Monday, April 18, 2011

My latest off-the-wall massage experience: jungle spa

Trust Thailand to provide me with Number 10A in my list of odd, interesting, unique and amusing massage experiences, as related in my first posts on this blog.

No, it wasn't a "happy ending" massage; and it didn't involve paint masks, reiki, gum-chewing waitress types or even a pregnant massage therapist asking me to "feel (her) belly."

What made this particular massage creep onto the list was its location, combined with its immediate ambiance.

Welcome to the Jungle (spa)...
It took place at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts, a really interesting jungle lodge accommodation located right on the Kwai River. And I mean literally on the river. The lodge is set on floats, and it sits away from the shore.
I love jungle lodges, and this one was no exception - it was pretty cool, just being able to stay there for a night, drink beer at the "Jungle Bar," watch the Mon tribe from Burma put on a cultural dance display, and listen to the sounds of the jungle on either shore during the night.

They also have a jungle spa there, where you can get Thai massage, foot reflexology, or my personal favorite, an aromatherapy massage.

What made this particular massage experience unique/odd/amusing/interesting (pick one!) was the set-up for the massage.

While Thai massage is done fully clothed, on a mat, usually on the floor, a massage with oil on a table usually requires a bit more privacy, since most, if not all of your clothes, are removed.

Spa menu at River Kwai Jungle Rafts
(32 baht = $1 Cdn)
I walked into the spa after booking my appointment and saw the tables. They were side by side - and there were no walls anywhere. The only thing giving you any privacy are some gauze-like curtains the massage therapist rolls down. But there are gaps, and even without the gaps, people outside the curtains can still see the massage taking place through the curtains. The client can hear people talking in the waiting area.

"Hmmm...mmm..." I'm thinking. "I wonder how this is going to work?"

I should point out, that during any kind of regular therapeutic massage I receive from a Registered Massage Therapist in Vancouver, I'm basically naked, but completely covered with a sheet, other than the area immediately being worked on. That's pretty standard procedure.

Given that, I think you can figure out why I felt a little hesitant about the set-up at this jungle spa.

Then my therapist, a really nice Burmese lady, told me to take off my shirt.

Okay, no problem.

The rather non-private massage tables

Then she told me to take off my I start taking them off, but I'm a bit hesitant, as I can see and hear people about 20 feet away. She senses my slight discomfort, takes a quick look, and says, "Oh, good, you have underwear on."

Yeah. Good, indeed.

Really, that's the only way to do it, given that kind of set-up. I sure wasn't about to get down to my birthday suit if the room was not completely private.

Once that was settled, I jumped up onto the table, and enjoyed a nice relaxing 60-minute massage. Except for the mosquitoes. Where's that Tiger Balm when I need it? (In Thailand, it seems Tiger Balm is a cure all for everything. Got muscle aches? Slap on the Balm. Mosquito bites? Rub some TB on them. I even had a guide put it on a scalp cut I got when I banged my head in a temple.)

Anyway, the massage itself was great. I left the spa and went immediately to dinner, in ultra-relaxed mode.

Dinner involved three bottles of Singha beer, so I was even more relaxed after eating.

Life in the jungle is definitely good ...

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