Thai Mass-‘Ouch’

06.January 2010

Thailand

The massage platform is on the beach with soft sand leading up to it and, when the tide is high, the waves lap underneath in a calm, rhythmic pattern. Dappled sunlight filters through the palm trees and the scent of tiger balm is carried on the breeze as the Thai girls call out to all who pass ‘mass-age, would you like a mass-age’ in their lilting voices.

It’s hard not to give in to the call. At home, a massage costs upwards of $60 for an hour whereas here it’s a measly $9! We have seen massages offered throughout all of our travels but kept telling ourselves that we would wait for the infamous Thai massage so, as soon as we got to the beach, we made a beeline for the platform.

Massage Platform, Koh Pha-Ngan It all starts out nice enough, with a soft mattress and a pretty draped sarong, but before too long I am writhing in pain as the once-kind-and-gentle masseuse digs her elbows into my back and I realize that this is no spa experience. In fact Thai massage is not supposed to be like getting a massage at the spa. It is based on energy channels, pressure points and stretching…and it can be painful.

Massage, Koh Pha-Ngan-2 She starts by pressing gently but firmly all down my back and legs and then slowly increases the pressure and the pointed-ness of the pressure until she finds a knot. Then I know I am in for it. Next, she works on the knot with her extremely strong fingers until it’s released or I beg her to stop.

She is small, but deceptively strong, and can bring me to my knees with one hand tied behind her back…luckily she is also very kind and constantly asks if I am okay and offers to make it ‘less strong’…I  take her up on the offer.

Massage, Koh Pha-Ngan-6 J seems to be even more manipulated than I am. I open my eyes to see his masseuse standing on him pulling his arms and legs in various directions, or twisting him into various impossible positions and then ‘helping’ him to stretch. He communicates with her using grunts and groans as she giggles and seems to get some perverse pleasure in delivering the pain.

When it’s all over we both lie there, exhausted even though we haven’t done anything. She gives us some instructions for stretching later and we drag ourselves to our deckchairs to recover.

On the way to breakfast the next morning we pass by her platform. She calls out and asks if we are ‘kaput’…we respond that ‘oh yes, we are kaput’…and promptly make an appointment for the next morning…it’s addictive.

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7 Responses to “Thai Mass-‘Ouch’”

  1. Mom & Dad Says:

    Just got back from my daily exercise and it sounds very much the same,although mine is self inflicted also minus the sun and sand

  2. Holly Says:

    When I took the Thai massage course, we were told that it is also known as ‘Yoga for Lazy People’… there could not be a better definition.
    I highly reccommend going to the School of Thai Massage in Chiang Mai, if not to take the course, but to at least get a massage by one of their faculty… get the 3 hour one, trust me! I found that after I experimented with a number of different Thai masseuses in Thailand, that these guys in Chiang Mai were the bomb!
    Beware of some of the masseuses in your travels they can cause some damage because they really do not know what they are doing…. even if they have a certificate. (trust me, I know, because I have a certificate and I could probably seriously hurt someone if I tried).
    I am glad to hear you guys are having a great time.
    Hugs.

  3. Keith Says:

    Sounds like my kind of mass-age. I’m adding it to the list ;)

  4. Gareth Says:

    The (in)famous Thai massage is something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s been a tough few weeks at work pre-departure so I should be nicely knotted up when I hit Thailand in a few weeks time.

    Who knows, we might even bump into you guys along the way. I’ll keep checking your progress. Keep up the great blogs.

  5. Lisa Says:

    I had 5 Thai massages in total and even though the beach platform got points for atmosphere, the best massage was in Chiang Mai where we happened to get the instructor himself. We just had one in Luang Prabang, and I would skip getting one there, it was terrible, and we met other people that were on the slow boat with us that agreed.

  6. Dawn Says:

    Ah, nothing like being tied up like a pretzel by an 85# Thai woman! Loved it!

  7. Tracy Says:

    It really is amazing how strong they are! The first time we were in Thailand we had to get a massage every other day! Glad to see that you are enjoying Thailand!