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Friday, December 16, 2011

Guest Author: Gail Herndon and Brenda Goldstein, and the Spa Less Traveled

We're doubling up on guest authors this week! It's like it's Christmas or something! Which is convenient, because this book is a good idea for a holiday gift and next week you'll already have your shopping done, right?
Two friends, Brenda Goldstein and Gail Herndon, take us along on their journey to The Spa Less Traveled, published by Pasadena's own Prospect Park Media.

We didn’t intend to write anything – it was just about getting together, hanging out, exploring the city and seeing where that took us. Our first outing in 2007 was Chinatown. We went to a lecture at the LA Library on the history of Chinese food in Los Angeles. There was a small panel of diverse perspectives, including author Lisa See and former LA politician Michael Woo. We did a fascinating walking tour which, in hindsight, really set the stage for our book. We ate, we shopped (found some amazing deals on beaded shoes!) and we knew we’d be back. There was much left to see and discover.

Our second trip was to Thai Town. The boundaries for Thai Town are much smaller than Chinatown, and as such one could actually “do the town” in one day. It was here that the idea for a massage appeared. It was at the end of our visit, and though we’re not ones to wear heels on a field trip, our feet were duly tired from all the walking. The only knowledge we had about Thai massage was that it was “different.” Hmmmm. Sure, why not try it?

We were first given a loose top and large pair of pants with a long, attached fabric tie. Later we learned these are called “Fisherman” pants, and there are specific instructions about getting them on correctly. I don’t know if either of us did it correctly that first time. One difference of Thai massage is that the massage is performed on the floor, on a padded mat. The massage starts with you face down. There is a cushion for your face and a bolster for your feet. Another difference is that the massage both starts and ends at your feet. Traditional Thai massage is also performed dry – that is, without oil. If there is an area, typically on your back or neck, that has more knots to be worked out, they may ask if they might use Tiger Balm, a salve made with a unique blend of essential oils. This helps facilitate the massage, and allows the therapist to more easily manipulate the sen lines, similar to meridians used in Chinese massage.

And so it began. We’d go to a new city and have another new massage experience. After a while, we realized we’d gathered some pretty good information – the parking tips alone are valuable, for those challenged to find parking in population-dense Los Angeles. We loved learning about Korean, Russian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese massage modalities. Chapters are dedicated to each in The Spa Less Traveled, and we provide a review for the over 200 places listed. It’s one of the great things about living in Pasadena – we’re close to so many interesting places worthy of exploration. And getting a massage is a great way to get to know a neighborhood!

15 comments:

Margaret said...

I heard the authors talking about this book on KPCC a while back, and I thought--wow--what a great idea for a book. It sounds so fun.

Petrea Burchard said...

They had a spa event, too, Margaret. I was bummed I didn't get to go to that. You want to go to a book signing at a spa.

Susan Campisi said...

Oh! My coworker, Courtney Brillhart, took the photos for this book. Just last week she brought it in and I had the pleasure of leafing through it. It's a beautiful book. It's such an interesting idea to explore LA cultures through massage. And what a delicious treat.

Brenda Goldstein said...

Thanks Margaret! It was great fun doing the research! Let us know which spa you go to and what you think!

Petrea Burchard said...

Susan, that is so cool. I love how this stuff interconnects.

John Sandel said...

Is it actually possible to step into the pages of this book & arrive magically at the destinations shon? It looks that inviting.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

This is pure genius. For a complete neophyte - can you tell me if price range is included .....and tipping?

Brenda Goldstein said...

Yes! Price range is included as well as tips on tipping. In fact, we have a whole chapter on "Spa Etiquette" that is straight forward and gives you some great suggestions, for before and after your massage!

Petrea Burchard said...

JS, If I could step into a book and go to a spa, I'd be getting a massage every day. This is the next best thing.

Thanks for the tipping tips, too, Brenda. That's one of the things that confuses me the most.

Laurie said...

Oh, this is brilliant! I'm getting this one for myself for Christmas. Ho ho ho!

Bellis said...

Ah, spa etiquette! That's important to know, and it's what's put me off going to one of those places. I wonder if it's as complicated as casino etiquette?

My daughter loves spas, so the book will make a great Xmas gift for her. Thank you for all your research - it must have been so stressful to have checked out all those massages. :o)

Petrea Burchard said...

When folks are taking their clothes off in a professional situation, there have to be rules of engagement, as it were. It's nice to have the rules spelled out.

I have no idea about casino etiquette. Is there casino etiquette? Is it different in Monte Carlo than it is in Las Vegas? Fascinating.

On Bellis's note of thanks I will add mine. I didn't get a massage today so I'll have to be satisfied with turning in early.

Brenda, Gail, thank you for joining us today. It's been a pleasure! Your book is lovely.

Katie said...

Fabulous idea for a book! Very unique way to get to know different LA neighborhoods, and find the perfect spa. I had a Thai massage in Bangkok once that was really painful (did I ask for rolfing by mistake?) but I was in heaven during the hour-long foot massage.

Brenda Goldstein said...

Thank you all! It was a great experience writing this book - we LOVED doing the research - and we hope that our insights and ideas will be helpful to you too! Keep reading and be prepared so you can enjoy the massage! Happy Holidays!

Shama Kern said...

Yes Thai Massage is different. When I first came to Bangkok I tried it out and instantly fell in love with it. I am still hooked 14 years later, and it has remained my favorite massage system.
In response to a previous comment about Thai Massage being painful, you really have to tell the therapist to ease up a bit, and then it can be very pleasant.