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Fragrant thoughts

April 2009
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It’s April again; the time of year when the Monsoon seems undecided on where it’s coming from, or going to. Thunderstorms lurk grumbling, just beyond the horizon. There’s not even a whisper of a suggestion of a breeze to disturb the sleepy palms and the humidity is off the graph. It’s the damned humidity! It’s the tropics; the stifling, steaming, dripping hell that jungle movies are made of. In this saturated atmospheric sauna horses ‘sweat’, gentlemen ‘perspire’ and ladies, well, ‘glow’. The effort of towelling off after your shower is enough to start the whole damp process, all over again. There isn’t much you can do about it, unless you incarcerate yourself in an air-conditioned cell for the duration – not an option for most of us. The traditional Thai solution is to make a virtue out of necessity, and apply aromatic essences to strategic pulse points, which not only calms the psyche, but makes you ‘nice to know’. I’m being as delicate as I can be, here!

Choosing which fragrance is, for some, as simple as picking a nice-looking bottle which is affordable, dabbing it on, and leaving the rest to Mother Nature. Thais are, however, much more scientific about the whole selection process. We believe that the human body is composed of four elements – Earth, Water, Wind and Fire.

The Earth element is made up of the solid bits – everything from hair, nails and teeth, through to hearts, lungs and brains. The Water element is related to the, um, watery bits like blood. The Wind element has nothing to do with the digestive system, but covers the circulatory force of life. Fire, finally, represents the energy and heat which give us our vigour. The theory is that as long as the elements are in balance, we’re healthy. If we’re stressed out, overtired, or neglectful of the demands of our beliefs, then the body reacts by becoming sick.

Normally, one element will be dominant. Which one, depends mainly upon the time of year when you’re born. For people delivered in November, December and January, the Earth element is the strongest: February, March and April, it’s Fire; May, June and July, it’s Wind; and August, September and October, it’s Water.

Now you’re probably asking, impatiently, “What’s all this metaphysical stuff got to do with perfume?” I’m about to get to this precise point, directly.

It seems that choosing a fragrance which is in synch with your dominant element promotes serenity, calm and tranquillity. Olfactory ‘horses for courses’. Here’s a quick reference to what aromatic essences go with what element:

  • Earth: nutmeg, zingiber cassumunar (zingiberaceae), elephant grass, borneol (borneo oil)
  • Water: gum benjamin, sweet basil, ylang-ylang, (cananga odorata), lavender
  • Wind: orange, curcuma, kaffir lime, peppermint
  • Fire: clove, ginger, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary

On Phuket, there’s no shortage of places to buy such products, and plenty of spas which will be happy to do the application and rubbing in, in pleasant surroundings, for a small consideration. For a guide to the best Spas, please see the relevant section in this periodical. Alternatively, allow us to point you in the direction of a couple of first-class retailers.

Condé Nast award-winning Lemongrass House in Cherngtalay supplies many of the top spas and makes a huge range of different aromatics, fragrances, oils, creams, gels and soaps. It's run by Bobby Duchowny, an aromatherapist who is always delighted to assist in selecting the right product for you.

Montra Sense is on the second floor of Homeworks Mall opposite Central Festival. There you’ll meet the charming proprietor, Khun Bee. The place is stylish, and pleasing scents are in the air. They’re professional designers, manufacturers and exporters of hand-rolled aromatic incense and pure essential oils.

Be cool!

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