There are many things that people revel in while living in Thailand, either losing themselfves in a singular pursuit or peppering their existence with traces of hedonism: food, beaches, diving, rock climbing, meditation, yoga, and even (so I’m told) girls. I’ve tried most of these – meditation is okay but after about 45 seconds I start to wonder if anyone’s sent me an email; diving is fun; food, well, clearly that’s not a problem for me. But there’s one of these little bliss-sicles that everyone raves about; that occupy hours of my friends’ days and cause people to travel far and wide in search of it and even to train in its methods. It is also one thing that I simply do not get and go to great lengths to avoid: Thai massage.
I don’t know why I don’t like it. It’s steeped in history and I like a gentle rubbing as much as the next guy (shaddup, you know what I mean). And while the idea of someone rubbing my muscles while I sleep isn’t repellent in and of itself, to actually go through the process is a whole other story.
My first Thai massage was many years ago at a place on Sukhumvit 49 called Dr Feet, apparently one of the best in the area. I was looking forward to the experience, and the energy I would no doubt have as I bounded out the door when it was over, my muscles rejuvenated and bursting with vim. One hour later, as I hobbled down the steps and limped up the soi, I wondered if I had simply had a bad masseuse.
Every six months or so over the years a friend has talked me into going. This guy’s good, I promise, they say. Trust me, she knows what she’s doing, I’m told. And, as usual, I’m left limping up the street when it’s done, on my way to buy muscle relaxants and 350 baht lighter.
Against my better judgement, I went with my lady down to a very reputable place last weekend and sprung for a private room for the two of us. She was feeling a bit sore and had no one to go with, so me being a good guy, decided to give it my annual go. What a mistake. The masseuse herself was fine, very skilled, but when I tried to sleep, she woke me up either by kneeling on my back or arm, or telling me to move this way or that. Bending my joints past their natural range of confortable motion seemed to delight her in some Machiavellian way, and I spent the better part of 2 hours wondering if I’d forefeit my machismo and/or hurt her feelings if I simply told her to go away so I could nap.
At any rate, an hour later I was at the mall drugstore, looking for some Tylenol and vowing next time to save the money and just head home for a soft corner of my comfortable bed, where pulled muscles are mercifully rare.