Back in the days when I used to live in Sydney, I hurt my hip really badly somehow – what, with all the accidents I have in my everyday life, what else could be expected? Nothing kinky, so the joke is on you! When the time came to pay AU$45 for a Chinese massage, it seemed a small price to pay in exchange for the free movement of my leg without considering amputation.
That is why I couldn’t help but grow suspicious when my friend and I encountered a poster advertising half an hour of Thai massage for 100 Bahts (US$ 3) outside a crowded building in the heart of Chinatown, Bangkok. It was our first day in Thailand, we didn’t know the area nor where to get a proper Thai massage yet our hearts were set on getting one, so we followed the sign through an aisle that led us to a main hall that accommodated a number of business stalls.
Upon heading to the stall that advertised the Thai massage we were after, the merchant signalled her colleague to take us to the vestibule or so we thought. Instead, we followed the lady who didn’t utter a word in English to a lift, went up and then the doors opened to a vast floor upstairs. She took us through one dodgy aisle to another propelling me to think This is where they kidnap us and hold us for ransom. While I was silently calculating how much I was worth or whether anybody would bother to pay a dime for my freedom, the nice mute lady opened the door to a large room in which half a dozen of massage tables lined one of the walls.
Once the nice small lady had spoken to the man at the front desk, my friend asked if we could get female masseurs impelling both Thai individuals in front of us to narrow their eyes and shake their heads in incomprehension. The guy repeated what he thought he heard which sounding like gibberish to our ears. “Woman,” my friend said exasperatedly, pointing at both of us. “Girls, female.” Confusion reigned amongst our Thai hosts who kept repeating words that were nowhere near a Christian language. The impossibility of communication sparked a series of equally amusing and embarrassing gestures that concluded in our friend leading the way outside, in what seemed to be an attempt to avoid molestation. We were already out the door when they called us back repeating the word “woman” while nodding in comprehension. Oh, now you get it!
Waiting for my turn was a no less frightening task as I heard a man behind a curtain groan in pain… or was he moaning in pleasure? I grinned maliciously to myself until it dawned on me that I had no desire to lie on a spa bed used for that purpose. Before I could dwell on that thought much longer, I was directed to a massage bed in the corner. A young, gracious Thai masseur started pulling, rubbing and squeezing my limbs resulting in the most pleasurable experience.
The loud male voice, however, kept on groaning although this time the noises were distinct exclamations of pain. I thought of a word that started with a “p”, dismissed him and proceeded to enjoy the glorious massage. While lying utterly relaxed on my tummy, the sudden weight on my buttocks brought me back to my senses. While it is common knowledge that masseurs get on top of you while performing a Thai massage, a nagging pain in the pit of my stomach made me aware that the dreadful moment of pain I had anticipated was about to follow. The masseurs grabbed both my arms and pulled them all the way back. Despite my tense state and stiffness, the dreaded moment of excruciating pain never came and was replaced instead by the blissful sensation stretching muscles brings about. After that experience, I had many more massages from all over Thailand and while they were either more expensive or in better-looking stores, none matched the first one.
Whereas I enjoyed every minute of the Thai massage, my friend couldn’t say the same. She might have enjoyed it, yet she found it painful as well. “She was tiny but deadly,” my friend said referring to the masseur, inciting me to chuckle. Why, I never said friendship stops me from laughing at others’ misery. I know it doesn’t stop my friends either.
Our massage quest drove us to get one almost every day. I can safely recommend the ones along Khao San Road, particularly if you are interested in people-watching outside while getting a much-needed foot massage after walking all day long.
If you happen to visit Kanchanaburi and would like to get a massage after visiting the WWII museums and the Hellfire Pass Memorial, I’d recommend indulging yourself in the pleasures offered by Sawan Massage – there it is cheaper than in Bangkok and the massages are worthy of a song by Bryan Adams.
Krabi is also a good place to get a massage, despite the strange experience I had there. While I was lying on the spa bed, I was disrupted by the very loud moaning of man from the end of the hall conveniently hidden by a curtain.
Okay, it’s nice… WE GET IT! I thought to myself annoyed, unable to get anymore satisfaction from the massage lest having the guilty feeling of partaking in an orgy.
As a seemingly cruel defiance to my thoughts, the groaning grew exponentially until it climaxed in a deep exhalation. In a matter of seconds, the masseurs headed to a water dispenser and curtains were drawn revealing a middled-aged white man standing up while heavily panting.
I’ll be dammed. Was that a Thai massage with a… happy ending?
I might have as well given my money to charity since my mind wasn’t aware of any senses but that of hearing while lying on the spa bed. Compelled by my curiosity, I paid attention to the individuals in question until it lead me to his voice at the front speaking to… drumroll please… his wife. Naturally, there was no happy ending, except for the one that took place in my prurient imagination, although I kept wondering how comfortable his wife felt while hearing those noises. I would have throttled him.
We didn’t get the chance to have an oil massage, but if you do, beware that you have to be naked and that it might be somewhat uncomfortable. On the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, we met an American lady who had one. She told us that she was enjoying the massage until the masseur cupped her breasts – which is part of the routine. Instantly, the American lady flinched sparking giggles in the Thai masseur.
So the moral of this story is that nothing is what it seems, at least to me, and that if you happen to visit Thailand, you shouldn’t give massages a miss. It is so much considerably cheaper to get a massage in Thailand than in the Western world, and they are so incredibly pleasurable, you’ll feel like you have been touched by an angel.