Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Elbows and Thumbs of Iron:

Suan Chan Thai Massage Clinic

Knew I would have to try the world-renowned Thai massage while I was here. Well, today was the day. Pain in my right shoulder and a persistent backache drove me to it. (I blame it on the hard bed but could also be because I'm half a world away from my chiropractor and due for an adjustment, anyway.) Cha, our driver, agreed to take me after school.

The massage clinic proved to be a lovely oasis in the middle of town: soft music playing, nice decor, greenery growing all around--yes! Gonna be good.

Lovely entrance.

I was offered a cup of hot water on arrival. Then my little masseuse insisted on scrubbing my feet first. (It's nice having your feet scrubbed.)

I opted for the Traditional Thai Massage as opposed to any one of a dozen variations. First, the doctor came out and looked me over.

Without speaking a word of English, he pointed out my many problems (all of which I am well acquainted with). He confirmed that I am basically uneven and crooked. Which is true since one side is about an inch "shorter" than the other and my chiropractor is constantly evening me up. He then noted several old injuries as well, and instructed the masseuse on what to do to make me all better.

I did not disrobe. I did not say anything. I pointed nothing out to him. He figured it all out for himself just by walking around and looking at me from all angles. (He's said to be a great chiropractor, too, I later learned.)

After the check-up, I was led back to a cubicle and instructed to lie down.

On the floor.

(Hardly surprising considering the Thai love of hard surfaces to sleep on.)

There was a thin mat on the floor and I lay down on it. I was wearing loose clothing--a shirt and pants--and this seemed perfectly acceptable.

My little masseuse placed me on my side and began applying pressure with her thumbs and then her elbows, first up and down one leg, then the other, then proceeding everywhere else.

When I say pressure, I mean PRESSURE.

She knew two English words. "Okay me?"

This means do you mind if I dig to China in this particular muscle?

I was supposed to say, "Bow! Bow!" meaning "softer," if she pressed too hard.

I never needed to say anything because jumping four inches off the floor spoke for me.

She found every sore spot I never even knew I had. And if I jumped, she would work it like a wrestler. One time, I think she walked up and down my back--or jumped on it--maybe it really was just her elbow. My face was buried in a pillow and I was too busy doing LaMaze breathing and centering to actually take a peek at what she was doing.

I learned not to jump because she wouldn't leave the spot alone if I did.

Two hours of painful bliss sped past.

After all that, the floor actually began to feel soft and I imagine my bed tonight will, too.

When I stumbled to my feet afterwards, I was limp as a noodle--and no pain!

"Kee baht?" I managed to gasp. "How much?"

600 baht total. That's about $18.95.

I'm going back tomorrow..and the next day...and the next...

Do you think she might want to move to Maui?

P.S. I tipped her over a dollar.

P.S.S. They had a Western-style bathroom!

My massage therapist just about came up to my shoulder but don't let appearances fool you...This lady can give a massage!

Altar in the reception area where you can humbly give thanks after your massage.


  1. How cool it that? Pain relief and a real bathroom all at one location! Glad you found such a lovely place.

    Sara H.

  2. i hear ya on the Lamaz breathing! (did that for my tattoo)It works, no? Glad you feel better!

  3. Sounds like a dream! Can she come to Orlando??

  4. Pam, Are you sure your head wasn't buried in your pillow to muffle the screaming ?? Barb

  5. Hi: Heard there is a women in Marquette, MI that spent 3 months in Thailand to learn massage. I have a friend that wants to try her ... think now I will let her go first !! jan