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Death By Massage: My Brutal First Thai Massage Experience

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“You’ve never had a massage?”

My group looked at me in shock as we drove through the busy streets of Bangkok last Thursday morning.

I balked a bit at the 7 pairs of widened eyes, all staring at me.

“Errr nope.”

I was attending TBEX Bangkok; my first TBEX, my first time in SE Asia, and now going on my first ever massage as part of a pre-event blogger trip. A two hour treatment at a fancy Thai spa, and everyone was incredibly excited. Everyone except for me.

Travel Bloggers at the Thai Spa

Our travel blogger team

Our drive started with horror stories of strong Thai women walking on people’s backs, pounding them with their hands, and kneading with their elbows. I’m sure my eyes were bugging out of my head as I listened. Nothing about that sounded enjoyable or relaxing, and as we pulled in the Oasis Spa, Bangkok I started to wonder if I should have signed up at all.

The Oasis Spa looked like a little piece of paradise in the crazy hectic world that is Bangkok. We walked past the serene pool, filled with lily pads, and took off our shoes as we entered the spa. Settling on comfortable couches we were served a ginger and sugar tea and left to relax. Or at least try to in my case after hearing what might be in store. As the women passed out health forms I quickly circled ‘soft’ under the pressure question. I was taking it easy for my first time.

Off to a good start with our tea

Off to a good start with our tea

Tea finished, we partnered up and were led to our rooms. The room was beautiful; calm and inviting with a glass shower and hot tub in the corner. Soft music was playing and the masseuse handed me two plastic-wrap packages. A quick look showed them to be a shower cap and…a g-string.

A g-string?! What the heck had I gotten myself into.

Thankfully it was a normal pair of undies, not a g-string, so I changed out of my clothes, put on the provided ‘g string’ and wrapped myself in my towel awaiting whatever came next.

A little worried about what's to come

A little worried about what’s to come

The massage therapist came back a couple minutes later with another woman as there were two of us in the room, and after telling me to lie down with my face in the hole in the pillow, she turned out the lights and got to work.

At first it was alright. There was a warm compress that she rubbed down my back and shoulders. I closed my eyes, relaxing. This wasn’t bad at all.

And then suddenly it was horrible.

In a matter of seconds the compress became a weapon and I was literally cringing under the pressure. She kneaded it in-between my shoulder blades, and my eyes; calmly closed just minutes before, were desperately trying to focus on the design in the floor in an effort to distract myself from the pain. I actually found myself concentrating on regulating my breathing. In…out…in…ouch!

The dreaded compress aka beating sack

The dreaded compress aka beating sack

“Excuse me” a gentle voice said above me, “are you ok?”

“Um, yes” I said. Inwardly cursing myself for not saying “No, actually I think you might be torturing me”. But she had been going for awhile now and it had to end soon. Didn’t it?

Well the compress part ended. And then came the hot oil, and with that the elbows and next thing I knew she was on the table, straddling my hips, and pummelling me to near death. I flinched a few times and she noticed, easing the pressure but it was still painful. Thinking I must be the biggest baby in the whole entire universe I sucked it up, but secretly wondered if maybe I could ask her to stop and just play with my hair for the rest of the session. Something gentle and soothing, because I was seriously starting to doubt I would make it through more of this and actually live.

Things continued to get weirder as she massaged my butt (what?) and then asked me to sit up and nearly yanked my arms out of their sockets before karate chopping my back. I glanced over at the other blogger in my room who was getting the same treatment, her eyes were closed and she seemed happy and relaxed. Which made me feel like even more of a freak. How the hell was she enjoying this when I was actually suffering?

And then it was over. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and quickly threw on my clothes to join the others in the main room. As they all arrived they all looked at me, laughing, and asked how it was. The best word I could think of? Traumatizing. Needless to say I think I’ll just be sticking to the 30 minute foot rubs for the rest of my time here!

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It was a peaceful experience for everyone- but me

It was a peaceful experience for everyone- but me

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Oasis Spa for TBEX. The spa really was gorgeous, with kind and attentive staff. I’m just clearly a massive baby and not meant for massages.

8 Comments

  1. Alice Teacake on October 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Hehehe so funny Hannah! Thai Massage is certainly an experience. I’ve had many but there’s one I had in Taiwan which literally left me crying my eyes out in pain. The lady was more traumatised than me to see such a river of tears but it really hurt >< Nonetheless, I still go for them. I leave feeling much better and almost on a high. Worth every penny (hope you're not scarred for life).

    • Hannah Logan on October 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Oh god I thank god I didn’t cry! haha. I am slightly scarred. Although everyone says there’s a really good spot here in Koh Tao so maybe…. we will see. Or at least a foot massage. I like those! haha

  2. […] a quick fan of Yellow Rice and Chicken. I even braved another massage and found that, unlike the terrifying Bangkok experience, I actually liked it! I also became a regular at the Koh Tao Animal Clinic; happy to spend some of […]

  3. Bethany on November 8, 2015 at 6:57 am

    These are massages I dream of nightly! As a career long restaurant Server, my body is beat up. I need all those hard tweaks (esp the glutes) that most Americans are too shy to have done.

    After the momentary pain…. I often find months of comfort + mobility.

    • Hannah Logan on November 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

      haha I was just terrified. I had bruises the next day! It was awful- but I’ll send you next time 😉

  4. […] One of the biggest perks of travel through southeast Asia is the abundance of cheap massages, and Luang Prabang is no exception. There are plenty of massage parlours throughout town offering everything from traditional Lao massage to a manicure. I have an amazing experience, but my friend had two awful ones so ask for advice on where to go first. Sadly I didn’t get the name of the spot I went but if you find Novelty Cafe, look across the road and to the left you will see a small street. Head down there a bit and it will be on your right, with purple signs. It was awesome, so much better than my terrifying Thai massage experience. […]

  5. Kristine Li on January 30, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Can’t help but lol at your narration of the breathing, lol! Some masseurs possess an incredible amount of strength which can make the massages very torturing. If you ever give massages another chance, you can just tell them “Softer” and they’ll adjust accordingly 😉

    • Hannah Logan on January 30, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      haha well I’m glad I made you laugh! I did end up braving another massage, one in Laos in 2016- and it was wonderful!

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