NOTE: spelling errors abound in this post since there’s no firefox 2 browser or word processor to check in. Sorry!

Even though we actually had a well trained and registered massage therapist in Fort Smith for a few years, I had never gone to one before this trip. Even at Daivik a girl from Yellowknife would fly in for a week or two at a time and offer evening bookings for anyone who could afford her. This all changed in the last month of course…

I woke up one morning in our little Toyota camper van with a pretty good knott in one muscle next to my shoulder blade. This was at about the end of our second last week in Oz, and it got progressively (and uncomfortably!) worse over the next two days. I managed to find a massage place open on Sunday’s (it was a Saturday when I realized that walking hunched over in a very slow and decrepid manner was not a long term option) in Mooloolaba and booked the soonest appointment I could get. She was a fair sized girl. I’d booked in for an hour. The first seven to nine minutes were spent talking about the main problem, reviewing (quite extensively!) my health and body status questionaire, and generally sorting out what I needed. Then the pain! Oh, the sweet pain… I knew it was all for a VERY worthwhile result, but Man! did this girl (all 240 pounds or so of her) ever have some strength and Ooomph! in her. I didn’t call her off once, (sure came close twice though) and she worked out tense stuff I didn’t know I had.

My proudest moment came near the end when she casually commented on how much I had taken. “Most Aussie guys are absolute whimps, and will call me off after only a bit of pressure. It’s very frustrating when if they’d just take it a little more, I know that I get get them all sorted out in one or two visits, rather than a string of eight or ten visits over two or three months. I’d rather help them more efefctively and work myself out of some work. You have taken more than any of my customers in at least five years!” Whew, so I was tougher than most Aussie business executives who could actually afford such regular treatment, hardly something to be extroirdinarily prowd of…

The weirdest part was that she seemed to focus slightly more on my oposite shoulder muscle that I had mentioned to her. When I brought this up (casually of course) she insisted that it was in much worse shape, and liable to “go” at any time. Confused I just accepted this. I had gained instant respect for her earlier though when she quickly identified that I had had a shoulder seperation on my left side over 10 years ago (it was 20) and she quite accurately described the scope of severity. She had used her elbows and massive forearms quite a bit throughout, and near the end, those rounded blunt objects of death midway in her arm found their way into my thighs to some nerve I had never heard of before. (Leesa-Maree told me but I’ve erased that “full-on” experience from my memory.) Once again she kept going longer and longer, and I refused to say “STOP! No more please!!!” until she saw the tear starting to form in my eyes and gently let up. The second one on my right side was absolutely worse cause I knew what was coming this time. Like the dreaded spanking that a child doesn’t get right away, (he gets to think about it and dwell on the scope of severity for a few hours first) I almost cried knowing the excruciating torture I was about to endure… Sure enough she held this one longer! Truely a sadist (in such a good, well meaning way of course) I suffered gleefully at her hands knowing (in my heart at least) that it was all working towards a tremendous benefit (me joining the last fourty thousand generations of mankind in walking upright). At the end, as I was getting dressed, I asked her how many marriage proposals she received from first time paitients. She had an instant reaction of slight panic, until she saw my laughing eyes. Then I further commented that I had to get my wife a year off of work and send her to massage school for a couple semesters. She then gave me a couple addresses of two on the East Coast of Oz, but I reluctantly (and very sadly) threw them into a rubish bin outside knowing Claudette would never have the slightest interest in such a thing as a “more than a five minute massage” never mind actually having to go to school for it.

After that first time I was naturally hooked. The difficulty was in how to absorb the astonishing (yet VERY worthwhile) $75/hour fees. Luckily we are travelling, and economically repressed areas represent a repreive from said “Western” styleized fees. At the entry to Malaysia, when we were killing several hours at a huge shopping mall until our train left for KL I had my second massage. They had nine chairs lined up for doing pedicures and foot massages, but only one body massuse. I had to wait three hours from my enquiry time until there was a free booking. He was a little 145 (or so) pound guy, and I was the last hour of a twelve hour shift for him. It too felt really great, especially since he did my feet quite thoroughly first. The hour long combined back, arm and foot massage worked out to be about CAN $23. I even snuck Luke into the chair for five minutes of a back rub since he was sore after wandering around town for several hours too. This little guys pushed, massaged and bent my muscles very effectively (and wonderfully) for 46 minutes before he stopped and said I was done. I looked at my watch wondering about the remaining eight minutes that I had pre-paid for. He just sat there looking quite exhausted himself saying in very broken English while looking at his hands, that “there’s nothing left, I am out of power”. I let him off (“white devil” that I am) since he had very reluctantly fit Luke into my time. Not to mention I guess that he had done a pretty effective overall job, (with the exception of bending my RSI entranced thumbs back way too far). Claudette continually declines my offers (and strong recamendations!) for a massage herself. I will keep offering just to ensure she doesn’t have amunition to consider me too much of a selfish bastard spending the family money on such luxury.

My third massage was last night. Ummmmm, the memories come flooding back. There are quite a number of massage places on either side of the beach road, and we are in a VERY uncrowded area of Phuket. Many of these are just open air places with basic beds or even mats on the floor. On the inland side of the beach road there are a half dozen or so in buildings with actual walls. I had heard of the “special” massages available in Thailand from many people back home, and from other travelers we’ve met along the way. An English guy we met here (Dan) had told us about a busier area they had been to last week where there was a huge string of massage parlors along the roads. In this, the much more populated area, the signs were actually labeled occaisionally (every forth or fifth one he said) with “No Sex” for the parlors where the girls were gaurenteed NOT to hassel you at the end of the main one.

I went to check e-mail and type in the start of a BLOG post last night, but was actively canvased (being late at night) to come in for a cheap massage at various places along the way. I started thinking how nice such a gentle rubdown would be after a long day (it was almost 10:00 PM, and all other family members were in bed). I headed to the little sideroad that the internet cafe was on. This also had a pathway to a tremendously nice (and crazily expensive!) resort. I figured that the more reputable places would be adjacent to this resort’s beach entry path, and picked one there. The prices seemed amazingly reasonable (if not downright bloody cheap!). A twenty minute foot massage was (all prices converted to CAN $) $4.50; a half hour back rub $6; a sports massage (meaning vigerous?) was $10; an all over 60 minute body massage was $9; and an all over 60 minute “oil” body massage was $12. I opted for the 60 minute oil one, and then sent me to the open air roof with a little 120 pount thai lady who knew very little english. She gave me a 65 minute wonderful workover everywhere but “there”… (thank gawd!) and I felt compelled to still tip her another 100 Baht (equivelent of $3, since the original massage price was only 400 baht! or $12).

Most bizzarely though, on my way back to the hotel I was canvassed again. Here I was still outrageously reeking of linament oil, and with my skin all glistening, and she wanted to offer me a massage??? I kindly explained that I had only just had one and began walking away. She called me back suggesting that I might need a “special” massage now. I then realized that she must have seen me come out of the “reputable” place and figured I was disappointed or something??? So, mildly curious (nothing more than curiosity, HONEST!) I asked how much. She asked how much would I pay. I was growing impatient and wanted to go, so I exasperatedly replied that I had no idea since I’d NEVER had one before and was just curious, but really wanted to go to my hotel and get to bed. After more talking among the two girls, the English speaking one replied that a “specail” massage would be 1000 baht. She asked more in a negotiating tone of voice expecting me to come back lower I guess. Naturally I said thanks, bid them a good night and ended up somehow at Les & Tina’s room (Dan’s In-laws) swapping stories over a beer for another hour. I have no idea what “special” is: being full on, or just a hand; don’t care either… But I know there are many readers who would be “curious” to know the price. So it’s 1000 baht, or CAN $30 and is most likely negotiable down from there…

Grandma Vi is gonna get one (or more if she gets hooked like me!) tomorrow at the reputable place. Just for fun I might send her to other place and tell her to ask for “special”. But, knowing Grandma Vi, she would be slightly suspicious of my wry smile, and then Claudette would spill the beans. I’m sure that the massage girls would just laugh at her anyways… At least, I hope so! (Eeeeeewwwwwweeeeee!!!!!!)

6 Responses to “Massages…”

  1. Tim says:

    Hooked on massage? You big ol’ girl’s blouse, you. I can’t wait for your update on your manicure and facial. 🙂

    I’ve never had a professional massage, but your rapturous description makes me think I might actually be missing something. although, like you, I might skip “the special”. Or not…hmmmm…

  2. Rick says:

    Funny you should “mention”, (oops, I mean mercilessly TEASE!) me about that. Claudette and I both got a pedicure in Edmonton before leaving, (It was Lov-e-ly thank you very much!) And I plan on a manicure here before too much longer. The facial just ain’t EVER gonna happen though. I might get my facial hair waxed or lasered off if ever the “cheap” opportunity presented itself…
    Just amember… Don’t never knock nut’in ’till ya tried it! I might just go have another massage on the beach this afternoon, just to spite you….. Mmmmmmmmmmm….. Enjoy work! (your parents were never married…)

  3. Tim says:

    I always suspected you were a secret metrosexual, despite your year-round shorts-wearing, the giant orange rubber boots and your belief that a Hawaiian shirt is appropriate for every occasion.

    (My parents were married. Just not to each other.)

    Big poker game tonight! We’re gonna miss you, buddy.

  4. Leesa-Maree says:

    You always make me laugh! As soon as I saw the heading “massages” and knew you were in Thailand I knew exactly where this blog was going to go!

    Yes massages are awesome for getting rid of knots and tension. Don’t listen to Tim, I would like to see the average person cop someone’s elbow into their sciatic nerve! (That is the name of that nerve, hence the term sciatica.)But oohhh, the sweet pain of release!!!!!!!

    Walking alone (as a man, not so much as a woman) at night in Thailand just encourages the proposition of special massages!! I just think it was funny that she had to confer with her mates!

    Oh the poor little chap on a 12 hour massage shift, working for next to peanuts… that is a little cruel. But cheap massages – pack them in while you can. Claudette, jump on board while you can – relaxation massages I mean!

    Got your post card from Malaysia yesterday, the kids were very excited. Am flat out at work – am working extra days at work and trying to do stuff at home too. Another 5 weeks til holidays! Will you have a postal address for Christmas? Enjoy having your mum around and some time alone together.

    lol Leesie

  5. Rick says:

    Lacie, how could you have POSSIBLY? known where this blog post was going to end up??? I presume that you are referring to the “special”… Surely you forget that my writing is like the wind; drifting, weaving, ebbing and flowing over a wide variety of topics with various levels of thoroughness. Even I, the creator of such verbose masterpieces, did not know where the topic would eventually lead when I began this epic post, (and in the end it was only a very slight, casual mention at that really…).
    I only meant to convey the wonders of a massage and join the ranks of the extensive proponents in the world. My Mom had one yesterday on the beach and we quickly posted the picture so all of her friends and workmates can visibly verify that she is actually relaxing.
    That’s great the postcard arrived so quickly! You still haven’t answered the question of where you guys are gonna meet up with us along the route though… It’s OK now, as we have plans for your spare money to buy a house together instead. More details on that when I finish the “Gods Smile Down on Us” post.

  6. Leesa-Maree says:

    your writing is wonderful! So wonderful that I could picture a similar thing happening to us in Thailand all those years ago. Don’t fret – your writing is really special!!!

    Spare money… what spare money? OOhhh, you mean the stuff we buy paint and wood with! I think Santa is busy spending any spare money we may have at the moment. Is Santa thinking of buying us a house?
    lol Leesie (in australian) Lacie (in Canadian)