usually spend almost a month in one country exploring its different provinces. Then I tried dividing my vacation days to two countries. It was better. My most recent vacation though was something I didn’t really have time to plan about. My vacation was cancelled a few times the last two years and I almost have given up thinking about it. When schedules were finalized and I can really go on leave, I wasn’t sure where to go. First Jordan. Then Qatar and Jordan. Then Qatar and Georgia. Or just Georgia. I ended up traveling to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Jordan.

Among my main goals while traveling are to indulge myself in alcohol and suffice my palate with dishes I have never tried before and eat every pork dishes available in the place. 😅 (I’ve been living in Kuwait for the past nine years and a half, alcohol and pork are prohibited here.) And over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best things about travel is not merely about the places you’d be visiting or the food you get to taste the first time but the things you learn while traveling. Of course I can only speak for myself and so as far as I’m concerned, traveling has taught me a lot of things about people, culture, tradition, food, places, history and life in general. It also has taught me a lot of things about myself.

Most of my travels in the Philippines were spontaneous ones. I get to go to provinces three hours or more away from my hometown with just an hour notice. When I started traveling to other countries though, I had to research and make a list of things to do, places to go to, where to stay, etc. It was okay at first but following a certain schedule while traveling makes me feel my options are limited. I felt like I’m not getting the most of it so I went back to traveling without having everything planned. Today, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from my most spontaneous vacation.

Decisions.

It’s very important to be very flexible with your plans so when forced to make last minute decisions, it won’t turn out so bad. Even the most indecisive person can change and learn how to make spontaneous decisions while traveling. Your plans could totally change but roll with the changes and discover other ways to enjoy.

You need not be multilingual.

While knowing a second (or more) language can really be very helpful while on the road, I have never been trapped in a situation where I badly needed to have known one. It’s sometimes embarrassing that the people I meet are bilingual but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying their company. And I was never in trouble for knowing just one.

Strangers can be the best guide books and they can be the best of friends you’ll ever meet.

While there are a lot of ways that could be of help when traveling alone like Google maps and stuff, strangers can still be the best guide books ever. I once asked a stranger how to go to this particular restaurant that serves traditional dishes while in Vietnam. He helped me find the place but suggested an even better place! And when I visited the place he recommended, I’ve met several other people there as well, a few of the best people I’ve met while traveling. Every stranger I’ve met has lead me from one place to another and each place was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Unplanned travel escapades are where the fondest of memories are.

I’ve always find spontaneity a lot more rewarding than a carefully planned life. Since I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 18, almost everything that happened in my life were unplanned. Same thing when I travel. The many instances where I wasn’t prepared during the trip turned out to be the best and where the fondest of memories were made. I’m not a big fan of surprises but I am always amazed where my love for spontaneity leads me. Unplanned escapades are usually short but in my experience, it’s never short of thrill and excitement! These memories are the ones I relive again and again. It never fades. The memory of each unplanned adventure never gets old.

It’s not always about where you go. It’s also about the people you’re with and things you do together wherever it leads you to.

No matter where I go to when I travel, one thing happens for sure, even if I don’t initially notice it, I come back a better person than who I was when I left. I gain more positivity and courage so thanks to the people I meet along the way. Every person I meet is unique and has something to offer which adds to the excitement. Never in my life have I thought of going on an escapade with marijuana smokers and learning a lot about life from them. Turns out, they’re a few of the kindest of people I’ve met.

It’s okay if things go wrong.

My parents, my mom specially, raised my brothers and I to always follow the rules. If we follow the rules, nothing could go wrong she said. Sure, generally she’s right but following the rules all the time is not fun. Following what the guide books say, it leaves us with little chance for spontaneity. It limits us from appreciating the beauty of the unexpected. When things don’t go according to plan, be okay with it. More often than not, it leads to better and more exciting adventures.

Inform your bank.

It is important to inform your bank about your travels because during my recent trip, they put my card on hold because of suspicious transactions. Know that when your bank notices something unusual on your transactions, they have the right to put it on hold. For my bank, there’s an option when you log-in online where you can inform the bank of your travel dates so they wouldn’t suspect your future transactions. It’ll be hell to have no money while in a foreign country so consider this.

Overpacking sucks.

This is a serious pain in the ass. For years, packing my things is what my travel nightmares are made of, I’ve never learned to travel light until my most recent escapade. Having to travel from one country to another at a very short notice, I had to ask my then still stranger travel buddy to pack my stuff for me. My packing skills are seriously awful. It’s amazing to see her how to do it and yeah, I definitely learned a lot from her. It’s not easy travelling from one place to another with large suitcases.

Appreciate and surrender to the moment.

Of course it’s nice to take photos of almost everything beautiful and interesting when you travel — the tourist spots, the food you’ve tasted the first time, the views, etc. — but sometimes, we forget to appreciate these things as it is because we’re busy taking photos for Instagram. During my recent travel, I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am — phone, camera, extra batteries, chargers, etc. — but I also get to appreciate everything more and I get to see and explore hidden gems because my phone was dead. I was left to explore the streets not knowing where it’ll lead me. Surrendering to the moment made the trip so much more exciting, interesting, educating, fun and special.

Life is so damn good.

Sometimes we forget to be grateful how fortunate we actually are. As I grow older, I become more grateful for being alive and having the chance to travel from time to time. Life is good. I know we all have times when we feel like life is so unfair but life is good, homo sapiens. Life is so damn good.

Quote of the Week 

Jobs fill your pocket,

Adventures fill your soul.

-Jaime Lyn Beatty

More banana, please!

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