As I deftly weaved my way through the spattering of dawdling tourists, a ripple of familiar pain danced its signature move across my back. Four months hauling my life around in a rucksack had taken their toll on my spine. My shoulder blades were embedded amongst tight, knotted muscle, and the extra weight felt increasingly heavy with every step. Tendons and ligaments creaked in protest as I urged them into motion. The heat offered no respite.
‘You wan’ massaaaage?’ came the familiar call from the women competing for business on the street. A common sound in Thailand, their words barely registered with me, so focused as I was on making the 100ft to the hostel without dislocating a limb. Attempting to ignore their sales pitches, I increased my speed: first mistake.
My second mistake was thinking that I could successfully avoid an oncoming tuk-tuk by leaping over a puddle to reach a safer position at the roadside. Fatigued by the day’s sweltering persistence, my graceless jump resulted in soggy flip flops, and a twisted ankle. Gentle hands aided me with an unexpected strength; I rose to see the wide smile of a slender Thai woman with kind brown eyes.
‘You wan’ massage?’ she asked, eyebrows raised persuasively.
The salon was cool and smelt of menthol and musk. Leaving my forlorn-looking footwear at the door, I tiptoed to the modest mattress welcoming me from the pristine tiled floor. Liberated from the restrictive straps of my rucksack, I sank into the comforting smell of incense and scented oils; a deep inhalation prompted a large sigh, deflating the day’s stresses.
The dainty Thai lady started kneading my body with prodding fingers. Ripples of pleasurable pain awakened my dull nerves. The sheer force coming from such a tiny person was incredible; she coaxed the toxins from my aching muscles with the aggression of a heavy-weight wrestler. I was completely at her mercy.
Her skilled hands pummelled my tightened calves, manipulated my trapezius and stretched out my compressed vertebrae with a worryingly loud crack. She pressed her elbows and heels into my flesh, pulled on limbs and massaged my temples until I was dizzy. I gritted my teeth as she yanked on my toes and fingers one by one, each releasing a satisfying pop. She practically impaled my tired skin with her sharp knuckles, and giggled innocently as she twisted my neck beyond comprehension.
The grand finale saw my body forcibly contorted into a series of unnatural positions. I had no choice but to succumb to my torturer’s will as she laughed cajolingly at my fearful expression; she knew what was good for me.
Post-Thai massage bliss © Emma Sparks
One hour with her had erased four months’ worth of tension and pain. I was floating on air, content, serene and glowing. Reluctantly replacing my rucksack onto my rejuvenated shoulders, I placed my hands together and bowed in thanks.
And just like that, I was ejected from my haven of calm, back onto the streets of Bangkok.
This post is my entry to a competition that could see me jetting back to Thailand! Please share if you like and tweet with the hashtag - #ThaiTales. If I learn Thai Massage, I’ll owe you one!