The Thai massage is quite different in style to the massages on offer at most western-style spas. For one thing, chances are that it will involve a small Thai woman standing on you at some point. The masseuse traditionally uses not only the hands, but also the forearms, elbows, knees, feet, and, at times, the entre body, to apply pressure.
Massage is intended to relax the muscles. During Thai massage, as any one muscle is being pummeled into relaxed submission, all of the other muscles in the body are tensing up in reaction to the pain. You put your mind to relaxing them, but this only serves to stress your mental capacities and focus your attention more acutely on the pain. So you go back to tensing the muscles.
Then comes the pressure points. You know that awful tingling in your hand when you hit the ‘funny bone’ spot of your elbow? Well, the masseuse jams a thumb into a spot in your neck of which you were previously unaware, and that tingling feeling reverberates tortuously through every extremity of your body. But perhaps the worst part is the stomach. As you lay on your back the masseuse stacks her hands one atop the other, in CPR position, and uses her full weight to press various parts of your stomach all the way into the ground. Depending on where she presses you are quite sure that you are going to vomit, pee, or (please excuse the crudity here) crap your pants. At all times the pressure deactivates the breathing mechanism. Part of you hopes that you do die of asphyxiation before involuntarily wetting yourself to save yourself the embarrassment. To your great relief neither of the above actually happens.
When it is all over you feel fantastic, better than you’ve felt in months. But whether the feeling stems from the healing techniques of the masseuse, or from the sheer relief that the pain and torture has finally stopped, remains unclear. In any case, at $6 a pop you can’t help but go back for more tomorrow.