This is actually a post I wrote a while back for a company’s blog that never ended up launching. But this coming weekend I’m headed to the L.A. Times Travel Show, where I (almost a year ago now, ack!) was invited to go on my first press trip. So in honor of that fond memory from last year, I’m sharing this post now…
A little over a month ago I found myself, rather unexpectedly, in Thailand for a press trip with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Before the trip, TAT sent me an itinerary with a list of the activities for our eight-day adventure. While gold-leafed palaces and night markets sounded like fun, I was most excited about what was on the agenda for our very first day, a traditional Thai massage!
After a morning of traipsing through the complex of jeweled buildings that is the Grand Palace, our group arrived at the RarinJinda Spa for our massage. We were greeted by women handing us sweet juice and comfy slippers. Next, they ushered us away to have our feet washed and scrubbed with herb-infused water. Feet cleaned, it was finally time to start the best part.
We were each escorted to a room with a thick mattress on the floor and given an outfit of loose pants and shirt. I changed into my absurdly large pants and shirt and plopped myself down on the mattress. A small older Thai woman began kneading my calves and shins. (For those who have not had their legs, specifically their shins, “kneaded” before, it’s an acquired taste—and one that I have yet to acquire.) She then moved down to my feet and toes and began doing a strange series of toe-pulls and fist pounding on my feet. (I should also mention here that I’m extremely ticklish. So trying to lay still and not twitch like a dying lizard was nearly impossible for me during this part.)
Because I wasn’t already having a hard enough time relaxing, let alone not laughing/crying, this small Thai woman had me sit up and began straddling my back. From this stance, she started contorting my limbs in positions never, in my opinion, intended for the human body. Then all of the sudden the personal-bubble-invasion-alarm went off in my head as the woman got in front of me. She squished her tiny foot into my groin and pulled on my leg with all of her might. (I’d like to remind you that as I said before, my pants were way too big, which means that as she pulled, my leg wasn’t the only thing that I thought might pop off…)
I endured some additional pulling, pounding, and strange hand clapping on my back before the whole event was over. I walked out of the massage unsure of whether or not I was relaxed or dead. About an hour later though, I realized that I was actually feeling quite refreshed—and thankfully, not dead.
All said and done, it turns out that I came to rather enjoy this bizarre form of relaxation-meets-torture. In fact, over the next eight days, I indulged (and at only $15 for an hour and a half, who wouldn’t?!) in quite a few more Thai massages. But here’s what I wish someone had told me in the beginning: Don’t head to a Thai massage with the expectation of a deep Swedish rub down. Come prepared to be poked and tickled, twisted and pounded—and to have a strangely relaxing Thai experience.