The Oriental Spa Chamber
Huang Ah Ma is housed within Porcelain Hotel across 3 restored shophouses along Mosque Street. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill beauty parlour. And whatever your regular facial treatment is, you won’t find it here. But we’ll come to that later.
Huang Ah Ma is an oriental-themed spa chamber aptly located in Chinatown. Its unique concept is reflected in its interior décor and furnishings, with doors and dividers carved out of dark wood framing the walkways. While the chamber is dimly lit for a tranquil ambiance, the lanterns, oriental accents, and artificial flowers add occasional bursts of colour.The selection of facial and body treatments will shock you, incorporating all sorts of traditional ingredients and tools. Here, you can have treatments that smear your face with bird’s nest and pearl powder, or have your body kneaded with a bundle of 10 chopsticks.
I had the Imperial Night Beauty Secret Spa & Facial ($88), a spa and facial regimen best experienced after 7pm, as cell recovery and rejuvenation is at its peak then. Between the customary facial cleansing, peels and masks, here are 4 noteworthy highlights of the treatment that stood out.
Yao Tribe Foot Spa
The foot spa draws inspiration from the Yao Tribe women’s bath routine in the mountainous region of China. Blended with a concoction of rare Yunnan herbs, it’s believed to be the reason for their longevity and strong constitution, freeing them from ailments and sicknesses. Think of this as a Chinese version of the Roman Baths, but for your feet.
The private chambers were tiny but sufficient, though I imagine it might be uncomfortable for the claustrophobic. If you’re with a companion, go for the couple chamber - it’s way more spacious. My plan to take a nap through the session was thwarted by what set the record as the strongest massage to date. The masseuse can and will knead your body with all her might, and even with a decent threshold for pain, I found this to be quite intense. A little pain is necessary to relieve the knots in your body, but feel free to let the therapist know if it becomes unbearable.
Artemisia Herbs Detox & Ear Candling
This step employs heat to purge harmful substances and blockages of the meridian, a path through which qi (life energy) flows, making you feel tranquil and calm. Alas, I was anything but soothed. How can anyone not feel paranoid about having candles on her navel and in her ears concurrently?!
In hindsight, I would've enjoyed it better had I been less suspicious. If you try this, I’ll advise you to trust the therapist and relax your mind - it will make for a more comfortable experience.
Musical Ball Face Massage
We save the queerest for last.
This final step of the treatment is a massage that involves rolling magnetic musical balls on your face with 4 different strokes. While it was intriguing to feel the cold steel balls against my cheeks and hear the tinkling noises they made, its effects weren't especially invigorating. There wasn’t much to it apart from its novelty.
The treatment was kicked start with one heck of a solid massage, but the facial was underwhelming and lacking in thoroughness. Most of the therapists didn’t seem to be fluent in English, so this is a heads-up for patrons who can’t converse in Mandarin to save their lives. Nevertheless, the traditional flavour set Huang Ah Ma apart from the clean, pristine outlook sported by most beauty parlors.
On the whole, my experience was average at best. But if you’re on the lookout for an alternative beauty parlor experience, this oriental spa chamber may be worth trying out.
This post was made possible thanks to Huang Ah Ma.