First timers guide to Thai massage

Mike - 12 November 2016

I’d never paid to have a professional massage before and wasn’t even sure what a Thai massage was. All I knew was a few basic points Emma had told me:

  1. It wasn’t going to be like a relaxing western massage. Instead, it would be more like yoga, but with with the yoga being done to me rather than me having to actually do any of the hard work.
  2. I didn’t have to take my clothes off...

We’d been in Thailand for a week and found ourselves with our first day to relax after a busy schedule. We were staying in Jolly Frog backpackers hostel in Kanchanaburi and right next door was a passage parlour offering Thai massages for 150 Baht / hour. This would mean that a one hour massage for both of us would cost about $8.50 USD (£7.50). We decided to treat ourselves and go for it.

First impressions were positive. We were led to a room with four mattresses laid directly on the floor. The whole room was clean and fresh with relaxing music playing softly in the background and the scent of essential oils in the air. After each randomly selecting a mattress and lying down, we were told that our masseuses would be with us in about 5 minutes. Being left alone in the room I surveyed my surroundings and observed a privacy curtain which while currently not in use, could be drawn around the mattresses individually. I turned to Emma and double checked - “I definitely get to keep my clothes on right?”.

Our masseuses arrived slightly apart and Emma’s massage began a few minutes before mine. This gave me the opportunity to observe what was involved at the start of the hour which appeared to be a nice gentle foot rub. When my massage began, I realised this wasn’t so nice and gentle. Either that, or I have surprisingly tender feet...

The first ten minutes of the massage were used by the friendly masseuse to prove that she had ridiculously strong fingers, using my feet and legs as evidence. I started to relax. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of th methodical pummelling. My occasional wincing led her to double check that I was in actually fact enjoying it. I didn’t quite catch her question, but Emma who was experiencing her own pummelling to my left, repeated “You like it hard?”.My slightly foolish, English response was “Yes. Very good. Nice and hard”.

The masseuse then lifted up one of my legs, bending it at the knee and placed it on the far side of my other leg. She gradually began rocking my leg, rolling it over to the other side of my body. After a few rocking motions she said “Won” and pushed my leg rather further than I thought it could or should go. Wincing, but not quite comprehending what she had said, I started to clarify. Before I could muster a proper sentence, she said “Two” and once again forced my knee towards the floor. At this point I realised with trepadition that there was likely to be a three at the end of this. As she said “Three” my knee touched the floor on the opposite side of my body, accompanied by an astonishing symphony of spinal cracks. Either due to these sounds of my body’s disintegration, or the uncontrolled yelping noise I made, Emma started to laugh. As did both of the masseuses. They were mother and daughter duo, and given that I had the elder of the two I’m convinced that I was given the more brutal massage.

The massage (and the laughing at my expense) continued for a full hour, gradually manipulating different parts of my person into stress positions. Throughout the hour my body continued to make cracking noises, much to Emma’s amusement. In return, my entertainment was that while the two women were talking to each other in Thai, they kept saying something which sounded like “Okay, Done”. Emma repeatedly responded this by saying “thank you” and getting up to leave. Each time she was told that they hadn’t finished yet!  

If you are thinking of having a Thai massage I would highly recommend it. Despite my complaining, I did feel better for it once the initial trauma had subsided. Massages in Thailand are very affordable and if you disappear slightly down a side street, even better deals are to be had.