by Melinda Gallo

Thai massage

Before leaving for Thailand I talked to my sister who had been there before many years ago. She said that I should do two things while in Thailand: get a Thai massage and ride an elephant. On our first evening in Thailand last Wednesday, we decided that we deserved a massage after our long flight.

While we were walking down the main streets and along the beach, Thai women came out of nowhere and asked us, "Thai massage?" They wore big smiles that were very inviting. They then showed us a plastic-covered price list with all the services listed on it. On a side street along the Ao Nang beach, there are small huts with people inside getting massages.

The people inside would be sitting up on wooden beds with cotton mattresses getting massaged by Thai women. I looked in to see the faces of the relaxed and happy tourists as they lie there in their bathing suits or summer clothes with their eyes shut.

We decided on a small shop off the main street near our hotel. It was about 10 p.m. and there were a few Thai women outside sitting down chatting. We walked up to the shop and one of the women jumped up to talk with us. She showed us the price list and I decided on the Thai massage and Alessandro chose a foot, shoulders, and head massage.

They ushered me inside a dark room and he stayed in the front area where the other women were giving foot massages. I was escorted into a curtained off area the size of a twin bed and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. I tried to motion to the woman if I just take off my clothes and leave my bathing suit on. She shook her head and made gestures to me that I understood that I was supposed to wait for her. She came back and gave me a pair of short cotton pants that were big enough to fit us both in them. I put them on, but didn't know how to tie them. When the woman came back, she smiled at me when she saw me trying to figure out a way to keep them from falling off of me. She wrapped part of the fabric around me and tied it.

I laid down and she knelt at my feet and shut the drapes. She began to massage me and I couldn't relax as much as I wanted to. She pushed her fingers in my feet and at times I wanted to jerk my foot away from her. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe out the pain I felt. A few times, I'd open my eyes and smile in the hopes she'd understand that she needed to lighten up on me. She'd ease up a little and smile back to me.

The hour passed by quickly and eventually my body relaxed and I enjoyed the massage. After I put my clothes back on and walked out to the main area, another woman popped a straw in a plastic container of water and handed it to me. I noticed Alessandro was still getting his massage and the woman put her hand out in front of me to tell me that I could go toward him. I sat next to him while he got his massage. He didn't see me until the woman finished.

We paid the two women and walked to our hotel, which was about a block away. We slept through the night and felt fantastic. Even though there were moments I didn't enjoy the massage, the result was positive. We might have to get another massage before we leave Thailand.

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