I'll take golf with a side order of Thai massage
BANGKOK, Thailand – Visiting Thailand for the first time, it’s natural to have certain preconceptions. While I knew beforehand I would find many of the same conveniences I find at home, I was mildly surprised how similar the world has become.
For example, the Bangkok Airport is modern, clean and easy to navigate; there are 7-11 stores and McDonald’s on just about every corner, the local beer is good, and many of the golf courses are reasonably priced, well designed and well maintained.
But the differences are what make this trip worthwhile. Cab fares are cheap, most everyone is Buddhist, and the level of service and respect for fellow human beings is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in my travels.
If you like Thai food, this is, of course, the place to be. In fact, I’ve discovered a simple dessert ? fresh mangos and sweetened rice ? that I could eat every day if you could get a decent mango in a U.S. grocery store.
One of the great perks, however, of taking a golf trip to Thailand is the Thai massage.
Forget everything you ever knew about massages if you’ve never had one of these. In Thailand, Thai massage is considered part of Traditional Thai Medicine and is regulated by the government. The therapists are highly trained, and they are everywhere, even at the golf courses. One of my hosts with GolfAsian said he rarely plays golf without at least a foot massage afterwards, especially since he walks with a caddie most of the time.
Less than $20 including tip, I got one yesterday after golf. Unlike a traditional Swedish massage, you don’t lie on a table underneath a sheet. Instead, you’re given some loose-fitting light clothes, and soon into it, you figure out why. This isn’t exactly a passive experience. Much of it feels more like a chiropractic experience than a massage. The whole session takes place on a low bed or the floor. My therapist began by working the feet, calves and shins, but it wasn’t long before my limbs were being stretched into all kinds of positions.
It’s actually very systematic. Following the Sen lines of the body, the therapist applies pressure using her hands and forearms (and elbows, I think). She also put me in all kinds of Yoga positions, using her own legs and feet to get me into what seemed like wrestling holds to twist me into all kinds of positions. I’m pretty sure one of them helped me make a better turn on the golf course. A guy could get used to this.
At the end, I felt pretty limber. The next morning – not so much. Looks like I’ll need another one in short order.
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