Thai Massage Masochism
Despite all the modern advances in western treatments, I've no choice than to wholeheartedly conclude that - when it comes to treating my aches and pains - it doesn't get any better than a traditional Thai massage.
My new found love of this amateur sport, which should honestly be entered into the Olympics as a gymnastics event, came when my girlfriend and I went to Phuket in Thailand. But with this tourist paradise ordinarily associated with its nightlife and "executive" entertainment dealt out by overly keen lady boys, it was not an idea I immediately warmed to.
Oddly enough, it was my girlfriend who suggested it, after I'd suffered a bit of a sports related injury. Well, I say sports injury, but what I'd actually done is fallen off my chair after expressing my delight at finally winning a game of connect four in one of the many gogo bars in Patong.
My first response was to laugh, because at the time I was convinced a Thai massage amounted to an event more pornographic than a trip to the backroom of a seedy strip bar. In addition, the massage establishments we'd seen on our travels through the town were either obvious fronts for brothels, or so small that most customers preferred to have their massage conducted on the smoggy roadside than in the sweaty enclaves of the parlour itself.
But oh, how far from the truth I had been.
Just to be on the safe side, and to make certain that I wasn't going to be molested by a masseuse keen to provide me with some extra "relief", I insisted that we went together, and had it done in the same room.
Not fancying my massage being accompanied by the roar of car engines whizzing inches from my head, we decided to splash out and have our massage done in the Hotel Spa.
Being on holiday, we decided to splash out on a full body massage, which - contrary to my initial belief - was conducted in the most discrete of terms using a series of carefully positioned towels.
I was immediately relaxed by the reflexology used to kick off the massage, although had to hold back the giggles on the few occasions it got a little too ticklish. The process was then repeated on each leg, arm, hand, and finally the face.
But the relaxing start gave nothing away about what was to come, although I don't think anything could have prepared me for it.
Having asked me to turn over, the waif of a masseuse (who was no more than five foot tall, I'm sure) then took hold of my feet. All fairly conventional so far. But then I felt the balls of her feet on the small of my back, and before I had a chance to catch my breathe she'd pulled my legs so far back I felt like I was on the rack. The next move consisted of forcing her elbow into the muscle crevices on various parts of my back with great force, while tugging my helpless limbs in all kinds of impossible directions.
After it had finished, we were both pleasantly surprised. Although exhausted, and in some places potentially bruised, my ailments were completely gone. More to the point, I actually felt better than I had before I hurt myself.
I was also fairly convinced that my girlfriend felt the same too, because a few nights later she repeated my stool antics and hurt her back too. Although let me tell you, I was more than happy to use it as an excuse to head back to the spa for a follow up treatment the next day.