Walking down the street in Bangkok, two businesses rise far beyond the others in terms of frequency: restaurants and massage parlors. Restaurants we’ve spent a lot of time talking about (and we’ll spend much more), but massages have provided necessary respite from many of our weary days.
The sign outside a traditional massage parlor gives a list of the services on offer: Thai Massage, Foot Massage, Oil Massage, Aroma Therapy Massage, Gel Massage, etc. On our first day in Bangkok, the three of us decided to duck into a nearby place for a rub-down. It was what we found to be a typical layout in our area – a small desk on the first floor collected the payment, then you took your shoes off (to be respectful in Thai homes and other places), and walked up the stairs to the treatment rooms. For the next hour, we were slicked up and gently worked on, the oil preventing any particularly tough muscle manipulations. I was offered a shower at the end to get the oil off. Brad and Kavitha weren’t, and we slipped and slid in our sandals back to our hotel. Not an experience we looked forward to again.
The next day, we got our first of many subsequent traditional Thai massages. Thankfully, no oil is involved, but indeed, that doesn’t mean that things aren’t up close and personal. Thai massage involves the masseuse using their body to manipulate yours, in an hour-long demonstration of physics and levers using your body and their knees, elbows, etc.
They give you some simple pajamas to wear as a uniform during the treatment (and as one size fits all, my shirt fit was quite “European”, if you know what I mean). The masseuse starts at your legs, and by bending, rubbing, pulling, stretching, tweaking, and rotating the muscles and joints, makes you feel like you rolled fresh off of the assembly line. To work on your back, the masseuse climbs up on top of you and walks around, using the balls and heels of her feet to specifically target key pressure spots. It’s heavenly.
Kavitha’s favorite part is when they sink their elbows into your shoulders repeatedly and then pull up on your chin to straighten you out and pull back your arms to crack your back.
Brad repeatedly complains that there’s never enough neck and shoulders action for him, but now that he’s sunburned, that’s no longer a problem.
The overall massage count is now well over 10, and there’ll surely be more to come. The best part? An expensive one is B300 ($10) – less if you shop around!