It was shortly before 4 o’clock. I was sitting in my favourite bar
sipping an iced latte. I had an appointment on the other side of
town. I’d booked a massage. It’s not something I do very often. To
be honest, the memory of the pain lingers longer than that of the
pleasure. Still, there’s a nice, clean place on the edge of the river
where one can be massaged in a sala (open-sided pavilion) that came
highly recommended. The weather looked ominous. I was therefore
looking forward to being pummelled whilst torrential rain fell outside
the sala. There’s something about a heavy downpour that clears the
air and enlivens the spirit. So, I set off for my treat.
I’d gone two blocks when I hit a police road block. It was the usual
“get off your motorbike, take off your helmet and look respectful”
thing. The route had been lined with yellow flags, so I knew it was
the Crown Prince visiting. (Each member of the senior royal family is
associated with the colour of their birth day – the King and the Crown
Prince were both born on a Monday, so their colour is yellow.) We
were all kept waiting for a little over quarter of an hour before the
royal convoy arrived. There were 16 police cars, an ambulance, a
large coach full of gentlemen in uniform, and a number of cars.
When the road block was finally lifted along the length of one of the
major roads which cuts the island in half, 15 minutes’ worth of backed
up traffic surged forward at once. It was chaotic. I was trying to
go as fast as feasible, but I was going to be rather late for my
massage. I was feeling stressed – not the best preparation for
There was no problem with my appointment, but it was moved indoors to
a small, air-conditioned room in a wooden house on account of the
I was given a well-washed cotton T-shirt and a pair of faux-silk
pantaloons to put on. It took every atom of self-control that I
possessed not to do my MC Hammer impression (You can’t touch this).
Anyway, the massage started with the masseuse holding a cold, damp
cloth over my face, then gently pressing in various places. Then the
serious stuff started: she moved onto my feet. Here she pressed what
are euphemistically called “pressure points” – “pain points” or, in
some cases, “agony points” would be more accurate. Then there was the
kneading, and contorting my body into unnatural positions and then
applying further pressure so as to cause maximum discomfort.
Perhaps the most unpleasant part of a traditional Thai massage (at
least for me), is having the masseuse tug on my toes, one by one, to
crack the joints.
Maybe the principle of Thai massage is that it’s like banging one’s
head against a brick wall: it’s nice when it stops.
And when it stopped I received a hot cup of sweet, strong ginger tea.
Just what was needed to heat the body after the air-con got a little
The two hours passed quickly, and I’ll be sure to go back again soon.