Sooner or later anyone coming to Thailand is going to get a massage – in one form or another.
Today I had mine.
I’m not talking about the 250 Thai baht variety you can get down the Loy Khroh road in Chaing Mai or in the seedy dives of Patphong
I mean, I don’t think those girls dressed as cheerleaders were offering the traditional holistic Thai massage.
But now I can (just about) move my back and arms again I can tell you what it’s like to have the full Thai Monty.
I found them tucked away in the courtyard of one of Chaing Mai’s spectacular temples.
Three things told me they were genuine. Proper uniforms, only 120 Thai baht (all of £2.50) and the fact that the ladies were all – how shall we say this – on the large side.
First they decked me out in some absurd voluminous green pantaloons that would have been too big on Bernard Manning during his meat pie phase.
In one corner trainees were learning how to use some sort of wooden hammer and chisel to tap along the bodies of clients …
Tap tap tap tap … all the time.
I kept casting nervous glances at them. My masseuse looked at me and laughed.
They don’t really rub you. They kind of lean on you using their knees, elbows and feet
She pressed everywhere, the femoral artery being a particular favourite
My legs were twisted out at 45 degrees
“Err I have this old groin injury which can be particularly sore when you….aaarrgh!!!!”
She laughed She actually laughed
The hammers were getting faster.
Tap tap tap. Four of them at it now,sounding like a rock breaking prison gang
Then she moves to my calf muscles..
I tried to warn her
I have torn and pulled both muscles so many times over the years it’s left a legacy of scar tissue
“Those muscles are very sore ,very sensitive can you please be…..JESUS Christ!!!!!”
She tutted this time.
Then she stuck the sole of her foot into my inner thigh and pulled my foot towards her with all her strength.
Then my fingers were pulled almost out of joint. She made a snapping noise – I thought she’d broken them
The arm is lifted up , bent backwards and pressed down as she puts all her (not inconsiderable ) weight on it
“You see I broke my collar bone playing rugby and its still a bit stiff and ….BLOODY HELL woman that hurts!”
Up go the legs. Straightened and bent back. Ignoring my plaintive cry that I have very little flexibility
Flip onto stomach.
Feet turned inwards. Now im getting serious cramp.
When footballers get cramp they sit on the pitch while a team mate gently bends their toes backwards.
She punched my foot
Now she kneels on my calf muscles and starts walking up the back of my thighs
“This ok ?” she says The only words I hear her speak.
“Well since you ask…”
To my alarm the hammers now seem to be striking something metal. I am relieved to look up and see a metal smith in the yard working on some decorative plates for the pagoda
Then she gets the hammer and “chisel” out.
“Umm I’m not sure about this it looks a bit …woah! Actually that’s not as bad as it looks – but then again it couldn’t be I guess.
Knee in the small of the back. Arms behind me and pulled upwards
And to think I paid for all of that. But guess what ?
I left there feeling like I was walking on air