I have learned several things during my time here in Thailand on the island of Ko Pha Ngan.
One. Americans do not vacation in Thailand.
It is quite refreshing, actually. I am guessing the entire day of traveling it takes to get here from the United States is the reason for this, but one can never be sure. Either way, I am the only American for miles and miles of beach and ocean. French? Yes, many. Australian? Tons. Israeli? Let’s just say there are signs in Hebrew on every other corner. American? Not so much.
Two. Haad Rin (sunrise) Beach = Cancun 1999. Foam pit included.
Give me a couple senior girls from the class of ’99 and I am sure we would be on the fast track to nostalgic lane. Although, if memory serves me correctly, we didn’t party that hard. Picture this: A bucket of some magical substance which includes probably every mix of alcohol you can put into a bucket combined with an all night party to the point I awoke to my fellow Haad Rid vacationers crawling (not walking) across the beach almost unconscious the next morning. The only thing missing in Haad Rin from Cancun that summer would be the star quarterback beating on our door the next morning shouting, “Come on girls, you don’t want to waste the day away!” The odd part about the morning crawl of shame is most people are bandaged in some way. When in the night they found time to go to the clinic and take care of their personal injuries suffered from walking on broken glass is beyond my comprehension, but glad to see some responsibility being taken. Also refreshing. Needless to say, we moved beaches.
Three. A Thai massage is like no other massage I have ever experienced.
I think it is safe to say I am no stranger to a day at the spa or a good massage. Whether it comes in the form of a sugar scrub, honey rub, or detox. Been there, done that. I will go out on a limb here and say my Thai friend and masseuse is not licensed, but that did not prohibit me from getting the best massage of my life.
First, this is not a deep tissue massage. My initial concern (with all massages) is they will rub too hard and too deep and given my New York intensity level it will hurt, being the opposite of relaxing. Before every massage I always give the disclaimer, “Not too hard, I am very tense.” But this time, I thought to myself, “Why are you always doing that? Just let the people do their jobs.” And so I did.
Next, I went on to choose my oils. Rest assured the coconut craze has hit this side of the world too. However, I went with a more traditional Thai oil. When in Rome, right? Then, the rubbing began, which was amazing. She basically just rubbed oils all over, and I mean ALL over my body. Personal space or “private” areas mean nothing to the Thai massage. Again, refreshing.
But then a strange mix of chiropractic style twisting and turning took place cracking every joint in my body. I was like one of those little origami boats the japanese set their chop sticks on. Crack, crack, crack. And with each crack came an abundance of laughter from my masseuse, as if she had just cracked the code to Carlos Slim Helu’s ATM card. My normal uptight American thoughts rushed into my head. “She has no idea what she is doing… she is going to dislocate most of my body… something is going to snap and I will be paralyzed…”
Finally, she said, “all done,” and alas I could still walk. My motor skills were still intact, and I felt completely refreshed. The best 400 baht ($12 dollars USD) ever spent.