Sometimes it is good to get away from it all for a while and just relax. Penang has plenty to offer in the way of massage, meditation and floating to let you escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take some time for yourself.
Reflexology and massage can help to relieve pain and stress, induce a deep state of relaxation, and increase energy flow in the body. Every shopping mall from Prangin Mall to Gurney Paragon has reflexology (foot massage) places, prices start at a very reasonable level, but you get what you pay for, not necessarily in the quality of the massage, but in the trimmings and salubriousness of the environment.
Within the George Town heritage zone area, Step Foot Treatment specializes in foot massage and the treatment of callouses and gets good reviews. You can find it at 8C Carnarvon Street. Call 04-262 2032 to make a booking if it is a busy period. For foot or full-body massage Transit Spa at 398c Chulia Street is a cheap and cheerful option, or Legacy Spa at 52 Love Lane. But there are many, many other options.
Thai Massage is very good and very popular in Penang, perhaps because of the closeness of the Thai border. There are two reputable chains to choose from, as well as several independent operators. Thai Odyssey has three outlets on the island, within the shopping malls of Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon and Straits Quay. Details about their services are available on their website http://thaiodyssey.com/m/index.php. Imperial Thai has outlets in George Town itself, at Jalan Pintal Tali and on Burma Road, as well as in the Vantage shopping mall. Contact details for the main outlet on Burmah Road are 04-227 2266 and www.facebook.com/Imperialthaipg.
For top of the range pampering, Panpuri Organic Spa at the E&O Hotel offers
total indulgence, with packages of treatments lasting up to four hours, and a full range of facials, massages and body treatments. The spa menu and other information can be found at http://www.eohotels.com/spa.php. Similarly, the Rasa Sayang Hotel in Batu Ferringghi provides luxurious treatments in its Chi Spa villas within the hotel’s gardens http://www.shangri-la.com/penang/rasasayangresort/chi-the-spa/.
Penang is one of the few places in the region where you can experience floating. Floating has been called “the closest thing to drifting in outer space that you can experience on this planet.” Everything is kept at skin temperature, making it impossible to tell where your body ends and the water begins. Each float room is thoroughly sound-proofed, and you float in complete darkness. Floating reduces muscle tension and enables your body to absorb minerals which are crucial for a healthy functioning body. Float for Health’s luxury centre, is located within the Vantage shopping mall. More information can be found at www.floatforhealth.com. Reservation is essential. Contact +6012 345 6049 or email@example.com.
With its thriving Buddhist community, Penang also has much to offer in the way of meditation. Many meditation
centres offer practice sessions and workshops, assisting people to train their minds to return to the present and become more centred, to dissipate the stress and rediscover joy and peace of mind. Urban Zen is an offshoot of Haeng Won Zen Centre which was founded by a Malaysian monk who spent 17 years practicing Zen in Korea. It operates from a centre inside the Times Square shopping mall. Workshops and practice sessions are free of charge although donations are welcomed. More information is available at www.facebook.com/haengwonzen or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brahma Kumaris Malaysia was established in Malaysia in 1981, and has more than 50 centres. They regularly organise lectures, exhibitions, workshops and seminars on topics related to self-development, positive thinking, stress management, anger management, values and self-management. At the Meditation Museum and Centre on Jalan Kebun Bunga, entrance and meditation lessons are free of charge. Contact 013-4301229 or email@example.com. Their website is www.brahmakumaris.my
There are also a number of meditation retreats available in Penang for those interested in an extended period of seclusion. One such is Vipassana Malaysia (http://www.malaya.dhamma.org/) which holds 10 day introductory courses at its centre up in the hills overlooking George Town. The schedule is on its website and more information can be obtained at firstname.lastname@example.org. Courses are run on a donation basis.