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Tuesday, January 01, 2008
CAN YOU FIND A MASSAGE IN BANGKOK?
Counterintuitively, Bangkok hasn't always been the best place in the world to go for a high quality massage. Well, Bangkok, of course, is infamous for one type of "massage"-- the kind you get at joints like Lolita's and the Kangaroo Club in Pat Pong, the Johnson-waxing or pole-smoking (with or without icecubes), which inebriated German and Australian tourists seem to prefer. Me... I go for the old fashioned, legitimate, therapeutic massage where "happy ending" means limber muscles and a relaxed frame. In Bangkok that kind of massage hasn't been all that easy to find, at least not really great ones. Well, I have always liked the omnipresent foot massages. The bending and twisting stressed out ones you get at the wats... eh... not so much. And up at the traditional Thai massage school in Chiang Mai... you can definately get a first class legit massage there. And one year we even spent a week at a posh resort in Hua Hin called Chiva-Som and they had decent enough massages (in an uptight, creepy, over-priced spa atmosphere). But here in Bangkok, I always found the massage scene kind of seedy and... well, not serious or professional.
This year I came across a sparkling clean and new massage house on Silom Road just a few blocks down from Charoen Krung, Silom Bodyworks. I've had half a dozen massages there (so far) and I found the masseuses uniformly serious, knowledgeable and effective. The place features "modern Thai massage," especially the full body massage and the back, head and shoulders massage. No twisting you into a pretzel either. There are more exotic treatments as well, from ayurvedic massages, jurlique facials, crystal treatments, and Swedish aroma therapy to a "tropical fruit body treatment." I stuck with the more conventional hour and a half long full body and back, head and shoulders when ever I got the opportunity.
While I was traipsing around the Irawaddy Delta southwest of Yangon in Myanmar last week, the shock absorberless cars and the severely pot-holed roads conspired against my lower back. By the time I got back to Bangkok I was a (barely) walking disaster. A well-trained and intuitive masseuse at Silom Bodyworks had me all fixed up in just 2 sessions.