Yesterday, Tuesday 12 April 2011, marked the 100th time I went to “Mandi Wap Herbal” with my good friend, former classmate Zainal Abidin Imam of Kuala Kubu Bahru.
We started going to the Herbal Sauna at Tanjung Karang about a year back when Zainal was diagnosed with minor stroke and lost his ability to speak. He suffers speech impedance.
Other than the IJN he is a frequent visitor of the Kuala Kubu Bahru Hospital, the Selayang Hospital and at time the KL Hospital. He also began to look for alternative medicine to get into normal shape. His younger brother took him to this place in Tanjung Karang simply named “Mandi Wap Herbal” (Herbal Sauna). It is a simple place sharing roof with a defunct motor workshop, along the main coastal road to the right side as we approached Tanjung Karang town from KL. The official address is: Lot 88, Batu 7, 45500 Tanjung Karang.
Zainal suggested that I tagged along and we have been around together for nearly a year. I went along for the company. I came to like the 75 km journey between my place and the Sauna where we spent endless hours chatting.
I was on medication for prostate and diabetes. The medicine was affecting my stability and I began to stop my normal routine of walking to sweat. I could feel my physical appearance bloating. I find the Sauna beneficial in getting rid of the toxic through the heavy sweating.
Most of the driving was done by Zainal, being his favourite pastime. Initially he drove from KKB to my place spending the night at his son or in-law’s place. Later when his jalopy was giving problem due to old age we decided to go in my car. Later on Zainal found it less tiresome driving from KKB by taking the KTM Komuter that has increased its frequency. Normally he will embark and disembark at Sungai Buloh station. I will pick him up and travelled via the busy old road. If he decided to head straight to Subang Jaya we would go via the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) and saved some minutes. Otherwise we would take the long stretch via Puncak Alam with nice sceneries of the new housing areas but the traffic lights there were a bother for smooth travelling.
Our normal pit stop would be at Kuala Selangor where we would have Banana Leaf Lunch of either Indian rice or “tosay” at the Mahaa India Curry House. We are always welcome with open arm by the owner, a friendly lady whom we dubbed “Amma” and his able assistant. Normally the lunch for two with fish, chicken, vegetables and 2 drinks thrown in would be around RM12.00.
In the early days we would be at the Mandi Wap Herbal almost daily making sure we meet the operator Mr Jabar who would be around between 5 and 6 pm. Due to poor eye sights we avoid going there at night. Nowadays we prefer the afternoon shift arriving there between 1 and 2 pm and leaving before 4 pm, to avoid the rush hour.
For the inquisitive, Mandi Wap Herbal is simply Sauna with Herbs. Jabar operate one moderate size room with sitting terrace and normal chairs that can accommodate about 25 people easily. Steam laced with herbs would be pump in from the stove in the next room where a huge pot is heated by normal household gas. Temperature would be control from there by his assistant Ms Ani who seems to be around the place almost all the time.
Patrons are advised not to overdo being in the Sauna Room for more than an hour at a stretch. Most of us would stay not more than 30 minutes for the first stretch and would take a break in the resting place next door to cool down for a few minutes. Drinking of water or beverages is permitted. Then we would take in another session of 15 or 20 minutes, repeating once or twice again before quitting.
It takes a few minutes to get the sweat out of the body. The men are advised to wear shorts and everyone should bring a small towel to wipe off the profusion of sweat. A plastic is handy to place the wet towel, shorts, singlet or t-shirts at the end.
As for the fees, the place charge 25 sen for entrance. Should anyone leave the place and re-enter then he has to put in another 25 sen. Out of curiosity I asked Mr Jabar what he does with the collections. He said he normally gave it to charitable organisation around town. For the Mandi Wap the charge is RM 15.00 per person per session. I did a rough calculation, I think it’s just enough to sustain the operations, taking into account the cost of the gas that come in tanks, rental of premises, electricity and water charges, helpers and assistants salaries, maintenance and unseen costs. Mr Jabar must have set this place up as social responsibility rather than making a profit.
After a year of frequenting the place, I notice there have been improvements in cleanliness and upgrading of facilities. Previously the changing and rest room has to be shared by the men and ladies causing disgruntled. Now the men got a brand new one at the back of the place on the outside which is more spacious and the toilet is sitting type unlike the old one.
Most of the patrons look forward to meet the jovial Mr Jabar. When he is around he offers what he called the “repair job”, some sort of “accue pressure” where he would look for the pressure points in one’s body using a little wood. I think the Chinese called it “fixing the Chi point”. Well, it worked on many patrons who seem satisfied after the treatment. This treatment comes together with the Mandi Wap Herbal as one’s wish. Zainal and I forego this treatment lately as we leave the place well before Mr. Jabar arrived.
Our verdict on the Mandi Wap – Zainal is pleased to see his health improving. His speech is getting better. The only thing that didn’t go away is the three blockages that he is having. The IJN was willing to allow him to continue with his medication rather than going for the surgery. As for me I find that I feel lighter and more agile. The lethargic part has departed sometime back. I think the sweating was responsible for that.