As I sat on a low square faux-leather stool sipping tea from a tiny ceramic cup, a masseuse leaned forward and cupped my left breast, giving it a little squeeze and smiling to herself; I sat, unmoving on the stool, sipping my tea. Did I just have a Thai massage with a happy ending?
My first, and only, Thai massage experience was on my first night in Bangkok, back in 2010; after taking a bus from the airport and getting lost while looking for my hostel near Khao San Rd, a guy in my room convinced me to go for a Thai foot massage. Feeling like a walking zombie, I agreed: Moments later I was sitting in a white recliner on the side of the street while a Thai woman in a pink polo shirt ground a wooden tool into the bottom of my foot.
It was, by far, the most painful massage experience of my life; I was busy clenching my fists, wincing, squirming, and praying for my massage to stop, while the guy I was with held my hand and laughed.
That was my last Thai massage. Until this past week.
Following my friend Jodi into her favourite massage place in Chiang Mai, I placed my bag on the floor and took off my sweater as she explained that our desire for a back, shoulder, and neck massage. It was late, almost 9pm, and I was feeling worn out as I followed a giggling Thai woman to a table and laid down; unfortunately the size of my boobs prevented me from comfortably resting my head on the tiny red square pillow that looked liked as though it belonged on a sofa, not a massage bed – naturally this caused both my masseuse, and Jodi’s, to giggle as the tiny pillow was replaced by a large bedroom pillow, and then a firm neck pillow was added on top to make sure I was completely comfortable, and more giggles escaped from my masseuse.
Washing the bottom of my incredibly dirty feet, much to my embarrassment, my masseuse gently massaged the bottom of my feet, then began working on my calf muscles before straddling me and sitting my butt, then using her elbow she began working in circular motions along my spine; my right side first, then my left. Occasionally I winced with pain when she dug into my back too hard; the pain was minimal in comparison to my foot massage in Bangkok five years ago, and I soon closed my eyes and relaxed.
When I was asked to roll over onto my back, and the Thai women discovered that my breasts were on the verge of choking me because I was laying too flat, giggles rippled through the room; soon I was once again comfortable and as my masseuse began working on my legs, a younger Thai woman started to massage my arms and hands; once complete, I was instructed to sit up, then asked to lay back, resting my body on my masseuse as she began to rub my temples, shoulders, and then my breasts.
Is this the equivalent of a ‘happy ending‘ for women who get massages in Thailand?, I thought to myself as she went back to massaging my head.
My hour-long massage passed far too quickly, and I soon found myself sitting on a low square faux-leather stool sipping tea from a tiny ceramic cup, when Jodi’s masseuse leaned forward and cupped my left breast, giving it a little squeeze and smiling to herself: I sat, unmoving on the stool, sipping my tea.
Just another day in Thailand.