14 October 2008

I was a human pretzel

For years I've been hearing about traditional Thai massage. And, what has made the activity so interesting to me is that everyone seems to have such a different story to tell of their experience. So, naturally, I was looking forward to finally entering a traditional Thai massage into my life's adventure log.

For those of you who have not partaken in Thai massage, its a wild ride. I am still recovering from yesterday's trip to the spa. However, for the remainder of this entry, I will attempt to keep my opinions somewhat neutral and allow you to decide, if presented with the opportunity, whether one should be a part of your future. Here are the facts, as I experienced them at a serene, reputable, highly referred spa.

Upon entrance, I was greeted by Liao-- a tiny, fifty-ish, Thai woman with a huge, beautiful smile. I was told she'd be my guide for the journey ahead of me. She led me to a sparsely decorated, quiet, dimly lit room that smelled faintly of eucalyptus oil and closed a curtain. I adjusted to the dim and took a look around. After changing into the traditional Thai pajamas left for me, I reclined on the floor mattress and breathed deeply until she returned. So far, so good.

During a Thai massage (known at nuat phaen boran, which translates to ancient-manner massage) your masseuse puts your body into various yoga-like poses. Then, moving very slowly, she applies pressure to different points of the body while you are to stay completely still. The masseuse uses their feet and hands to do the massaging. According to an official definition (which, for the record, I read after going to the spa) Thai massage includes pulling fingers, toes, ears, etc, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient's back, and arching the recipient's back in a rolling action over the masseuse's body. 

With fear for stating the obvious, let me just say this, I have discovered that forearm bone pressed at full body weight against a shin while your body is perched sideways and your head is looking the opposite direction is not comfortable. 

While I was busy cursing at myself for scheduling a two hour massage (why? why be so greedy... you could have been out of here in an hour!), my masseuse moved to my back where I literally had my breath taken away. With a woman walking on top of me and my lungs expelling guttural sounds, I buried my face deep into the pillow and began a series of non stop laughter. What was I doing here?! 

I composed myself in just enough time to be hoisted by the elbows, and rolled backwards over my masseuse. After being wadded up into a pretzel shape (which was already slightly uncomfortable) my masseuse stood straight up, reached for the sky and launched her body on top of mine (remember, I was already awkwardly curled up into a pretzel). I heard joints crack that I didn't even know existed. A few moments in that position, a few deep elbow digs and she removed herself. With a deep bow and khap koon kah later, she exited.

While I do now understand the thrill of Thai massage (an odd combination of adrenaline rushing through your body, with deep intense stretching does leave you feeling invigorated), I also understand that I was more thrilled to exit the spa in one piece. So entry number 1,824,644 in my life's experience book: Get Thai Massage. Check. Been there, done that.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 18
Mee Goreng (pronounced Me-Gor-Ring)
This is one of my favorite newly discovered noodle dishes. I'm told that this recipe is locally regarded in the same light at chicken soup is to most Americans-- good ol' comfort food and exactly what the doctor ordered after a potentially bone breaking experience.

10 won ton wrappers, cut into thin pieces and fried until golden
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili sauce
pepper, to taste
2 eggs
2 packets of ramen noodles, cooked until al dente
1 tablespoon coconut milk
tsp of veggie oil
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup choice of meat (pork, chicken or beef), sliced thinly
2 bird's eye chilies, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot, julienned
2 cups spinach (or as my kids now like to call it, as it is more locally referred to, "rocket")

Combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili sauce and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Add coconut milk and veggie oil to a wok with the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots, meat and chilies and cook until meat is done. Add spinach, cooked ramen noodles and previously mixed sauce combination. Toss until warm and dish into large individual serving bowls. In a hot fry pan, fry eggs until desired doneness is reached (most authentic version calls for sunny side up). Place one egg on top of each noodle serving. Add fried won tons on top of the egg and serve immediately with extra soy and hot sauces on the side. Makes two very large servings.


  1. I had a Thai massage when I was in Bankok two years ago. It was the most painful thing of my life and I'll never have one again. Kudos to you for getting one done and sounding like you might do it again. Love your blog.

  2. AWESOME recipe! Sorry about the massage.

  3. My husband loves them, me, don't think I'll be trying it. I've done the neck and foot massage. The foot massage was painful enough. My feet where bruised for days after...


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