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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine November/December 2000
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The Educated Traveler

The Gift of Thai Massage

Remembering 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 Bangkok’s 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 who’ve barely heard of Thailand. It’s like having a lifelong souvenir from the Land of Smiles, a special gift I got for myself and can constantly give to other people.

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