The Educated Traveler
The Gift of Thai Massage
the Thai massage I had received a few years earlier in a little hut on the island of Koh Samui, I made up my mind to plunk down 4,000 Thai baht ($115) to
learn how to do it myself. Down one of the shopping alleys off Bangkoks Khao San Road, Pian Sukphakkit, a Thai woman trained at the WATPO Traditional
Medical School runs a massage school. You can walk in at almost any hour of the day and get a 1 1/2-hour, full-body Thai massage by one of her experienced
masseurs or masseuses. You can also take a 30-hour course spread out over as many as 15 days, or as few as five. I took the 5-day, six hours a day option.
Cleanliness is the first lesson. All who are about to perform or receive a massage remove their shoes and pour water over their feet.
My instructor Samreung and I claimed an empty mattress on the top floor and he handed me a homemade booklet titled Traditional Thai Massage.
An hour and a half later, after I had been stretched and pressed into a blissful stupor, it was time to try my own hands at it.
After three days I was able to get half way through the routine fairly comfortably, and Samreung insisted that I lose the booklet.
On day five, I gave Samreung the full massage twice, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, and he rewarded me with an intensive
knee, foot, and hand massage using coconut oil. I received a certificate of achievement, and during my final two months of traveling in Southeast Asia and
the South Pacific I practiced my new skill on fellow travelers.
By the time I returned home I got it down and could share it with family and friends whove barely heard of Thailand. Its
like having a lifelong souvenir from the Land of Smiles, a special gift I got for myself and can constantly give to other people.