Ah the massage. That relaxing treatment that allows you to simply forget about the world and relax. One of my favorite parts of being in Asia is how widespread cheap (and non-adult) massage parlors are. For $10-$20, it is hard to turn down a good and sometimes not so good massage.
Following a whirlwind trip to Manila and a quick connection in Singapore, I arrived in Kathmandu a few weeks ago in the afternoon. Given the time there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for sightseeing, but I did decide leave the rear gate of the Hyatt Regency looking for a nearby temple. I never made it.
Immediately as I emerged from the palatial Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, I saw it. A massage parlor! Just what the doctor ordered. Or was it? Considering this parlor is ideally located as a haven for weery Hyatt guests like myself, it was no surprise that they had a nice menu in English. Just about every 60 minute massage was 2,000 Nepali Rupees or ~$20 USD. Conveniently that was almost exactly the amount of money I had on me! For that price I could choose between Swedish, Deep Tissue, Ayurvedic or Thai massages. I chose Thai. Oh why oh why?
I have been to Thailand many times and have had several massages in the country but somehow I missed the memo that choosing a Thai massage is like asking the Devil to ascend from hell and contort you in ways that no person should be contorted. Somewhere inside of me I knew that Thai massages were “deep tissue”, but somehow I got to 35 years old without ever really knowing what a Thai massage was. That was about to change.
Perhaps I should have been tipped off when the male front desk agent gave me a strange look when hearing my inspired choice of massage type. After a brief pause he then ran next door for a minute. Before long he returned with another man and a GIANT PAD that he hauled upstairs to the room. What had I gotten myself into?
Five more minutes passed and I was considering making a run for it. What was that mat for? The door is right there. I could be back in the safe surroundings of the Hyatt in seconds! But I didn’t run. Eventually I was called upstairs where the quiet relaxation music couldn’t drown out the smells and noises of Kathmandu. I was told that my current loose clothing would work for the massage and only to take off my shoes. The 5 foot tall, 90 pound masseuse then came into the room and cleaned my feet. “This is nice,” I thought! Ha.
The next hour was excruciating. To start, I was told to lay face down on the very hard mat. And then the “fun” began. I learned what it felt like to be turned into a human pretzel. Over the next hour she kicked me, stood on me and bent me as she displayed super human strength. At times despite my best efforts to hold it back, a whiny yelp would leak out of my mouth. I would have been embarrassed, except I had other issues I was dealing with. I needed to survive this torture to get back home to my family!
Eventually I learned to retreat back within my mind and completely forget where and when I was. 🙂 After all I am a big man and I knew I could survive an hour of getting tossed around by someone a fraction of my size. And my strategy worked. The time passed and just as I began to get used to the sounds and feelings of my body creaking and cracking, the grand finale began.
It began with a calm before the storm. There I was on my back and for a few seconds she didn’t do anything. Maybe it was over? Nope! She then swiftly grabbed my legs with the strength of Hercules and folded them violently over my head. I was now quite literally bent in half. All I could hear were cracks and pops as the muscles in my legs felt as if they were being torn out. She held me there for what seemed like five minutes as she occasionally let off the pressure only to apply it again. I no longer could retreat into my mind. I was experiencing all of this…….And then it was over….I SURVIVED!
After briefly laying there on the floor, I put my shoes back on, kept my head down and paid for my massage. I then walked out to the main street and back into the Hyatt. I don’t know how or why, but the darn massage worked. Her very precise method of torture was effective. I actually felt better. A little stupid and a tad bit embarrassed, but better.
Yes, I paid $20 to be contorted into a pretzel and didn’t apparently know what a Thai massage was even though I should have. Does that make me dumb? Probably, but everyone does similar things! Right?!? Have you ever been in a similar situation where you should know something, but didn’t while traveling? Please share in the comments.