my masseuse was a wrestler

Went for a Thai massage today after Sunday lunch buffet at Oriental in honor of a friend who’s returning to Taipei.

Health Land is one of the famous spa and massage places in Thailand and there are branches everywhere. But I have never tried it. I go to a Wat Po (where majority of Thai masseuse learn the tricks of the trade) branch near Emporium that is frequented by Japanese expats. So it was my first time at Health Land.

I thought I was at a mall the moment we entered the place. The branch we went to in Sathorn was obviously famous and it was crowded with clients waiting for their number to be called. We were told that waiting time was one and a half hours so we walked to Blue Elephant about 10 minutes away just to look around and let our Oriental lunch settle in our stomach.

By the time we returned to Health Land, there were fewer people in the waiting area and we found seats. They serve iced water with a hint of roselle and as I sat sipping my drink, I noticed the ambience was really different from my favorite massage place. Here, the receptionists even used microphones to call numbers while in the Wat Po branch I go to, there’s just a single counter manned by one person and what he does is call the masseuse on the phone when a client arrives. Also, phones are no-nos and the Japanese will frown at you if you talk loudly.

Our waiting time ended to be almost two hours and by then, I have seen a Chinese-looking couple leaving with their shopping bags probably from Chatuchak, a group of Japanese tourists with their fashionable hats and a Korean girl with her luggage still with the airline sticker. She probably came direct from the airport.

In other words, Health Land is definitely not your friendly neighborhood spa and massage place where locals go. It has become a tourist destination. That’s both good and bad. Good for the business but bad for those people who just want a quiet place to go to during weekends.

So finally, our number was called and since there were three of us, they gave us rooms next to each other separated by curtains that they pulled open after we have changed into pants and top. It was the first time I was wearing Thai traditional clothes with all the strings so I was confused how to do them. In my Wat Po branch, they provide pajamas and a shirt.

When doing Thai massage, it’s best to close your eyes and try to sleep (if you can), especially if you can see what’s going on in the next bed because you might get a shock when you see the masseuse standing on the back of your friend. I mean yeah, it’s all in illustrations but seeing it for real can be quite scary especially when you know it’s also being done to you.

And I swear my masseuse must have been a wrestler before she joined Health Land. So many times I wanted to scream out in pain and there was a time I thought my neck was going to break. Thankfully, I survived the two-hour ordeal and lived to tell the tale.

For more information, check out Health Land.

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