Bambi on oil – a cautionary tale

312-massage-cartoonThe following is an excerpt from the Diplomat’s visit to a nameless but top quality massage place on Langsuan for an Indian Head and Neck Oil massage….

I’ve arrived, paid my wad of Baht, changed into the “undergarment” they always give me and am looking forward to this. I must say that it’s pleasant in here; warm, toasty even. Deffo worth the extra Baht for the ambiance. First time I’ve had an Indian massage from a Thai. Wonder if it’ll be any good?

Oh, here’s my masseuse. “Sawadee, kaaaahhh”

um-mm. A foot massage to start is always good. Only a few minutes. Oh, what’s this? Eye pads (travelswithadiplomat: for the Diplomat, not the masseuse). Slightly cool, not bad. This must be a sensory deprivation massage. She’s doing a skin on skin massage now….fingers like sandpaper. Perhaps it’s to warm me up? Ouch.

Clunk! Crash. Bang. What’s that? I can’t see. Is everything all right?

…Five minutes pass with a continuous walloping and clashing in the room. The soft lilting music is quite drowned out. There is a smell of burning.

I can sense something being positioned over my head. I sneak a peek, pushing back an eye pad. There’s a bloody electric wok in here heating up oil?! I can see it passing through a tube and dangling over my head. A pendulum rhythmically moving across me…like one of those needles you see showing earthquakes. Hot oil begins to trace a figure of eight on my forehead. The masseuse has to keep nudging it. Admittedly it’s quite nice, though not what I expected.

The eyepads are lifted away. I blink in the soft light. I can see the oil emptying out of the vessel. What’s this? That’s the used oil that’s run down my face and dripped into a copper bowl. Surely it’s not going back in the wok? Why, yes it is…it’s getting hotter and hotter…the second lot of oil trickles over me.

…Ten minutes later…

a third? The oil was bloody warm last time, now it’s going to be hot. I can cope if it continues to move. Oh shit. She’s “washing up” likes she’s just served me a meal. 

crash, clank, booiinnng, crrrrunchhhh. The pendulum has stopped. There’s a hot drip of oil focused on the centre of my forehead. Is this a torture device? I can feel a hole drilling between my eyes. Get back here and save me. Make it stop. Stop. Anyone? Medic!

Relief. The washing up has been done. The oil is gone. I tenderly feel my forehead. No time to pause, my hair is being scraped back and shampoo torn through it. Fingers on my scalp. I just want to go home now. My hair’s tied up in a plastic bag and she’s asking me to sit up. I smile. Diplomacy is my curse. OK then. Deep breath.

…Fifteen minutes agonize past…

That has to be the worst back massage I have ever experienced. Something’s broken. I am sure of it. Pain everywhere, only slightly dulled by the burning hole in the centre of my forehead. What next? It’s time for a shower? Anything to get out of here. I gratefully lunge off the table, head out of the door into the light. Where’s the shower room? Oh, there.

I step gingerly into the cubicle. Oil is washing out of my hair…onto…oh shit… a tile floor.

Uh…oh. Legs spraddling. I’m frickin’ Bambi here. Without the cute smile. How do I stop myself falling over? OK, hands on opposite walls to hold myself up, legs going like the clappers. Just about works. Who the hell takes tiles and then pours oil all over them?

Someone with a vicious sense of humour, that’s who. Oh no, the door’s opening and I’ve got knickers round one ankle trying to yank them up. I’m greased like an axle here. Perfectly all right for you to barge in...”Sawadee… kaaahhh.” I smile sweetly, desperately. Something else? Whilst I do what? Coiffure myself back into a modicum of respectability? A what? Oh…a hot pack. for me? To put where? Are you sure?

….minutes pass again…

It’s over. I can’t complain…after all I paid for this. At least the trudge home is short…

…I walk gingerly up the street in blistering Bangkok heat…

I walk in the door of our apartment. travelswithadiplomat looks up at me. “Hi honey. How was the oil massage?”

“Awesome. You should try it next time.”

Is this what diplomacy is all about?



Categories: Bangkok, Thailand

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