I was Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand near the “Golden Triangle”. Chiang Mai is famous for hill tribes, pagodas, trekking and Thai Massage schools.
My trekking hopes were dashed as I’d sprained my ankle on the way from the train station to the bus station in Bangkok.
The old city is surrounded by a moat, with 12th Century gates on all four sides. I stayed at a cozy little guesthouse near one of the gates. My “lux” guesthouse room cost $2.60 a night with fan and en-suite bathroom. Even though the water was cold it’s hard to complain. I thought about upgrading to a bigger room with hot water for $3.80. Such were the big decisions I had to agonise over on a daily basis.
My first few days there were spent in different reclining positions due to my sprained ankle, until I could hobble around. On one of my hobbles, I went for a Thai Massage (not the red light kind) at the Thai medical school (I’m thinking of taking an 11 day course for only $80).
Anyway I took a two hour massage.
I deliberately wore my bandage on my foot to show the masseuse that I had problems with my ankle. A picture is worth a thousands words. Bandage = international symbol for hurt, proceed with caution. I guess she didn’t understand English or international symbols.
She started the massage by showing concern for my foot, rubbing the Thai version of Deep Heat on the affected area. As she rubbed my foot she couldn’t help notice I was in a little discomfort. I’m not certain if it was her uncanny perceptibility or the God almighty scream I gave. Anyway she, having noticed, put on some more ointment and began to squeeze again, crushing and mangling every bone in my foot. I decided to get smart. I blocked out the pain so she would think it was better and see no need to continue.
Seeing the smile on my face she figured it was fixed and moved on. After that eternity had passed I noticed that I had only another hour and fifty five minutes left. As she was working on my calf she told me in broken English that I had very strong calf muscles, a result of too much shopping. I told her it was because I was very poor and that I couldn’t afford the bus. She she smiled, hadn’t a clue what I’d said. The remedy…a foot massage. (Is this Groundhog Day or what?)
She pulled up a folding chair, opened it astride my legs using it for balance, and proceeded to walk on my calves. Or should I say tiptoe. She only weighed about 90 lbs, but all of it on one toe, pointed into my calf was…how can I put it…electrifying. I began
to wish for the return of that foot massage.
After regaining consciousness, we smiled at each other and she moved onto the human penknife trick. This is where she tries to to fold your legs inside your torso whilst pounding on the bottom of your feet. I guess she realised that the legs didn’t belong there because she gave up. Her kidney massage was also quite unique. The victim, sorry, patient lies on their back and and she puts her elbow into your stomach, digging around until she finds your kidneys then puts all her weight on that elbow. I thought she was just saving my energy by not having me turn over to get to my kidneys. I must have been wrong because she turned me over and began walking on my back with her 90 pound toes.
One can only put her versatility down to the fact that she does this all day every day. She decided to read a phone bill or something that her friend was showing her whilst doing the nut cracker on my back. I couldn’t tell what it was exactly as my face was contorted with the pleasure of the experience.
After inflicting only minor brain damage whilst massaging my head, she returned to my foot to make sure she hadn’t missed a bone. It must have done me some good because when I arrived I was limping when I left I was running. Still, my fingers are intact so I can type…
Any event bearing any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.