One of the highlights of Southeast Asia was getting good, cheap massages. One of the lowlights was when my wife got mad at me for being picky when selecting my masseuse in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“Why can’t it be a man?” Marissa wondered, though she was clearly implying, Are you living out some sexual fantasy?
To answer the latter: No. However, I won’t lie; I’d much rather a female rub her hands across my body than a man. At the end of the massage, I’d like to say “Thank you, Michelle, for that lovely treatment” and not “Thank you, Michael, let’s do that again some time,” (or whomever is the Thai equivalent for Michelle and Michael).
To answer the former: Let me take you back to Townsville, Australia, 2001. I was walking along the water with three friends. We were wrapping up our three-week spring break up Australia’s East Coast. We came across an outdoor festival.
“Oy, mate,” a masseur shouted from his tent. “Why don’t you come here for a free massage?”
I accepted his offer and leaned forward in the backward massage chair, placing my face in the hole. He started working on a knot in my shoulder.
“So, are you boys sailors? Just come off the ship, have you?”
“No, we’re not sailors.”
“I reckon you four are sailors,” he insisted.
“Nope. Not sailors.”
I spent the majority of my complimentary five-minute massage trying to convince him that we were not sailors. I’ve forever been turned off by the idea of a male masseuse.
Seeking Out the Perfect Massage in Southeast Asia.
“Why did you walk out of that massage parlor?” Marissa asked when a large, hulking woman came out of the back room, stopped to wipe crumbs off of her face, and rubbed her hands together as if sizing up a steak entree. Implication: You’re definitely thinking about the massage as some sort of fantasy.
“She was sweaty and still completing mastication. I really didn’t want her hands all over me.” I would have felt like I was being breaded like a chicken cutlet.
Massages in Thailand
After walking away from two masseuses, I had to convince my wife that I was not in it for the fantasy, so I picked the oldest, ugliest woman I could find on one of those foot rub assembly lines set up at the Chiang Mai night market. The old woman spent the entire time talking to her granddaughter, forgetting the responsibilities in her hand.
The next day, The Shangri-La in Chiang Mai invited me and my wife to have a couple’s massage. Two masseuses greeted us in the room. One was very pretty. The other had a big mouth full of braces.
“I’ll take her,” I said, pointing to the adult with the braces.
Massages in Cambodia
By the time I arrived in Cambodia, I was up to one massage per week. The hotel we were staying at had a very plain spa attached to it. While Marissa got a manicure and pedicure, I decided to kill some time with a massage.
“Please, go into the room and lay down,” the manager of the salon instructed.
I did so and stuck my face in the hole. My visual world was a bucket of water with floating petals inside meant to relax me. The masseuse walked in without saying a word. Then the masseuse jumped on my back and began the massage treatment.
Shit, I thought. What if it’s a dude? I heard Marissa laughing outside. Uh oh. With that sort of laughter, I was certain it was a dude.
And then this masseuse did the unexpected. He or she grabbed both butt cheeks and dedicated a good five minutes of the one hour to working my gluteus maximus.
When the massage ended, I was relieved to discover that my masseuse was a female and a very pretty one at that.
“Marissa, she rubbed my butt,” I whispered as I sipped my tea after the massage. “I didn’t ask her to do it, but she did it. But you’ll be happy to know that I did not enjoy my massage one bit.”
“Are you ready to go to the beach?” Marissa asked me.
“I need to shower first. I feel dirty.”
Massage Message for Southeast Asia
The best way to enjoy massages in Southeast Asia is to avoid the cheapest ones. They’re usually less than $5 for a reason. Unless a massage for you is mostly about atmosphere, it’s unnecessary to pay resort prices for a treatment. The massages that I had for about $10 were as good as the ones at most of the resorts. However, if you prefer decor (which you won’t even enjoy since your vision is quite limited), air-conditioning (even though you’re mostly naked and cool), or the complete package (like tacking on flower baths to an oil treatment) then the resorts are probably the only ones that will accommodate those requests.