Broke a few ribs, slipped a few discs and got body slammed in the crotch.
Ahhh I went for my first Thai massage.
The Torturous Thai Massage of 2018
As I mentioned in Touch Me, I’ve had more than my fair share of massages over the years and by far the best I’ve found is Zee Holistics. Not only does she not touch me inappropriately, she knows exactly where the tension is and throws a little bit of reiki magic in at the end for free.
With my neck still bent at right angles after an awkward air plane snooze, I was in need serious of a rub down, but with her hands eleven thousand miles away I had to find another masseuse.
As instructed by Gina, I walked a few minutes along a road full of whizzing mopeds and banged out vehicles, past a parade of small shops selling nuts and fruits and I was there.
I took a moment to look at the tacky red sandwich sign and one above the door with Thai writing and underneath an English translation saying Thai Massage, Oil Massage, Foot Massage and smiled. I was so glad I’d never tried one of these anywhere else in the world before.
The Jack Nicholson Incident
The lady beckoned me in with her Thai smile and we spoke to each other in languages neither of us understand as she marched me past the two massage tables, one with a local guy on, being karate chopped on the left leg. She shoved me into a little changing cubicle, spoke at me in syllables I’ve never heard before and closed the curtain.
A little bit bewildered I put my bag down and looked around. In that cubicle there was a denim jacket hanging on the wall with bejewelled pockets and on the tall standing wicker table was a pair of bright green fisherman’s trousers and a cream, lose fitting buttoned top.
Now for all the massages I’ve ever had before, I strip off. I’m either totally naked or keep my knickers on, so I was a little bit worried that these were the man’s clothes I was about to walk out in. Luckily, I knew not to wear the denim jacket too.
And this was not the first time I have exited a changing cubicle and been ridiculed.
A few years ago, I went in for a routine breast scan and was sent into a cubicle to change into my gown. Looking back, it was pretty obvious that as they were only scanning the top part of my body so I could have quite easily left my jeans, socks and shoes on. But no. I stripped off totally naked, put the hospital gown on backwards like Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give so that my bum was on show to the world and tip toed into the busy waiting room to a choir of chuckles.
Anyway, I walked around the corner and stood in front of them all, kind of like a little kid showing off their new outfit and looking for approval. They erupted into laughter. My masseuse smacked herself on the forehead with the palm of her hand, started shouting at me excitedly in Thai, grabbed me by the arms, turned me around and marched me back into that changing room to dress me properly.
Jep! Jep! Jep!
We got started by me lying on the bed face up in savasana position, smiling one of those smiles that is so confused with emotion that it twitches around a little before settling into one place.
The masseuse jumped onto the table, grabbed me by both ankles, lifted my legs into the air then slammed them back down on the table hip-width apart.
Aaaaaand we’re off.
She sat in between my legs and got her thumbs ready for action, kneading my left calf like it was a piece of fresh dough.
The third word or phrase I’ve learned in Thai, after sawadee ka and khob khun krab, is jep – which means pain. So after shouting jep a few times and her giggling at my pathetic weakness, she lowered the pressure down to something just about manageable and the kneading continued. First my calves, then my thighs, then my toes, finishing each session of kneading off with a nice few heavy slaps.
One thing I’ve always been surprised by during meditation is that it’s only when you consciously let your muscles relax, you realise just how much tension you’ve been carrying in every part of your body. The same goes for pain. Until you have a petite little Thai lady pounding your legs with her meat cleaver fists, you don’t realise how tender and tight your muscles are, or how much pain they carry.
And just like dealing with mental pain, the best thing to do is to sit with it, endure it, accept it and let it go.
Yoga for Slobs
After beating my legs up, she moved further up the table between my legs, grabbed my ankles and started hurling herself backwards, body slamming me in the crotch. At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh, and she giggled too.
The next minute, she’d twirled around and was now facing me, still holding my ankles above her shoulders and booting me in the bum with her ankles. I’d have to say my favourite move was probably when she stood on the table, grabbed my ankle and charged at me until my knee was touching my forehead.
It was yoga for slobs; I ended up in all sorts of positions and just kept feeling thankful that I’m relatively supple so it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system. Jokes aside, it is actually assisted yoga as Thai massage finds its roots in the yoga tradition and is heavily influenced by other ancient teachings of India, China and South East Asia.
She moved further up my body and carried on with the kneading and slap combo, first my bum cheeks and then up to my arms. The pain was really excruciating at times, but I kept the focus and just let it be – although I did start wondering whether the term Happy Ending just refers to the fact that the torture is over.
While this was all going on the guy next to me was still being battered by his masseuse. She was really going for it, leaping up into the air and doing some sort of wrestling move on his back then proceeding to trample all over it. To him the whole experience seemed to be so run-of-the-mill that he sat there casually watching Thai Lad Bible videos on his phone with a look of complete and utter nonchalance strewn across his face. There was even one point, when she was punching him in the sternum and I could hear his peaceful snores.
One thing I can say for sure, is Thai people clearly have suppleness, strength and stamina.
The Feel-Good Finale
Finally it was time to turn me over and get to work on my back, where I can handle the pressure.
Her elbows furrowed beneath my shoulder blades, she pushed her fingers and thumbs deep into the muscles and pummelled my spine. It was incredible, I could have laid there forever and kept wishing for it to not be over and luckily it wasn’t over quite yet. She woke me up from my sadistic, pain-loving trance and turned me over for the feel-good finale;a head, neck and shoulder massage from heaven.
When the two hours was up, I sat there sipping my candyfloss flavoured tea, feeling revitalised, relaxed and a little bit abused.
I lay back down and could feel the tingling sensation of blood flowing around my body. I could feel the toxins seeping out of my muscles. I could feel serotonin making its way through my veins and lighting up my face with an adopted Thai smile.
So to the leader-board of weird and wonderful massages, along side The Great Anal Probation of 2014 and the Polish Tit Massage of 2011, I’ve now added the Torturous Thai.