It was, like most things I’ve done here, a somewhat surreal experience. Being a foreigner here automatically reduces my IQ by about 10 pts., I think I lose another 20 pts. for not knowing the language. So basically if I have about average intelligence in the
Anyway, I walk in the door and ask for a massage. “Old lady?” the manager asks “Old lady.” I confirm. I ask “How much?” and they point towards the door which has a complete price list in English and
Eventually I come back out and lie down on the mat…the wrong way of course. But no problem, she motions for me to lie on my back first and I’m catching on here – I do so. What happens next is no question the most literal interpretation of a full-body massage I could imagine. Not only am I getting the full treatment (well, the full old-lady treatment that is), but the whole process is somewhat… collaborative… for want of a better word. It’s a lot more like physical therapy than the relaxing massages I’ve gotten in spas at home. There’s a lot of contorting and stretching and pounding. The masseuse uses her hands & arms, but also elbows, knees, legs, feet, etc. At one point I’m lying on my back, knee bent kinda out to one side, and she puts both her feet on my inner thigh, she grabs my foot and pulls back. At another point when I was lying on my stomach she was kneeling on my butt, and I’m pretty sure she was walking on my legs for a while. That woman earned her pay tonight.
Did it feel good? Um. Not especially. I mean, the stretching was probably really good for me, there were some yoga-esque moves that I’m sure loosened me up in beneficial ways, but it was not very relaxing. Being overweight & out of shape made the whole thing rather awkward… she was trying to move me into certain positions my body just can’t achieve. So she’d laugh… and I’d laugh… and there you go. One of the weirder hours of my life. But, it was cheap – less than $10 and it’s worth that much just to add it to the collection of things I’ve experienced here.
Tonight I made it over to the night market next door early enough for a foot massage though, and that was a lot less sureal. It helped that there was a whole row of people getting massages so I could watch them and see what was going to happen next. There's a part of the whole scenario that just feels weird. I mean, there's this whole row of women (and it's always women) rubbing on people's feet. But I looked around and there were more Thai people getting massages than farangs... so I figured it okay. The girl rubbing my feet looked about 14... which means she was probably closer to about 20. People look YOUNG here. I thought most of my class was in their early 20s - college aged, but later found out that one of the 'kids' was actually 32 - only a year younger than me!
Anyway, the foot massage involved far less contorting than the full-body massage, but it was still a bit on the rough side... they really work the pressure points & try to get your Chi moving. Or something... I'm still completely clueless on the theory behind Thai massage. At the end they actually start punching your legs & feet... not hard, but still. Overall though,, 90% of it felt really good, and the chair was so comfortable I almost fell asleep at one point. And it was only about $4... so I'll be going back.